Hardware

Qualcomm 215 Processor Brings Several High-End Features To Budget And Entry-Level Smartphones

The budget or entry-level smartphone segment is about to get a huge boost in the feature list. The just-announced Qualcomm 215 is an interesting System on a Chip (SoC) that offers features including dual-cameras, support for Dual SIM with Dual VoLTE and more to entry-level smartphones. Incidentally, the processor belongs to the Qualcomm’s ultra-low-end 200x series processors, and cannot wear the Snapdragon moniker. According to the company’s claims, the Qualcomm 215 SoC offers a 50 percent jump in performance than its immediate predecessor.

The Qualcomm 215 processor is the latest entry in the company’s 200x series processors. Needless to mention, the 200x series is by far the lowest and most basic entry-level processors that Qualcomm makes for smartphones. These SoC are designed with efficiency and affordability as the two most primary concerns. In other words, Qualcomm’s 200x Series of smartphone CPUs are entry-level processors meant to ease the transition of a potential customer from feature phone to a smartphone without significantly burdening the budget. These frugal processors will never win any processing competition. However, these CPUs certainly offer the best in their class power efficiency. Interestingly, with the latest Qualcomm 215 SoC, the company is attempting to stay ahead in the rapidly growing market of entry-level smartphones.

The new Qualcomm 215 SoC, which does not use the well-known Snapdragon brand, specifically targets affordable smartphones that range in price from $ 75 to $ 120. The 215 CPU fills a rather large void. Product designers have been using Qualcomm Snapdragon 429 or Snapdragon 430 within budget smartphones, but the 215 will allow manufacturers to further lower the price of their devices without impacting the feature-list. On the contrary, the new Qualcomm 215 processor brings several features from the mid-tier smartphone range down the ultra-affordable and budget segment.

Qualcomm 215 Specifications And Features:

The Qualcomm 215 significantly improves upon the previous 200x Series processors. Incidentally, the last time Qualcomm introduced such budget SoC was way back in 2015. Hence a refresh in the segment was long overdue. The new 215 should not be compared with Snapdragon 400X Series CPUs. While the Snapdragon 430 and 429 are often found in the smartphones that cost anywhere between $130 and $150, the new 215 SoC will be primarily featured in devices that cost between $75 and $120. In other words, the new processor can be considered as the most basic processor that allows a device to be classified as a smartphone.

Despite the primary intention behind the Qualcomm 215 being affordability, it is still a decent entry-level processor that allows the inclusion of features which were never thought possible in ultra-affordable or basic smartphones. Qualcomm managed to fabricate the new 215 Soc because they relied on the 28nm structure width fabrication process. Needless to add, the 28nm fabrication process is considered quite obsolete. While the 14nm and even 10nm fabrication processes are already mainstream, SoC manufacturers are already actively shifting to the new 7nm fabrication process.

The Qualcomm 215, however, is not fabricated to offer high power processing or gaming capabilities. Instead, the processor appears designed to boost the feature list of affordable smartphones while keeping the costs significantly down. The 215 processor comes with four ARM Cortex-A53 cores that operate at a maximum clock speed of 1.3 GHz. The seemingly underpowered CPU is combined with the well-known Adreno 308 graphics unit. Incidentally, the Qualcomm 215 is a 64-Bit CPU and as far as performance goes, it is supposed to offer up to 50 percent better performance than earlier 200x chips. Essentially, the 215 is the first chip in the low-end lineup to be fully 64-bit compliant. Moreover, Qualcomm 215 packs up to 28 percent increased gaming performance compared to the Snapdragon 212. This enables smooth graphics for casual gaming.

The Qualcomm 215 supports dual ISPs (Image Signal Processors), a first in the 200x series. In simple words, it means the 215 SoC can support dual camera setup. This brings important features like optical zoom and depth sensing. The 215 SoC can confidently run a single camera with maximum 13MP HD+ resolution or two cameras at 8MP resolution in dual setup camera. The cameras can also capture video in full HD, 1080p resolution. Smartphones packing the Qualcomm 215 could have screens with 1560 x 720 or HD+ resolution and a 19.9:9 aspect ratio.

The Qualcomm 215 shines in the connectivity department as well. The SoC integrates Qualcomm Snapdragon X5 modem which supports LTE Cat 4 with Carrier Aggregation for faster data rates, and download speeds up to 150 Mbps. The processor supports EVS Voice calls which simply means devices will offer “Ultra HD Voice Calls”. The SoC supports Dual SIM and Dual Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE).

These are considered mainstream features in most budget and mid-tier smartphones. But now affordable and entry-level devices too will pack them. Surprisingly, the Qualcomm 215 SoC also comes with dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac with 433 Mbps download speeds and support for NFC Payment on Android. If that’s not enough, Qualcomm has also infused its own Fast Charging tech called Qualcomm Quick Charge technology into the entry-level CPU which can charge a battery at 10 watts.

Qualcomm Attempting To Dominate Ultra-Affordable Smartphone Segment?

Qualcomm has significantly accelerated the design, development, and deployment of the new 215 SoC. The first devices with the new Qualcomm 215 are expected to be launched in the second half of 2019. In other words, smartphones with highly affordable price tags packing the Qualcomm 215 are already in active fabrication.

The Qualcomm 215 is undoubtedly a decent enough chip for low-end Android phones. There is a huge and rising market of ultra-affordable smartphones. Incidentally, this market is currently dominated by Chinese SoC maker Mediatek. Qualcomm could be hoping that its brand name and the strong association it has with making reliable smartphone CPUs should help capture market share.

It is quite apparent that manufacturers making affordable or entry-level smartphones may not choose to infuse all the features that the Qualcomm 215 supports. Still, the new SoC is a clear sign that respectable HD+ screens and a dual-camera setup with 1080p video capture could soon become mainstream.  Moreover, with support for the latest communication standards, telecom companies could confidently deploy high-speed services in developing, underdeveloped or even remote regions.


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