Qualcomm says it's not going anywhere amid Pixel 6 Tensor chip announcement

Qualcomm logo during CES 2018
Qualcomm logo during CES 2018 (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Qualcomm says that it will continue working with Google on future products.
  • The company's Snapdragon chipsets have been featured in previous Pixel devices.
  • The upcoming Google Pixel 6 will be powered by a custom-built SoC reportedly built by Samsung.

The early announcement of the Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro came as a surprise as Google provided details about the new phones and the company's custom-built Tensor chip. The chip sees Google shifting its dependence away from Qualcomm for its smartphones, but the chipmaker says it's not going anywhere.

As per a tweet by Walter Bloomberg, Qualcomm has declared that it maintains a working relationship with Google and will continue to supply the company with Snapdragon chips for "existing and future products."

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While the statement is unsurprisingly vague, it's obvious that Qualcomm wants to remind us that its chips are still ubiquitous when it comes to the best Android phones. A Qualcomm spokesperson told Android Central in a statement that its Snapdragon chips "remain synonymous with Android flagship mobile experiences, including our partnership with the Samsung Galaxy, Fold, and Flip series."

The company also boasts the successes that it had with its 800-series chips, including the latest Snapdragon 888, as it reminds us of its long-standing partnership with Google bringing the first Android phones to the market.

Google Tensor chipset

Source: Google (Image credit: Source: Google)

It had long been rumored that Google was designing its own custom SoC for the Pixel 6 smartphones, focusing on its AI and machine learning prowess. Google confirmed those plans with Monday's announcement, touting the company's "biggest innovation in Pixel" with improvements in computational photography and speech recognition.

The new chip represents a significant move away from Qualcomm, which has powered all previous Pixel smartphones up until last year's Google Pixel 5. Google's chip is an in-house, custom-built design that focuses on what Google does best. Even in the press release, Google hinted that Qualcomm's chips, while great, just weren't cutting it for what the company wanted to achieve.

AI is the future of our innovation work, but the problem is we've run into computing limitations that prevented us from fully pursuing our mission.

Meanwhile, Qualcomm did not go into detail about the devices "existing and future products" that it would power, but it could hint at the Google Pixel 5a that is expected to launch this month and is said to be powered by last year's Snapdragon 765 chipset.

Qualcomm's statement could also refer to other types of products outside of smartphones, such as the best Android smartwatches that are often powered by Qualcomm chips like the Snapdragon Wear 4100.

Qualcomm has already committed to building new wearable chips, which we can likely expect in the next generation of Wear OS smartwatches. A Google Pixel Watch could be among these devices, although Google remains largely mum on any such device.

Whatever the case may be, Google's move to its own chips for the Pixel 6 doesn't appear to bother Qualcomm, which is gearing up for the launch of Samsung's upcoming foldables at Galaxy Unpacked next week, and should see a healthy boost following the company's already impressive quarterly earnings.

Derrek Lee
News Editor

Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.

8 Comments
  • Whatever Qualcomm! I bet they will start supporting their SoC longer, now that they have more competition. I really hope the Tensor SoC succeeds, and that Samsung also continues to develop their Exynos chips. I remember when Qualcomm said that their SoCs could support up to six (6) OS updates on Android. I started to wonder what then was the problem, as the most OS updates we ever got from Google was three (3). With this Tensor SoC, and its potential for providing Google a way to extend longer support, it will be almost impossible for me to consider a Qualcomm SoC in a future phone purchase if they can't match or beat what Google is alleged to offer with the Pixel 6 line up.
  • I wouldn't be surprised if Google at least used Qualcomm modems in their SOCs because let's face it, theirs are the best in the industry so far. I also hope that this competition will lead Qualcomm to support OS updates longer, although it sort of goes against their business model of selling new chips every year.
  • Of course they aren't going anywhere. The tiny amount of pixel devices Google sells isn't going to adversely harm Qualcomm since pretty much every other OEM relies on them (and for more than just SOC).
  • Qualcomm will be always continue to work with Google and mid range Qualcomm chips will continue to be used in the Pixel a series. I think the Pixel 6 series will finally for Qualcomm to up their game in supporting their chips for longer now.
  • Well, duh, Qualcomm is not going anywhere, who else will supply the modems for the Pixel 6 line and upcoming Google phones!? Broadcom? Mediatek? Qualcomm makes the best 5G modems for smartphones. We have to remember at the end of the day, these mini computers in our pockets are still phones.
  • I agree and even Apple agrees lol, the Intel Modems on my 11 Pro Max are crap and the call quality is embarrassing at times.
  • Qualcomm isn't worried because Qualcomm knows Google's SoC, just like the phone it's in, will be a colossal failure.
  • The Pixel 6 is the phone that says Google's not playing around anymore. Haters gonna hate, with that said, Qualcomm is the largest supplier of SoCs and is responsible for the vast majority of Android phones CPUs and GPUs.