Qualcomm admits the ‘new’ Snapdragon 6s Gen 3 is really from 2021, and that’s a problem

Snapdragon 6s Gen 3
(Image credit: Qualcomm)

What you need to know

  • Earlier this week, Qualcomm quietly launched the Snapdragon 6s Gen 3 mobile platform, which sounds like an entirely new chip.
  • It is not, as Qualcomm confirmed that the Snapdragon 6s Gen 3 is essentially a rebranded Snapdragon 695.
  • If Qualcomm isn’t innovating enough in the low-end of the chipmaking market, competitors like MediaTek could pull ahead.

Qualcomm subtly added a new mobile processor to its website earlier this week on Monday, June 10 — the Snapdragon 6s Gen 3. This chip continues a trend of Qualcomm naming processors in a way that is confusing at best or intentionally misleading at worst. It might sound like an upgrade over the Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 chip, but it isn’t. In fact, it’s a downgrade because the “new” Snapdragon 6s Gen 3 processor is essentially a rebranded version of the Snapdragon 695. 

There were glaring similarities between the Snapdragon 6s Gen 3 and the Snapdragon 695, but there are a few things about the former chip that are new. Qualcomm cleared up the speculation with a statement to Android Authority, which confirmed that the Snapdragon 6s Gen 3 isn’t really a new chip. 

“Snapdragon 6s Gen 3 is an enhanced version of Snapdragon 695 delivering improved CPU, GPU, and AI performances (sic),” the company said.

Before this was made clear, it already seemed like the Snapdragon 6s Gen 3 was yet another rebranded version of the Snapdragon 6s Gen 3, which was first released in 2021. For starters, the beginning of the model number of the former (SM6375-AC) is identical to that of the latter (SM6375). Both chips also used the 6nm manufacturing node, which is an older process. We’ve already seen 3nm mobile chips come out, and the 6nm process is far from cutting edge in 2024. 

With that being said, the Snapdragon 6s Gen 3 does have a few clear advantages over the Snapdragon 695. The ”enhanced” version of the chip has a higher CPU and GPU clock speed, potentially making for faster performance. Qualcomm also says that there is support for “AI performances,” but we really don’t know what that means. It’s unlikely that the Snapdragon 6s Gen 3 will be able to deliver the kinds of modern on-device AI features that we see on stronger platforms, like the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 or the Tensor G3. 

These minor improvements can’t change the fact that the Snapdragon 6s Gen 3 is built on the exact same architecture as the Snapdragon 695, and there’s only so much Qualcomm can do to pull more performance out of it. This creates a situation where new devices with a “new” processor are potentially starting three years behind competing devices.  

We know Qualcomm can do better

Snapdragon 8 Gen 3

(Image credit: Qualcomm)

It’s disappointing that the Snapdragon 6s Gen 3 is nothing new, because we know Qualcomm can do better. This isn’t like the dark days at Intel, where the entire company was struggling to improve its chipmaking and fabrication technologies across its portfolio. Qualcomm is doing better than ever, and its Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 and Snapdragon X platforms are giving Apple a run for its money for the first time in a long while. 

Qualcomm clearly focuses on the money-makers, and it’s not hard to see why. The company has had essentially a monopoly on the flagship Android mobile processor space for a while, even after Google moved to its own Tensor processors. The latest Tensor G3 doesn’t come close to matching the newest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip, so any buyer worried about performance will choose a Qualcomm-powered phone. That’s without even getting into the grip Qualcomm has on wireless modems.

The company is breaking into the laptop and desktop markets with the Snapdragon X platform, which is powering a solid lineup of new Windows laptops set for release this week. Qualcomm is the only company making a chip that will be compatible with Microsoft’s Copilot+ feature set at launch. It already announced plans to bring Snapdragon X to more form factors, starting with a Snapdragon Dev Kit mini PC. 

This is why it’s a shame that the Snapdragon 6s Gen 3 is just a 2021 chip with a few tweaks. No one is expecting Qualcomm to make its budget chips competitive with flagship ones, but the company can certainly do more than rebadging three-year-old processors.

Qualcomm would be making a mistake by becoming complacent

Mediatek Logo next to a building

(Image credit: Source: Android Central)

When Intel got complacent, AMD was right there to swoop in and capture some market share. Now, the “team red” and “team blue” race is back on in full swing. The same thing could happen in the smartphone chipmaking industry if Qualcomm keeps re-releasing chips without any new innovation. Qualcomm isn’t the only company making mobile processors, and it’s facing real competition, especially in the low end of the market.

MediaTek has the potential to one-up Qualcomm in the budget market, especially if its latest chips indicate what it can do. The company has been teasing a flagship Android device powered by a MediaTek processor, which would be huge for the company. MediaTek seems to have the chops to compete with Qualcomm industry-wide, but it can definitely do so in the budget sector if Qualcomm keeps releasing ”new” chips like the Snapdragon 6s Gen 3.

Brady Snyder

Brady is a tech journalist covering news at Android Central. He has spent the last two years reporting and commenting on all things related to consumer technology for various publications. Brady graduated from St. John's University in 2023 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. When he isn't experimenting with the latest tech, you can find Brady running or watching sports.

  • Daniel Gomes
    This is really disgusting behaviour from Qualcomm and sadly the Android OEM's are fully on board with it because they can pretend their new phones have a new chip.

    In reality they are selling us the same phone since 2021 but just with a new name, different design and colour. But the essentials are exactly the same.

    The prices have increased though, of course. And none of the tech from the premium market have trickled down to the budget market.

    What is supposed to happen is that tech gets cheaper and arrives a few years later in the lower markets. But these OEM's would rather withhold that and screw us over with the same junk year after year.

    Where is wireless charging? Where are better cameras, not just the hardware, but the actual software as well? Where are metal frames? Where is ip68?

    All of these are super cheap now and should be on the budget phones.
    In other words budget phones today should be like Galaxy S 20 of a few years ago.

    Instead when they DO make a good phone like the Xiaomi 13 or Vivo 200pro, they slap on flagship pricing.
    Why the f would i pay flagship prices for a Xiaomi or Vivo or Oppo or RealMe etc????
    I'll just get an iPhone if I'm paying that much.

    They've forgotten why people buy their stuff. They are supposed to be making affordable flagship killers but they just make junk.

    I'm definitely switching back to iPhone this year. Screw Qualcomm and Android OEM's