What you need to know
- Qualcomm is aiming at the $100 entry-level segment with the Qualcomm 215 Mobile Platform.
- The Qualcomm 215 is the first in this series to offer a 64-bit CPU, along with dual SIM and dual VoLTE.
- It also supports dual cameras, tall 19:9 displays, Quick Charge, and NFC.
- First phones with the Qualcomm 215 will debut in the latter half of 2019, and the chipset will make its way to the U.S.
Qualcomm has rolled out several updates to its mid-tier Snapdragon 600 and 700 series this year, and the chip vendor is now setting its sights on the entry-level segment. We haven't seen a lot of momentum in the 200 series other than the Qualcomm 205 Mobile Platform, which made its way to feature phones.
Qualcomm is now introducing the Qualcomm 215 Mobile Platform, which is aimed at smartphones in the $100 price point. Qualcomm is touting a host of improvements, including a 64-bit CPU — the first in a 200 series — along with support for dual cameras, 19:9 displays, NFC for Android Pay, Quick Charge, and much more.
The Qualcomm 215 is powered by four Cortex A53 cores clocked up to 1.3GHz, which is a 50% boost in performance from the previous generation Snapdragon 212. The Adreno 308 GPU delivers a 28% uptick in performance on the gaming side of things. The chipset itself is fabricated on the older 28nm node, so you're not going to see the same levels of energy efficiency as the rest of Qualcomm's lineup, which is on 14nm, 10nm, and 7nm.
The chipset also supports 13MP single cameras and 8MP dual cameras, as well as the ability to shoot 1080p video. You also get compatibility for HD+ (1560x720) 19.5:9 displays, up to 3GB of LPDDR3 RAM, eMMC 4.5 storage, and GPS/GLONASS. This is also the first time we're seeing a Hexagon DSP in the 200 series.
Interestingly, Qualcomm is bundling NFC with the Qualcomm 215, which paves the way for Google Pay transactions at retail stores. The feature isn't likely to see much usage in India as the version of Google Pay available in the country in markedly different from other markets, but it is a welcome addition for the U.S.
On the connectivity side of things, you get a Snapdragon X5 LTE Cat 4 modem that has up to 150Mbps downlink and 50Mbps uplink. There's Wi-Fi ac with MU-MIMO, Wi-Fi calling and HD calls, as well as dual SIM with dual VoLTE, which is a table stakes feature in India. Qualcomm is rolling out Quick Charge tech as well, but it's limited to Quick Charge 1.0 speeds.
The chipset will be debuting in emerging markets like India, but there will be a Qualcomm 215-powered phone coming to the U.S. later this year. The new features on offer may not seem that impressive in context to what we usually see in the Snapdragon 600 series, but it is a huge leap when you look at earlier offerings in the 200 series.
That said, the Qualcomm 215 will show up on devices at the $100 price point in India, but that segment is now fielding the Snapdragon 600 series — specifically the Snapdragon 632 — in the likes of the Redmi 7, which costs ₹7,999 ($115). It'll be interesting to see how Qualcomm markets the 215 platform — it is possible we'll see the chipset on HMD devices, with Android One or even Android Go being the differentiator.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.