This is partly because the company offers a wealth of options for mobile manufacturers to choose from, ranging from entry-level to flagship, complementing the array of smartphones that they are ultimately designed to power. At the top end is the company's Snapdragon 800 series chips, currently fronted by the Snapdragon 865 and the mid-cycle refresh that is the Snapdragon 865+.
With the previous generation's top chip being the Snapdragon 855, it's assumed that the next milestone silicon the company is set to unveil will be called the Snapdragon 875.
When will the Snapdragon 875 launch?
As for when the Snapdragon 875 is expected to make its debut, it's assumed that - as in previous years - Qualcomm will use its annual Snapdragon Tech Summit event to serve as the stage on which the 875 will launch.
The (all-virtual this year) event kicks off on 1 December - where Qualcomm will likely make its biggest announcements - with things concluding on 2 December. The more modest Snapdragon 775 is also expected to launch alongside the 875.
What Snapdragon 875 phones are on the way?
Following the announcement of this year's Snapdragon Tech Summit, Xiaomi's Lu Weibing confirmed that his company's next flagship phones would be among the first to feature a Snapdragon 875. It's assumed that the devices in question will be the debut entries in the Mi 11 series, successors to 2020's Xiaomi Mi 10 smartphone family.
Oppo is one of the other prominent manufacturers reported to have a flagship phone scheduled for 2021 that'll be powered by a Snapdragon 875; assumed to be the Oppo Find X3 and potentially, the Find X3 Pro.
Similarly, it looks as though Samsung is also poised to bring the Snapdragon 875 to its heavily-rumoured Galaxy S21/S30 smartphones, with some also running on the company's own Exynos chips, depending on the market they're destined for (Europe, Korea and Australia typically receive Exynos-powered Galaxy S and Note phones each year, while the US benefits from Snapdragon-powered models).
It's also been reported that LG, which is usually among the first manufacturers to release a phone with the latest top Snapdragon chip, isn't likely to offer such a device in the first half of 2021, with its name being notably absent from initial order lists. Instead, LG has reportedly bulk-ordered the Snapdragon 775, continuing the trend it started with this year's LG Velvet and LG Wing, two premium phones with (admittedly top-notch) mid-range processors.
Snapdragon 875 specs & performance
While TSMC has served as the principal manufacturer of Qualcomm's Snapdragon chips of late, recent reports by Business Korea and Hankyung suggest that it's Samsung who is exclusively undertaking production of the 875.
Both sites point to the 875 leveraging a new, more efficient, 5nm process (akin to Apple's latest A14 Bionic chip, found inside this year's iPhone 12 series) and being one of the first chipsets to make use of ARM's new X1 CPU core.
That's backed up by a Weibo tipster claiming to have seen a prototype, claiming that the chip will have one Cortex-X1 core running at 2.84 GHz, three Cortex-A78 cores at 2.42 GHz, and four power-efficient Cortex-A55 clocked at 1.8 GHz. Those are actually the same clock speeds as the Snapdragon 865 (and thus the prime core is a little slower than on the 865+) but the improvements of the 5nm architecture should bring performance benefits beyond those base specs.
The same leaker also says the 875 will use a new Adreno 660 GPU, along with improvements to cache, memory bandwidth, and power consumption to improve battery life.
With Samsung's involvement, it's thought that the development of the 875 directly informs the development of the company's next own-brand chipsets too, the Exynos 1080 and Exynos 2100.
In fact, preliminary benchmarking scores of the 875 (running on early Galaxy S21/S30 and Mi 11 hardware, respectively) have been mentioned on Korean site Clien, with the S21/S30's single and multi-core Geekbench 5 scores coming in at 1159 and 4090, while the Mi 11's scores clock in at 1102 and 4113.
Meanwhile, Exynos scores pulled from pre-release Galaxy S21/S30 hardware actually land a little higher than their Snapdragon 875 equivalents, coming in at 1302 and 4205 for single and multi-core testing.
For reference, in our Galaxy S20 review, the Exynos 990-powered phone scored 2299 in multi-core testing, while the Snapdragon 865-powered S20 FE scored 2934 in the same test. Both scores highlight a notable jump in performance if these leaked Snapdragon 875/Exynos 2100 scores are to be believed.
Leaked scores on another popular benchmark tool, AnTuTu, suggest a similar performance jump. The 875 - reportedly codenamed 'Lahaina' - scored a phenomenal 847,868 according to a leak. By contrast, the best Snapdragon 865 score posted is around 663,000, and the iPhone 12 only managed 565,000.
Check back for more on the Snapdragon 875 as leaks continue to trickle out and we'll update this feature with official information once the chip launches on 1 December.