Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset provides the best performance of any Android system-on-a-chip (SoC), but continues an alarming efficiency trend. That’s according to @Golden_Reviewer on X (formerly Twitter), who tested the new chip on the Xiaomi 14 Pro. Xiaomi is the first company to include the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset in a smartphone. The brand unveiled its Xiaomi 14 series late last month, and now that the smartphones are in the hands of reviewers, we’re starting to see how Qualcomm’s new chip performs.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chips represents a new architecture for Qualcomm. The platform consists of a chip with one prime core, five performance cores, and two efficiency cores. This latest test from Golden Reviewer is based on a standardized benchmark from the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC). It showed that the big core in Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 brings massive performance gains at the expense of efficiency.

Qualcomm’s last chip, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Plus platform, recorded an average power-consumption-per-watt of 4.9 in the SPEC benchmark. The company’s newer chip, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, had a 6.27 by the same metric. That’s a 28 percent year-over-year increase, which doesn’t mode well for efficiency. By that metric, Qualcomm’s new chip recorded a performance-per-watt of 11.05, which is down 11 percent. For those who might not be as well-versed in these kinds of benchmarks, you want a lower power-consumption-per-watt and a higher performance-per-watt score.

That means while the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 platform is trending up in performance, it’s trending downward in efficiency. Critics have pointed out that different Android OEMs optimize Qualcomm’s SoCs differently, so other smartphones might be more efficient than the Xiaomi 14 Pro. However, if these numbers are accurate across the board, it would mean that Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 would have to rely on cores with a lower power draw whenever possible.

Looking ahead to Snapdragon 8 Gen 4

Although this year’s suite of phones are set to use the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 platform, we’re already looking ahead to next year. That’s because Qualcomm is set to give its smartphone chips a big boost. The company unveiled its Snapdragon X Elite platform recently, and it features laptop-class chips with great performance and efficiency. It’s the first chip to feature custom Oryon cores as well. Previously, Qualcomm and other Android chipmakers licensed core designs from Arm. Now, Qualcomm is coming up with its own designs in-house, which will appear in Snapdragon 8 Gen 4.

So, while Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 might be a down year for Qualcomm and Android phones, there’s reason to be excited. The alarming power consumption and efficiency trends should be changing tune next year, even if there’s a bit of a lull before then.

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