The Snapdragon 678 is a modest update to a two-year-old chip

With devices like the Pixel 5 and OnePlus Nord, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 700-series chips have been the go-to for most mid-range phones in 2020. But the chipmaker hasn’t forgotten about its 600-series. It’s adding a member to the mid-range family called the Snapdragon 678 that builds on the 2018 Snapdragon 675

More than two years after Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 675, you might think the 678 is a major refresh, but it doesn’t actually change a lot. Most notably, it features the same Kyro 460 CPU and Adreno 612 GPU components as its predecessor. However, Qualcomm has made some tweaks that should help the 678 outperform the 675. On the 678, the Kyro 460 now maxes out at 2.2GHz, up from the 2.0 GHz on the 675. The chipmaker says it’s tweaked the Adreno 612 to increase performance — but didn’t provide too many details on how it went about that. To be clear, whatever performance improvements Qualcomm was able to eke out of them should be modest; the chip is built on the same 11nm process that the company used for the 675.   

The included Spectra 250L ISP makes the 678 capable of capturing limitless 4K video and stills at up to 48-megapixels. It can also support dual-camera systems of up 16-megapixels. It also comes with built-in support for all the usual photography features you expect, including portrait mode, 5x optical zoom and low-light capture.   

When it comes to connectivity, the 678 includes the same X12 LTE modem that came with the 675, but Qualcomm has added support for a feature called License Assisted Access (LAA) that taps unlicensed 5GHz spectrum in combination with carrier aggregation to increase capacity. In ideal conditions, you’ll still get fast download speeds, with Qualcomm claiming the X12 can deliver theoretical download speeds of up to 600Mbps. However, the X12 won’t let you connect to any 5G networks. Rounding out the connectivity package, the 678 comes with WiFi 802.11n and Bluetooth 5.0 support. 

The Snapdragon 675 mostly made its way inside phones from Chinese OEMs like Xiaomi and Oppo. It came to North American thanks to phones like the Motorola Moto Z4. The fact the 678 doesn’t include 5G connectivity may limit its appeal since most North American carriers are currently trying to sell consumers on the strengths of their 5G networks.

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