Smartphone for Snapdragon insiders initial review: An impressive package?

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(Pocket-lint) - The Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders sees Qualcomm moving with Asus to contiguous a telephone - arsenic portion of a bundle - designed for those who emotion each things Snapdragon.

That mightiness dependable similar thing of an abstraction, a small similar Intel making a laptop for its fans, but what it does is springiness Qualcomm the accidental to propulsion a instrumentality of its own. With implicit a cardinal fans successful the Snapdragon Insiders community, it's these radical this telephone is aimed at.

But astatine its heart, the Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders is simply a flagship-grade Android instrumentality and 1 that should beryllium of involvement to each Android users.

Design and build

  • 173.1 x 77.2 x 9.5mm, 210g
  • Rear fingerprint scanner
  • Dual stereo speakers

The Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders has been built by Asus and that gives you a large penetration into what to expect. While Asus has launched its ain flagship - the Zenfone 8 - and it's dedicated gaming telephone - the ROG Phone 5 - it doesn't person thing successful this benignant of position.

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What is this position? A large flagship phone.

It's thing of a operation of the acquisition of the Zenfone with overmuch of the size and spec of the ROG Phone - and that's a coagulated instauration to commencement from. It's a large phone, naturally, but there's a prime to the plan and finish, with a mates of notable elements to marque it basal out. The astir evident is the Snapdragon logo connected the rear of the phone.


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This volition illuminate either arsenic a static logo oregon with a pulsing breathing effect. It lone offers achromatic illumination truthful it's not the RGB effect that's fashionable elsewhere. You tin crook it disconnected if you don't privation it, you tin person it crook disconnected erstwhile the surface is disconnected - but sadly there's nary nexus to systems similar Do Not Disturb - truthful if you unlock your telephone successful the mediate of the night, the logo volition illuminate the darkened room.

We ended up turning it disconnected for this reason, which is simply a spot of a shame, due to the fact that it's nicely unique.

The different flimsy oddity of the Smartphone for Snapdragon insiders is that it uses a rear fingerprint scanner, alternatively than an in-display scanner. It's besides flush mounted with the surface, truthful we recovered it somewhat little effectual than those that are somewhat recessed, with occasional reminders for america to screen the full scanner, but you volition get utilized to it.


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The surface is level - reflecting the show of the ROG Phone 5 - with stereo speakers offering large show watching video oregon playing games, but there's nary 3.5mm headphone socket.

There's besides nary IP standing which seems an oddity for a telephone astatine this price. We fishy that's due to the fact that it's based connected the ROG Phone 5 which doesn't person an IP standing either. That's astir apt the biggest disapproval we person of this telephone considering the price, though that's a analyzable communicative which we'll determination onto now.

What's successful the box?

While astir of the involvement volition beryllium connected the smartphone itself, there's a batch much to this bundle - which goes immoderate mode to explicate the price.

The biggest constituent is the headphones that travel successful the box. These are customized versions of the Master & Dynamic MW08 headphones - headphones that outgo £279 oregon $299. That's a large outgo to beryllium bundling into the box, but it is an exceptionally bully acceptable of headphones.


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Subtract that from the asking terms for the telephone - and the outgo becomes a batch much competitive.

The MW08 headphones person been included to showcase Snapdragon Sound - including 24-bit 96kHz wireless audio for listening - arsenic good arsenic wideband enactment for dependable calls too. However, astatine the clip of writing, the headphone illustration we had was a preproduction version, truthful though it sounds fantastic, it's not the afloat 96kHz acquisition yet. We volition update erstwhile we person a last illustration from Qualcomm.

There's besides a 65W charger successful the box. Many person been stripping retired chargers, but this is simply a afloat Qualcomm Quick Charge 5 unit, with 2 braided cables - the benignant of charger you'd privation to support and usage for each your devices.


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Finally there's a bumper to support the phone. While it lone covers the edges, it provides extortion for the corners and a articulator beforehand and backmost to support the surface from scratches erstwhile you enactment the telephone down. Again, it's bully prime and a utile addition.

So the bundle is precise overmuch what this telephone is astir - and there's thing present that's junk that's conscionable thrown in. At the aforesaid time, if you already person a brace of high-quality headphones, it mightiness look similar you're spending wealth connected headphones again and to a definite grade that's existent - though your existing headphones mightiness not enactment Snapdragon Sound.


  • 6.78in, 2448 x 1080 pixels (395ppi), 144Hz
  • AMOLED, HDR10+
  • Gorilla Glass Victus

As we said, the surface connected the Qualcomm telephone is flat, astir apt due to the fact that it's the aforesaid arsenic the ROG Phone 5 panel. It's a Samsung AMOLED display, measuring 6.78 inches connected the diagonal and sporting a 2448 x 1080 pixel resolution. This equates to 395ppi.

This isn't the highest solution astir - you'll get much from the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra for illustration - but galore phones are offering specified afloat HD+ resolutions, particularly gaming phones.


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Qualcomm is offering up to 144Hz refresh complaint connected this show - similar the ROG Phone 5 again - with the enactment to prime an adaptive refresh, oregon to prime 60, 120 oregon 144Hz. That gives you the state to take your preference, we fishy astir volition instrumentality to car and permission it astatine that.

We've recovered the show connected the Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders to beryllium a large performer, plentifulness of brightness with 1200 nit peak, with that bully prime you expect from a Samsung AMOLED. That gives plentifulness of popular and saturation for affluent visuals, but besides offering Asus' Splendid strategy truthful you tin tune the show to your preference.

It supports HDR, truthful you'll spot that compatibility erstwhile you're streaming from a root that offers it, similar Netflix, making definite you're getting the champion prime from your content.


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Overall, the show is awesome and we're precise blessed with the acquisition that this telephone has offered us.

There's a mates of things to enactment astir the design, specified arsenic the wider bezels apical and bottommost than you'll find connected immoderate phones. This has fixed Qualcomm the accidental to support the beforehand camera successful the bezel alternatively than usage a punch spread oregon a notch and we overmuch similar that.

It's a plan that lends itself to gaming - which makes consciousness considering the adjacent narration to the ROG Phone 5 - and we've recovered it a bully performer successful gaming sessions.

Hardware and performance

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, 12GB RAM
  • 512GB storage
  • Dual SIM, planetary 5G, Wi-Fi 6E
  • 4000mAh, 65W charging

It's nary astonishment to find the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 astatine the halfway of the Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders and it's nary astonishment to find that this is simply a creaseless and almighty phone. That's precisely what Qualcomm intended and precisely what we've recovered from different Snapdragon 888 phones too.

There's 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. Again, that higher level of retention is thing that volition marque this telephone a small much expensive, but there's nary microSD paper enactment here.


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With Qualcomm having been a immense driving unit down 5G, there's planetary 5G support, truthful determination are nary determination versions of this telephone - it's 1 telephone and everyone gets enactment for everything. We've recovered the wireless connectivity to beryllium solid, allowing america to hotspot successful distant regions and support each our devices connected.

One of the things we similar astir this telephone is that it runs smoothly without getting excessively hot, truthful those agelong gaming sessions won't spot the telephone heating up successful the aforesaid mode it does connected the Asus Zenfone 8, truthful that acquisition is amended here.

Again, there's a batch going for the Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders arsenic a gaming instrumentality - but the deficiency of immoderate bundle to power the gaming acquisition (aside from sound) means that immoderate mightiness similar the ROG Phone 5 for the Game Genie options.


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The happening that mightiness travel arsenic a astonishment is that there's lone a 4000mAh battery. Ok, it's inactive beauteous large, but with 5000mAh communal connected this size of device, this is simply a alternatively tiny artillery capacity.

The telephone volition besides munch done that artillery beauteous rapidly erstwhile you're gaming connected 5G, with apical brightness and those speakers firing - truthful we can't accidental that this telephone has the champion endurance retired there.

The enactment for 65W wired charging is welcomed truthful and arsenic we mentioned, there's a bundled charger successful the container that volition springiness you these speeds. There's nary wireless charging support.

Overall, it's a flagship show from the Qualcomm telephone and it's hard to spot that anyone would beryllium near wanting - but ticker that artillery connected longer days.

Camera performance

  • Triple camera system:
    • Main: Sony IMX686, 64MP, 1/1.73in, 0.8μm, f/1.8, OIS
    • Ultrawide: Sony IMX363, 12MP, 1/2.55in, 1.4μm, f/2.2
    • Telephoto: 8MP, 3x optical, 12x digital, OIS
  • Front: 24MP

There's a triple camera strategy connected the rear of the Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders, pairing a 64-megapixel main camera, with a 12-megapixel ultrawide and 8-megapixel telephoto. There's nary periscope lens for much utmost zoom, truthful there's 3x optical stretching up to 12x digital.


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We've been utilizing this camera successful a wide scope of situations, but Qualcomm has been successful interaction to accidental that determination is simply a further bundle update coming that volition elevate the acquisition more, truthful we'll beryllium updating successful the adjacent aboriginal erstwhile that's travel done - but these are our experiences truthful far.

The main camera is mostly good, offering bully HDR show and capable to seizure bully shots successful astir conditions. It's not the strongest performer successful debased airy - indoor photos tin get a small brushed losing item - and debased airy photos, adjacent with the nighttime mode, don't get rather the assistance we've seen telephone phones similar the Pixel successful the past - but Qualcomm says determination are improvements to travel here.

The ultrawide is mostly beauteous bully and the telephoto springiness an casual 3x optical zoom option, though you'll announcement a colouration alteration owed to the smaller aperture, photos losing sharpness and warming somewhat arsenic you displacement to the zoom, again, with struggles successful debased airy conditions.



There's 12x integer zoom and we similar the information you tin pinch successful and retired done the full zoom range, from ultrawide retired to the afloat 12x, though astatine the acold extremity things are a small softer and little accomplished.

There's a utile representation mode from the main camera, which defaults to 2x zoom, but tin beryllium knocked backmost to the wider 1x presumption if you prefer. It volition accurately prime retired the subject, letting you set the level of blurring arsenic you wish, some earlier oregon aft taking the shot.

Strangely, there's nary representation mode connected the beforehand camera, truthful it's conscionable a lawsuit of constituent and shoot. The beforehand camera - each 24-megapxiels of it - has an "optimisation" mode successful the settings which sharpens the image. That mightiness springiness a amended photo, but it besides makes faces sharper, which isn't ever precise flattering, often highlighting wrinkles and blemishes.

The beforehand camera, again, isn't particularly bully successful debased airy conditions, getting softer rapidly arsenic the airy dips, truthful it can't lucifer a telephone similar the Pixel.

There's immoderate awesome stabilisation connected rear video, which volition support those steps and pans smooth, with seizure up to 8K. There's the enactment for HDR connected video too, though this lone works connected the ultrawide rear camera and the beforehand camera. In some cases, we recovered the HDR relation tin permission things looking a small unrealistic, particularly things adjacent to the camera (like your face), truthful it's not particularly useful.

There's besides an autotracking relation connected video, designed truthful you tin get it to absorption connected your canine (for example) and marque definite that stays successful absorption arsenic it moves astir the frame.

Overall, the show of the cameras connected the Qualcomm telephone volition service astir radical beauteous well. There's 3 utile lenses, an app that's elemental to usage without being overcomplicated with tons of functions you mightiness ne'er find.

The camera besides doesn't interruption immoderate caller ground: rival flagships connection large zoom options, there's amended debased airy show elsewhere - and we've had a mates of unusual mash-up images successful our photograph rotation (which you tin spot below) - but with improvements inactive to travel for the camera hopefully we'll get a amended wide performance.




  • Android 11
  • Some app duplication

It's connected the bundle beforehand that you spot immoderate of the power of Asus. As we discovered connected the Zenfone 8, Asus has a airy interaction with software, mostly leaving it to Android to tally the show.

Qualcomm announced this arsenic a axenic Android telephone and that's astir what you get, though the launcher is from Asus and there's a Gallery app arsenic good arsenic a duplication of the contacts and telephone apps. The icons are fundamentally identical to those from Google too, truthful you mightiness ne'er notice, unless you spell hunting for a diagnostic that Google offers that Asus doesn't - you can't region those duplications either, truthful many, we suspect, volition instrumentality with Asus' versions alternatively than Google's.


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There's a bundled upwind app and an app to negociate the Master & Dynamic headphones. As we said, these were preproduction headphone successful our reappraisal bundle and truthful the information that the app wouldn't update the firmware doesn't travel arsenic overmuch of a surprise.

To enactment the dependable broadside of this phone, there's a mates of options to power the sound, extracurricular of the dedicated headphone app. When connected to the headset you're told that it's utilizing Qualcomm aptX Adaptive (if supported), with the enactment to toggle disconnected the 96kHz if you want, portion there's besides a Sound Optimization are of the settings, letting you customise dependable for music, movies, games oregon dependable - with an automatic illustration to beryllium implicit the top.


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This means you tin opt to tune antithetic audio outputs differently, for illustration boosting bass connected music, but switching that disconnected for movies, and boosting dependable instead. You person to power manually, oregon conscionable permission it connected car and fto the telephone bash it for you.

Overall, it's a bully cleanable acquisition connected the bundle beforehand and it's lone the tendency for much elaborate gaming controls that we deliberation could beryllium useful. There are Elite Gaming Options successful the settings menu, which volition let you to prime the refresh complaint and customise the graphics show for each crippled - but we find ourselves missing a due gaming paper connected a telephone similar this that plays games well.

First Impressions

When Qualcomm announced that it was launching its ain telephone for fans - with Asus - astir radical expected it to beryllium accomplished. It's a bully phone, with fewer shortcomings, and a mates of improvements to travel done bundle that Qualcomm has already confirmed with us, which mightiness marque a difference.

So who should beryllium funny successful this phone? It truly has thing to bash with being a Snapdragon instrumentality - it's a flagship level Android phone, but there's nary shortage of those, with the likes of Samsung dominating this assemblage - and disposable astir the aforesaid price.

For many, the determination connected whether to bargain this telephone volition travel down to however charismatic that bundle looks - there's a batch successful the box, but earlier we tin urge you unreserved retired and bargain this phone, we privation to spot much from those promised updates.

Alternatives to consider


alternatives photograph  1

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is 1 of the apical phones of 2021 offering power, a large display, and a scope of utile cameras offering functions you don't get connected rival devices.


Writing by Chris Hall. Originally published connected 16 August 2021.

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