Flashback: The Snapdragon 625 effectively conquered the midfield in 2016
Some chipsets are remembered more fondly than others – the Snapdragon 810 has quite a story to tell, but today we’re feeling in high spirits, so let’s look at the Snapdragon 625.
The Snapdragon 625 was unveiled in February 2016 and became the first 600-series chip to be manufactured using the power-efficient 14nm node. Its predecessor, the Snapdragon 617, was made on a 28nm node and it showed.
The new 625 consumes 35% less energy than its predecessor in typical daily use. To put that into perspective, if a phone with the old chip had just enough battery power to last from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., that same phone would have survived late into the evening if it had been powered by the new chip instead.
Long battery life became one of the Snapdragon 625’s calling cards. some of the more interesting devices that used the 625.
But first, let’s introduce the hardware. The processor had eight Cortex-A53 cores, not the fastest cores in the world, but the 14nm node allowed them to reach clock speeds of up to 2.0 GHz. For comparison, the previous chip also had A53s, but they were split into a 4x 1.5 GHz + 4x 1.2 GHz configuration.
The Snapdragon 625 had dual ISPs that could handle up to 24MP cameras and even 4K video recording (using both AVC and HEVC). This was normally left to higher end chips like the Snapdragon 650/652.
The chip also enabled a solid connectivity suite (for the mid-range). It had an X9 LTE modem – up to 300 Mbps downlink, 150 Mbps uplink – and a Wi-Fi 5 (ac) modem for speeds up to 433 Mbps. There was also Bluetooth 4.1 on board, along with support for GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and Beidou.
The Snapdragon 625 had everything a phone in the lower mid-range segment needed. Performance was solid but not groundbreaking, and the limitation of FHD-class displays precluded more premium apps (you needed at least a Snapdragon 650 if you wanted a QHD display).
Asus was an early adopter of the Zenfone 3 series. The ZE552KL featured a 5.5-inch 1080p display and managed to get 74 hours of battery life from a 3000mAh battery (the phone was quite thin at 7.7mm).
The Zenfone 3 Deluxe 5.5 ZS550KL was an interesting device – its name was dangerously similar to the ZS5570 Deluxe, which featured the Snapdragon 820 and 821. The ZS550KL, however, got the Snapdragon 625 instead. Also different screen, different cameras etc.
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE520KL • Zenfone 3 ZE552KL • Zenfone 3 Deluxe 5.5 ZS550KL • Zenfone 3 Zoom ZE553KL
Was the 625 really fast enough to compete with the 820? Well, yes and no, mostly no. The A53 cores were sluggish individually, though all eight of them managed to outshine a Snapdragon 820-powered OnePlus 3 by a hair in the Geekbench 4 multi-core test. The GPU, however, was nowhere near close.
Another phone that might have caused confusion and disappointment with its name was the Zenfone 3 Zoom ZE553KL. The “zoom” here was just a 2.3x lens set at 59mm, nothing to do with the variable focal length periscope of the original Zenfone Zoom (ZX550).
Xiaomi has also used the Snapdragon 625 in several devices, including the Mi A1, its first Android One phone. At the time, he was enthusiastically received. Several botched updates tempered this enthusiasm, although it wasn’t 625’s fault. The chip was also repurposed for the Mi A2 Lite from the following year.
Xiaomi Mi A1 (Mi 5X) • Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite (Redmi 6 Pro) • Xiaomi Mi Max 2 • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4
Another standout Xiaomi from that era is the Mi Max 2, a behemoth with a 6.44-inch display – remember, it was 16:9 back then, so this device was 174.1mm tall and 88.7mm wide. battery, which reached an autonomy of 126h thanks to the efficient chipset.
The 625 was also used in the fan-favorite Redmi Note 4. With a good quality 5.5″ 1080p screen, aluminum frame, decent camera and impressive battery life – 119 hours of endurance, even though the battery was only 4100mAh – made this one of the best value for money telephones of the time.
Samsung has also used the chip, for example in the Galaxy C7. This fairly affordable phone sported a large 5.7-inch Super AMOLED with 1080p resolution, an aluminum frame and a fairly small 3300mAh battery that nonetheless scored 100h in our test. ‘endurance. That’s the magic of the Snapdragon 625.
The 625 was also used in some regional devices like the Galaxy On7 (2016) launched in China and South Korea and the very similar Galaxy J7 V for US carriers.
Samsung Galaxy C7 • Samsung Galaxy On7 (2016) • Samsung Galaxy J7 V
Motorola and Lenovo also had fun devices. The Moto Z Play was the affordable Z phone but was still compatible with the innovative (if unfortunate) Moto Mod modular system. There were also the much more standard phones like the Moto G5 Plus and G5S Plus.
Several Lenovo tablets used the 625, for example, the Yoga Tab 3 Plus with its unusual “folded magazine” style underside which contained a large speaker and kickstand. There were also slimmer devices like the 7mm Lenovo Tab 4 10 Plus.
Motorola Moto Z Play • Motorola Moto G5S Plus • Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Plus • Lenovo Tab 4 10 Plus
After the failure of the premium Passport and Priv, BlackBerry tried something more affordable. The BlackBerry Keyone was a portrait device with a 4.5-inch screen and a hardware QWERTY keyboard – and a Snapdragon 625, of course. This was after BlackBerry OS so it ran Android 7.1 Nougat at launch.
A few months later came the full-touch BlackBerry Motion with a 5.5” 1080p display. Android had given up its keyboard addiction early on.
BlackBerry Keyone • BlackBerry Motion
A fairly unique device alongside the Snapdragon 625 was the YotaPhone 3. This dual-screen phone had a 5.5″ (1080p) AMOLED panel on one side and a 5.2″ e-Ink display on the other ( 720p). The e-Ink screen had capacitive touch and was always on, constantly displaying informative widgets.
Yota Yota Phone 3
We will end our trip down memory lane with the ZTE Spro Plus, a curious smart projector. It was kind of a tablet with an 8.4″ AMOLED screen (2560 x 1600 px) and ran Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Obviously the most important feature was the 500 lumens (1366 x 768 px) which could create an 80″ image at a distance of 2.4m. With a huge 12,100mAh battery, 4W Harman speakers and built-in LTE modem, it could create a personal theater anywhere.
The ZTE Spro Plus Android projector/tablet
We’ve overlooked a number of Snapdragon 625-powered devices – there are 48 devices in our database and that’s not counting weird gadgets like the Spro. The very first Huawei nova used the 625, for example, as did a large number of ZTE phones.
The last phones with the 625 came out in 2018, two years after the first ones launched – it was a testament to the chipset’s capability and popularity.
Qualcomm also released the Snapdragon 626 in 2016, a slightly overclocked version, which ran its eight Cortex-A53 cores at 2.2 GHz (down from 2.0 GHz). This version has been used in several phones, the last of which was released in 2019.
These days, the Snapdragon 680 continues the work started by the 625, a popular chipset that meets the demands of cheap, efficient, decently powerful, and with a built-in 4G modem.
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