Why Next-Gen Android Flagships Are Rumored For A Hefty Price Hike

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra 8
Look at the heart of most flagship Android phones, and you'll find Qualcomm silicon. The San Diego-based firm has seen huge success with its Snapdragon Arm chips, but OEMs looking to use the next-gen version might be hit with sticker shock. A leak on the Chinese Weibo social network predicts the price of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 will "increase significantly." That could mean more expensive phones at the consumer level.

The Snapdragon 8 series has become the gold standard for high-end Android devices, but sometimes you already have to pay a premium to get it. Samsung includes the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 in its most expensive Galaxy S24 Ultra smartphone (above), but the S24 and S24+ have less desirable Exynos processors in many markets around the world. This chip reportedly came with a 25% price increase compared to the last generation, and that might already have prompted prices to move up. For example, the S24 Ultra was $100 more than the previous gen.

The new claim of a price bump comes by way of digital chat station, a Chinese leaker with a solid track record. According to the post, the SM8750 wafer from which the SD8 Gen 4 will be derived is much more expensive to produce. The leaker goes on to suggest that the makers of budget flagship phones in China will have to decide whether to increase pricing beyond 3,000 yuan or go with a cheaper SoC.

TSMC Weibo

Qualcomm is reportedly looking at a move to TSMC's 3nm manufacturing process for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 4. Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is currently on 4nm. Apple previously made news for buying up almost all of TSMC's 4nm manufacturing capacity for its M3 chips, allowing TSMC to name its price for whatever's left. The situation may be even tougher for Qualcomm as TSMC spins up 3nm manufacturing—Apple is already there with the TSMC-manufactured M4 chip, which it will need in large volumes going forward.

This could all mean that your next high-end smartphone costs a little bit more. On one hand, the people still willing to pay $1,000 for a smartphone will probably still pay $1,100. However, each price increase makes these devices more of a niche. Mid-range phones have gotten quite good, and some people see phones as more of a commodity in 2024, rather than a luxury purchase. Eventually, even phone nerds will turn to cheaper options, if prices keep going up. 

We should have some clarity and truth on all this toward the end of 2024. That's when Qualcomm should be announcing it's Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 mobile platform. In the weeks that follow, smartphone vendors will begin announcing the first devices and talking pricing.