One of the recurring stories with Asus is how the business is planning on including Qualcomm System-on-Chips (or SoCs) in addition to or perhaps instead of the Intel Atom processors that currently reside in their ZenFone devices. Now, Asus’ Chief Executive Officer, Jerry Shen, has said in an interview with technology website Yugatech that the business is set to introduce the Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 into future ZenFone smartphone devices. The Snapdragon 615 is a mid-range model based around a similar big.LITTLE architecture of the high end Snapdragon 810 but somewhat toned down: there’s a 1.7 GHz quad core ARM Cortex-A57 processor combined with a quad core 1.0 GHz ARM Cortex-A53 processor. The SoC also includes the Adreno 405 GPU, Qualcomm QuickCharge 1.0 and 2.0, support for a 21MP camera, Category 4 LTE; it has some of the features of the higher end Snapdragon 810 but with none of the perceived overheating issues that the high end processor has suffered from.
Earlier in the year, Asus announced their ZenFone 2 range, all powered by 64-bit Intel Atom processors and with either 2 GB or 4 GB of memory. The high end model is complete with a 5.5-inch, 1080p display, a 2.3 GHz Intel Atom Z3580 processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 13MP rear camera and is available with either 16 GB or 64 GB of internal storage, plus a MicroSD card slot. The next model down substitutes a 1.8 GHz Intel Atom Z3560 processor and 2 GB of memory but otherwise has similar specifications. For these devices, it will be interesting to see how the Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 competes with the Atom Z3560 or Z3580 processor. The current line up are powered by Android 5.0 Lollipop.
However, there is another point that Jerry Shen brought to the interview that I would like to address: that of interim upgrades to the devices. Yes, I get that Asus will be mirroring Apple’s imaginative device naming convention and the next model in the range will be the ZenFone 3, but the plan to release a flagship every year with incremental upgrades in between has raised a little red warning card. We’ve seen other manufacturers do this such as HTC with the Sensation, followed by the Sensation XE (and arguably the XL), then the One X followed by the One X+. Sony’s current confused flagship strategy has an element of this in it too and is perhaps one of the reasons why Sony have struggled. Will Asus introduce a ZenFone 2+ based around the ARM processor rather than the Intel chip? If they do, does this mean that the Snapdragon 615 is a more powerful processor compared with the Intel Atom? Or does Asus have other tricks up their sleeve? I’ve included the video interview below, so take a look.