Qualcomm's Snapdragon 870 is a faster 865, but without WiFi 6E

Did Qualcomm kill off Wi-Fi 6E support for cost reasons, or to protect its mesh networking chipsets?

Credit: Qualcomm

Roughly a month after launching the Snapdragon 888 for next-gen smartphones, Qualcomm decided to go back to its earlier Snapdragon 865 to tweak it once again, resulting in the upgraded Snapdragon 870. The only gotcha? A lack of Wi-Fi 6E.

In a nutshell, the new Snapdragon 870 is a faster version of the original Snapdragon 865. Qualcomm corralled a number of its partners to endorse the new 870 chip, including OnePlus. Devices based on the Snapdragon 870 will be released this quarter, Qualcomm said.

Tweaks to existing Snapdragon processors aren’t unusual; after all, last July’s Snapdragon 865 Plus was the first time Qualcomm tweaked the Snapdragon 865. The 865 Plus dialed up the Kryo CPU’s clock speed, as well as the speed of the Adreno 650 GPU. By contrast, the 870 simply nudges to the Kryo CPU clock speed, from 3.1GHz to the new 3.2GHz clock speed. And that’s all, according to Qualcomm.

Well, sort of. According to product documentation that Qualcomm provided, the Snapdragon 870 is identical to the Snapdragon 865 Plus—line by line. This means that the 870 includes the Snapdragon X55 5G modem that the Snapdragon 865 Plus did. (Qualcomm refers to the entire package of the CPU and modem as the “Snapdragon X55 Plus 5G Platform.”)

However, the Snapdragon 865 Plus used the FastConnect 6900, the name of the Snapdragon’s Wi-Fi/Bluetooth model. The 870 uses the FastConnect 6800. The difference, as noted above, is the lack of Wi-Fi 6E—which lassos the 6GHz frequency band the U.S. government freed up last year and creates a third frequency band for high-speed communication, alongside 2.4GHz and 5GHz.

Last year, Qualcomm announced a series of mesh-networking chipsets that use Wi-Fi 6E, specifically as a “clean” backhaul between the routers, unsullied by other devices trying to access the 6GHz band. While it’s possible Qualcomm eliminated Wi-Fi 6E from the Snapdragon 870 specifically to avoid overcrowding its mesh networking backhaul, we really don’t know; we reached out to Qualcomm and didn’t hear back by press time. 

The Snapdragon 870 was endorsed by a number of Qualcomm customers: Motorola, OnePlus, Oppo, iQOO, and Xiaomi. While none of the vendors announced specific phones based on the new Snapdragon 870, it’s a pretty safe bet that some are in the works.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Mark Hachman

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Cate Bacon

Aruba Instant On AP11D

The strength of the Aruba Instant On AP11D is that the design and feature set support the modern, flexible, and mobile way of working.

Dr Prabigya Shiwakoti

Aruba Instant On AP11D

Aruba backs the AP11D up with a two-year warranty and 24/7 phone support.

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?