The Samsung XR headset and Meta Quest Pro 2 might skip a generation of Qualcomm chipsets to beat the Apple Vision Pro

While next-gen VR devices like the Samsung XR headset still haven’t yet launched, Qualcomm is reportedly already preparing for the next-next-gen models – which could include the Meta Quest Pro 2 and Meta Quest 4.

That’s according to rumors that it's testing new Snapdragon XR2 Gen 3 and XR2+ Gen 3 chipsets, as well as loaning them to headset makers. The XR2 Gen 3 would be an upgrade on the chip that powers the Meta Quest 3, but the XR2+ Gen 3 rumor is perhaps more interesting because we haven’t yet seen any XR2+ Gen 2 models in action. Maybe we never will.

Okay, okay, so we probably will see some XR2+ Gen 2-powered models launch later this year. But some of the big hitters like the aforementioned Samsung XR headset, a Sony headset (that’s not PSVR-related) and an HTC device might see their launch held back if a Gen 3 is around the corner so they can be upgraded; especially because we haven’t heard much about many of these XR2+ Gen 2 headsets since their brief announcement.

Admittedly, upgraded tech is always on the horizon and headset makers can’t forever wait for innovation to stop so they can release their gadgets. But one reason why holding off until the Gen 3 is ready is that it’s apparently a much more significant step up than the XR2+ Gen 2 was compared to the Gen 1 – with the Gen 3 reportedly offering support for up to 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM and Oryon CPU Cores (found in the impressive Snapdragon X Elite) according to XR expert Brad Lynch, and supported by WinFuture's Roland Quandt (via Android Central).

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A necessary upgrade

That 16GB RAM figure is of note because it would seemingly bring XR2+ Gen 3 headsets more in line with the processing power of the Apple Vision Pro – which also has 16GB of RAM – which is currently the one to beat in terms of performance. As such, headset manufacturers may have been candid with Qualcomm by letting it know the XR2+ Gen 2 just isn’t the powerhouse they need it to be, and a new model is needed ASAP.

Lance Ulanoff wearing Apple Vision Pro

The Apple Vision Pro is a powerhouse (Image credit: Future)

As with all leaks we have to take these XR2+ Gen 3 details with a pinch of salt. Until we see the Gen 3 officially who knows when or if it’s on its way anytime soon. Plus, even if the Gen 3 is being tested right now there are many reasons why we won’t see it for several years – such as manufacturing difficulties that need to be overcome.

But with a few leakers teasing that something is on its way, we wouldn’t be shocked if this Gen 3 XR2+ chipset arrives a lot sooner than we expected. We’ll just have to wait and see.

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Huawei could be forced to use Snapdragon chipsets

Huawei has been dragged in the dirty tug-of-war that has been going on since some time between both the US and the Chinese governments. The Trump Administration has time and again introduced sanctions making it difficult for the Chinese company to work with American companies.

Continuing its clampdown on Huawei further, the U.S. Commerce Department introduced a new export rule mandating all the chipmaker companies, who plan to supply components to Huawei, to apply for an additional license thus controlling the crucial supply chain of the Chinese company.

This sanction means that Huawei cannot get its HiSilicon chipsets made by chip-making TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company). For the uninitiated, TSMC is the world’s largest contract chipmaker that makes chipsets on contract for companies like Apple, Huawei, Qualcomm and MediaTek etc.

No more HiSilicon SoCs on Huawei phones?

As per this report, TSMC will not be allowed to ship chipsets to Huawei after September 14 which leaves Huawei with only enough time to procure the new 5nm HiSilicon Kirin SoCs for its next flagship smartphone Mate 40.

Since it will be up to the U.S. Government to permit TSMC or any other company to supply components to the Chinese smartphone maker, it leaves Huawei in a fix as the company may not be able to source enough SoCs for the phones that are scheduled to launch in 2021. The company is scheduled to release phones like the P50 and Mate 50 series as well as all other phones for Huawei and its sub-brand Honor. Hence it may be forced to look for an alternate

In a bid to reduce its dependency on TSMC, Huawei has proactively started working with another Taiwanese company MediaTek that is known for making chipsets for budget and entry-level smartphones and has a capacity to produce 5G chipsets even for cheaper phones.

Some rumours suggest that Huawei may try to scout chipsets from TSMC indirectly using its newfound ally, MediaTek. However, there is always a fear that the Trump administration may come up with another ruling to tap this workaround.

Apart from MediaTek, Huawei is also said to be working with a relatively lesser-known company -SMIC. Despite being China’s biggest foundry, SMIC does not have the required technology to make advanced 5nm chipsets. It is still said to be struggling to come up with the 7nm and 8nm process due to the unavailability of required equipment.

Hence the only company left that is both capable and has the requisite technology ready to manufacture and supply flagship-grade SoC’s to Huawei is Qualcomm.

Will Trump govt allow Qualcomm to supply chips to Huawei?

Like any other company, even Qualcomm will have to follow the licensing route to supply chipsets to Huawei, however, it is quite likely that the US-based chipmaker may get the nod to do so. Interestingly, even Qualcomm’s chipsets are manufactured by TSMC.

Allowing Qualcomm to supply chipsets to Huawei may have multiple benefits. Since Huawei is a huge company and despite all the clampdowns it still sells a lot of smartphones, partnering with it means a huge economical gain for any company.

Secondly, Qualcomm holds a major chunk of the chipset market and this deal could only strengthen its position against its competitor brands like MediaTek.

Lastly, working with Huawei may allow US companies to gain in terms of technology transfer as Huawei is still a global leader in terms of 5G technology. Even the Pentagon had once countered the Trump Administration’s decision to put additional blocks on Huawei by stating that the money received from selling components to Huawei could allow the US companies to invest in critical functions like R&D.

However, it will have to be seen if Huawei wants to work with a US company like Qualcomm since it has been trying to distance itself from American companies and wants to overcome these sanctions on its own conditions.

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