New Snappy Dragon! Five Things You Should Know About the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855

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A processor is basically the brain of a smartphone – the part that makes it smart or dull, or fast or slow. While each component has its own importance in a smartphone’s anatomy, the processor is really the part that brings it all together. And one of the top manufacturers in the processor game is Qualcomm – and it enjoys the sort of reputation in the mobile segment that Intel does in the computer one. The company has processors for different price bands but once a year, just like a smartphone company launches a flagship phone, Qualcomm launches a flagship chipset. In 2017, the company released the very successful Snapdragon 845 processor and this year it has come out with its successor, the Snapdragon 855.  It is pretty much given that this “phone brain” is supposed to be more powerful, clever and fast, than the previous one, but here are the top five features of the new Snapdragon 855 chipset that make it even more fiery:

5G Compatibility: Not out of the box, but definitely a speed demon
One of the most highlighted and talked about feature of the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 is how the chipset offers 5G compatibility, but matters are not as simple as they may look on the surface. The 5G connectivity on the 855 is offered by Qualcomm’s 5G X50 modem. Unfortunately, the company has not yet reached the stage where it has optimized the 5G modem to be integrated in the processor. In simple language, the 5G support will not be by default in the smartphones that will be powered by the new SoC. This means you could have a device running on Snapdragon 855 and still not have 5G connectivity. That said, the Qualcomm X50 modem and radio antennas can be externally paired with the processor which will then enable the 5G connection.

So, what is it exactly that you will be getting with the 855 processor?  Well, the Snapdragon 855 boasts the Qualcomm’s X24 modem which is a definite step up from the one in the 845, the X20 modem.  The new X24 LTE modem is the company’s first Category 20 LTE compliant piece. It claims to come with download capabilities of upto 2 Gbps and upload speeds touching 316 Mbps. This is because the new processor comes with a 4 x 4 MIMO interface and support for upto 7 x 20 MHz carrier aggregation in the downlink and 3 x 20 MHz aggregation in the uplink.

In simple language, the 855 SoC, should improve your existing 4G connectivity and the speed of the general download and upload process for the smartphones powered by the processor should be much faster.  Faster browsing and downloads, here they come!

Smaller and more powerful: 7 nanometers in size, Herculean in prowess
This year Apple introduced a 7-nanometer processor on its iPhone Xs and iPhone XS Max, the A12 Bionic. Taking a bit of inspiration from its competitor, Qualcomm with Snapdragon 855 has also jumped on the 7-nanometer bandwagon. Why is this important? Simply because it makes more room for other components on a smartphone. The new processor is coupled with an Adreno 640 GPU that will offer 20 per cent more graphics performance as compared to Snapdragon 845. The company has pushed the CPU performance even further. With the Kryo 485 CPU, the SoC will increase the performance of the smartphone running on 855 processor by a massive 45 per cent as compared to its predecessor. All thanks to the 8 cores on the Kryo 845. The CPU will have one prime core, three performance cores and four efficiency cores. Simple English: more high-end gaming than ever will now be possible on gaming is going to get even more high-end than ever!

Better AR, VR and AI experience: they R are all there and better!
Augmented reality and virtual reality and AI are three of the key areas in the technology world that are now gaining their share of fame and Qualcomm with its new SoC has made sure that the AI, AR and VR experience on a smartphone powered by the 855 processor only gets better. To improve AI performance, the 855 chipset is coupled with a Hexagon processor. This one along with the Adreno and Kyro processors will boost the AI performance of a device. Qualcomm calls this the “fourth generation AI engine,” and it will deliver a three fold performance improvement  for AI operations and will offer double the vector processing as compared to its predecessor.

As per the company, the 855 chipset can support VR headsets with 8K resolution (yes!) at 120 fps. AR will also get improved with the new 855 as the company claims the SoC will help provide a more realistic view and will allow digital objects to be laid on top of reality more efficiently.

Camera: an updated camera processor and so much more portrait mode magic
The new chipset from Qualcomm is not all about power and speed. The processor also brings some changes for the camera component of a device. The Snapdragon 855 processor comes with an updated Spectra 380 image signal processor (ISP). This will allow the device running on 855 to sense depth at 60 fps that will offer features like portrait mode preview in real time, portrait mode videos with real-time HDR at 4K resolution. And also on offer is better battery life: Qualcomm’s promising a 2-4x battery life improvement from its new image signal processor, because it doesn’t have to fire up the CPU and GPU as often.  Taking a bit more inspiration from our friends at Cupertino that changed the image format on Apple devices to HEIF, Qualcomm has also decided to shift from JPEG to HEIF.

Battery: longer than before
Now you might be wondering how much battery is all that power going to cost you? Well, Qualcomm has actually worked on that bit as well. While it did not talk much about how much the battery will be improved with new 855 processor but demos by the company did reflect that devices running the 855 will comfortably outlast the devices running 845 when put through same tasks. There is no change in the Quick Charge technology as the new Snapdragon comes with Quick Charge 4+, the same one we saw on the Snapdragon 845 last year.

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