After months of speculation and discussion, chipmaker Qualcomm has officially announced that it will be releasing its most powerful mobile chipset, the Snapdragon 820. The new Snapdragon system-on-chip will be used in more than a dozen flagship smartphones next year, Qualcomm said.
The Snapdragon comes with a 64-bit octa-core Kryo processor and an Adreno 530 graphics processing unit, considered one of the most powerful on the market. The Kryo CPU core is a custom chip built on Samsung’s second-generation 14nm technology, allowing more transistors to be included on the processor, while reducing power usage and speeding up run time. Qualcomm said the CPU will offer up to twice the performance and efficiency as previous generation parts.
Smartphones that carry the Snapdragon 820 will also be able to support Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0. Qualcomm also says that the chipset will prove a boon for users who take photos with their mobile devices, removing noise in low-light shots and providing greater detail. According to Qualcomm, its Low Light Vision technology can compensate for high dynamic range scene and motion artifacts that can be caused by camera movement.
No handset makers have announced which of their products will include the new Snapdragon 820 CPU. The first smartphone to include the Snapdragon 820 chipset will reportedly be Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S7. Other devices being talked about as good fits for the chipset include the Xiaomi Mi5, HTC One M10, LG G5 and Oppo Find 9.
We reached out to Sergis Mushell, a Gartner Inc. analyst, who told us that the while the new Snapdragon seems like an excellent product, Qualcomm could face a challenge as it tries to get the chipset into devices manufactured by the top phone makers, making placement crucial.
"The top smartphone vendors, like Apple and Samsung, make their own processors," said Mushell. "How do you convince the top phone makers to use your chip? You can put them in lower-end devices, but then that means lower margins."
Qualcomm’s new X12 LTE Modem will be included in the Snapdragon 820, giving users the ability to download at 600 Mbps, with uploads speeds of up to 150 Mbps.
Linley Gwennap, principal analyst for The Linley Group, told us that the Snapdragon 820 sets new standards for features and performance, and could define what flagship smartphones will look like in the coming year.
"Although the company’s 2x claims are a bit overblown, I expect the 820 to deliver about 40 percent better performance than today’s top-end Android phones on both CPU and GPU benchmarks," said Gwennap. "The integrated modem is industry-leading and doubles the peak data rate of the modem in today’s best phones."
The new chipset is designed to easily handle 4K video, making it a good fit for devices with high-resolution 4-megapixel or 8-megapixel displays, added Gwennap. The Snapdragon 820 also boasts new capabilities including LTE Unlicensed and 802.11ad high-speed (60 GHz) wireless communications technology.
Image credit: Product shot by Qualcomm.