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Qualcomm’s New Snapdragon 855 Will Bring Forth the First Wave of 5G Smartphones [Updated w/ All the Details]

Update 12-5-2018 5:04 PM ET: Updated with fresh information from day 2 of Qualcomm’s summit where the company unveiled the rest of the Snapdragon 855’s features. Changes were made to the original article to reflect them.


At a summit in Maui, Qualcomm took the wraps off its newest flagship mobile processor, the Snapdragon 855. While yes, it does offer the normal array of improvements over its predecessor, what makes this chipset special is its support for 5G connectivity which will hit airwaves next year.

With this new chipset, 2019 smartphones will be able to connect to 5G networks and offer what Qualcomm calls “multi-gigabit” download speeds. Carriers are already promising a rollout of 5G starting next year including AT&T and Verizon here in the states. Therefore, having a phone with the Snapdragon 855 inside will guarantee you support for the network once it reaches your area.

Of course, there’s a bunch of other stuff jammed into the 855. Qualcomm says the new processor supports up to 3x the AI performances as the 845 thanks to a new artificial intelligence engine. The new chip will also be better for photography thanks to a new dedicated computer vision processor which will recognize the scene in front of you and adjust its internal settings to output the best image possible. It also includes up to 45 percent better performance over the 845, 20 percent better graphics thanks tot he Adreno 640 GPU, and “cinematic color grading in true HDR” when it comes to gaming.

Qualcomm lists all of the details regarding the Snapdragon 855 in a press release. You can see the entire list below.

Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 855 Mobile Platform features include:

Qualcomm® Artificial Intelligence Engine

  • Qualcomm® Hexagon™ 690 Processor
  • Qualcomm® Adreno™ 640 GPU
  • Qualcomm® Kryo™ 485 CPU

Connectivity

  • Snapdragon X24 LTE modem LTE Category 20
  • Snapdragon X50 5G modem (for 5G devices)
  • Qualcomm Wi-Fi 6-ready mobile platform: 802.11ax-ready, 802.11ac Wave 2, 802.11a/b/g/n.
  • Qualcomm 60 GHz Wi-Fi mobile platform: 802.11ay, 802.11ad
  • Bluetooth Version: 5.0
  • Bluetooth Speed: 2 Mbps
  • High accuracy location with dual-frequency GNSS

Qualcomm Spectra™ 380 Image Signal Processor

  • Dual 14-bit CV-ISPs; 22MP @30 fps concurrent dual cameras; 48MP @ 30 fps single camera
  • Hardware CV functions including object detection & tracking (Histogram of Oriented Gradients, Harris Corner Detection, Normalized Cross Correlation, Linear classification and optical flow) and stereo depth processing
  • Advanced HDR solution including improved zzHDR and 3-exposure Quad Color Filter Array (QCFA) HDR
  • 4K60 HDR video capture (HDR10, HDR10+ and HLG) with Portrait Mode (bokeh), 10-bit color depth and Rec. 2020 color gamut
  • Hardware-based Multi-Frame Noise Reduction (MFNR) for snapshot and Motion Compensated Temporal noise Filtering (MCTF) for video
  • Hardware-based Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) solution within camera subsystem
  • A new modular ISP design with more flexibility to tap in and out of the imaging pipeline both in the RAW and YUV pixel domains
  • High frame rate capture for slow motion video (720p @ 480fps)
  • HEIF photo capture, HEVC (H.265) video capture

Audio

  • Qualcomm Aqstic™ audio technology
  • Qualcomm® aptX™ support, including classic aptX, aptX HD and aptX adaptive
  • Qualcomm TrueWireless™ Stereo Plus

Qualcomm® Adreno™ Visual Subsystem

  • Adreno 640 GPU
  • Vulkan 1.1 API support
  • HDR gaming (10-bit color depth, rec 2020 color gamut)
  • Physically Based Rendering
  • API Support: OpenGL ES 3.2, OpenCL 2.0 FP, Vulkan 1.1
  • Maximum On-Device Display Support: Up to 4K HDR
  • Maximum External Display Support: Up to two 4K HDR displays
  • Hardware-accelerated H.265 and VP9 decoder
  • HDR Playback Codec support for HDR10+, HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision
  • Volumetric VR video playback
  • 8K 360 VR video playback

Qualcomm® Kryo™ 485 CPU

  • One Prime core clock speed: Up to 2.84GHz
  • Three Performance cores clock speed: Up to 2.42GHz
  • Four Efficiency cores clock speed: Up to 1.80GHz
  • Architecture: 64-bit

Process

  • 7nm Process Technology

Qualcomm® Hexagon™ 690 Processor

  • Secure Processing capability
  • Quad threaded Scalar Core
  • Four Qualcomm® Hexagon™ Vector eXtensions (HVX)
  • Qualcomm® Hexagon™ Tensor Accelerator
  • Qualcomm® Hexagon™ Voice Assistant
  • Qualcomm All-Ways Aware™ technology

Security

  • Qualcomm® Biometric Authentication Suite: Fingerprint, Qualcomm® Iris Authentication, Voice, Face, Qualcomm® Secure Processing Unit enabling mobile payments
  • Qualcomm 3D Sonic Sensor

Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 4+ Technology

Memory

  • Memory Speed: 2133MHz
  • Memory Type: 4x16bit, LPDDR4x

Finally, it’s worth noting the Snapdragon 855 is built upon a 7nm manufacturing process which will translate to better battery life, gaming performance, and efficiency for new phones going forward. It’s also getting upgraded in terms of security thanks to support for Qualcomm’s 3D Sonic Sensor, an in-display fingerprint reader that captures a 3D map of your fingerprint for better accuracy. We’ll likely see the implementation of the sensor in 2019 Android phones so stay tuned.

Undoubtedly, there’s a humungous chance the 855 will be in all 2019 flagship smartphones besides the iPhone (we already know OnePlus is doing one). And thankfully, we’re only a few weeks away from seeing the initial batch of 855-touting handsets. We’ll let you know when they surface.

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