Qualcomm debuted its Snapdragon 820 processor on November 10th via a Twitter chat that included a live Q&A. Up until recently Qualcomm had only released a handful of details about the latest generation mobile CPU, which kept interest high and the rumor mill running at full speed. Some theorized it would be the best quad core processor to hit the market while others offered up more cautious hypotheses. But now the wait is over and while Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 was a great processor, the company’s latest flagship chipset boasts new and improved features that are already turning heads.
Chip Off The Ole’ Block
For starters, the 820 is purportedly 30% more efficient than the 810, resulting in longer battery life. It also runs faster and cooler thanks to 14-nanometer finFET processing technology. Unlike most of the advanced mobile devices on the market today, Snapdragon 820 runs on X12 LTE for download speeds of up to 600 Mbps and uplink speeds of up to 150 Mbps. The 820 is also the first commercial processor to utilize LTE-U for mega boosted connection speeds and better broadband access in overcrowded areas.
And there’s more. This processor features the Qualcomm Adreno 530 GPU, which was designed specifically to offer photorealistic graphics and a 40% improvement over the performance of the 430. It also has the Kryo CPU, the first custom-designed 64-bit quad-core CPU with the Symphony System Manager staying on top of task scheduling and power management. And speaking of power management, the 820 sports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 – making it the most energy efficient and fast charge to date.
Improvements Across The Board
Mastering low light mobile photography with Snapdragon
On top of all that there’s the integrated Spectra camera Image Signal Processor – innovative camera support that enables image capture of up to 28 megapixels, hybrid autofocus and multi-sensor fusion algorithms for (when paired with Hexagon 680 with HVX) amazing clarity and color.
You may be thinking, Okay, I get it, another home run by Qualcomm, and that’s true. But a features list can’t adequately convey the impact this processor is going to have on the mobile industry. Improvements to power and battery efficiency are one thing but improvements to the user experience are another, and that’s where their CPU excels.
Some have suggested that Qualcomm did everything they could to beef up graphics in the 820 specifically to be a pioneer in the VR revolution. But even if VR headsets and games don’t quickly become just another gadget around the house, this is a processor that has the power to change how we see and interact with the world through our devices.
Is This Real Life?
The renders released by the company look stunningly lifelike with naturally shifting light and shadows that put the reality in VR. And Qualcomm has said users will be able to capture images that directly mirror what the human eye sees without any distortion. Game developers and the gamers they cater to along with pro and hobby photographers are likely watching the news surrounding Qualcomm’s latest flagship release with not just interest, but actual hunger.
As for when that hunger will be satisfied, the Snapdragon 820 is expected to appear in high-profile Android and Windows Phone devices in the first half of 2016. Rumors suggest that the Samsung Galaxy S7 will be one of the first to boast the 820, along with the much-anticipated Xiaomi Mi 5 but until those devices launch it’s all speculation. The only thing we know for sure is that this chip is going to be a game-changer because chances are good it will be the gold standard that drives graphics and efficiency innovations from here on out.