Qualcomm lifted the lid on its next-generation premium smartphone processor platform this week in Maui, Hawaii the Snapdragon 855 .

The chip will undoubtedly end up powering a number of 2019’s highest profile smartphone releases, improving processing power, multimedia, and streaming data speeds, plus much more. The company already confirmed this is its first 7nm chip, matching Huawei’s Kirin 980 , but there are a host of other improvements.

Top of the bill is a major uplift to Qualcomm’s AI and machine learning processing capabilities, an area other companies have been pushing performance in as well. There’s also a new CPU setup, faster Adreno graphics unit, and much faster connectivity options as the industry ramps up its move towards 5G networks.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 specs

At its heart, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 is a 7nm octa-core processor. The Arm DynamIQ CPU cluster design is a little different this time around, with four small Cortex-A55 cores paired up with three big cores, based on Arm’s Cortex-A76 design, and an even bigger “prime” Cortex-A76 core which targets even higher peak performance.

13 Best Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Phones To Buy 

  1. Oneplus 7
  2. Samsung Galaxy 10/S10+/S10e
  3. amsung Galaxy Fold
  4. LG G8 ThinQ
  5. LG V50 ThinQ
  6. Lenovo Z5 Pro GT
  7. Xiaomi Mi 9
  8. Xiaomi Black Shark 2
  9. Vivo Apex 2019
  10. Vivo iQOO
  11. Oppo Reno 10x Hybrid Optical Zoom
  12. Sony Xperia X1
  13. Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G

Snapdragon 855: Here’s All the Top Features

  1. 5G connectivity
  2. Embedded fingerprint sensor
  3. Better performance
  4. More power efficient
  5. Better gaming experience
  6. A smarter camera
  7. AI improvements

5G Technology

At the heart of what the Snapdragon 855 brings to the table is 5G connectivity. Qualcomm spent the majority of the opening two-hour Tech Summit keynote waxing lyrical about the trials and tribulations of building a 5G infrastructure and creating a mobile chip to benefit from such a foundation, as well as the technologies that will help the 855 stand out from the crowd.

While 5G has larger implications for enterprise and industrial applications, the main benefit for consumers is the sheer speed boost they’ll experience. Once carriers properly implement 5G networks, users will start out with gigabit-class cellular browsing speeds, and they’re only expected to increase as the technology matures.

Expect high-resolution video streaming without buffering, near instantaneous downloads of conventional files and lag-free multiplayer gaming on-the-go to be among the key benefits of the technology.

3D Sonic Sensor

It’s worth noting that despite pairing both the 855 and 5G together in most of what was said on stage at its unveiling, the chip doesn’t actually support 5G natively. The integrated X24 modem supports multi-gigabit Wi-Fi and 4G LTE (up to a theoretical 2Gbps) but it’s only when used in conjunction with the likes of the company’s X50 modem or the newly announced X55 modem, that devices will be able to utilise 5G data speeds.

Qualcomm also unveiled what it’s calling the ‘3D Sonic Sensor’ – a consumer-ready ultrasonic fingerprint sensor that can read depth data on top of the 2D image of your print. Confidently called “the most secure selection on the mobile market today”, the 3D Sonic Sensor will also be able to read the ridges and pores of your print, even if it’s covered in oil grime or water.

Hardware Performance

The 855 is one of only a handful of chips built on an incredibly small and efficient 7nm process. As with its key rivals, the smaller die size means less resistance and therefore greater power efficiency, resulting in longer battery life and better overall performance.

The Kryo 485 CPU introduces the idea of a ‘prime core’ with a single 2.84GHz Prime Core, backed up by three additional 2.42GHz Performance Cores (all four of which use an A76 framework as a baseline, with Qualcomm customisations on top). There are then four additional 1.8GHz Efficiency Cores, which handle less demanding processes.With all this engineering, Qualcomm’s Travis Lanier proclaimed on stage that the 855 offers the “largest performance jump ever, in a Snapdragon”.

Faster and smarter

One of the biggest features for next year’s phone is the ability to use 5G. The next generation of cellular technology, 4G LTE’s successor, is expected to significantly boost the speed, coverage and responsiveness of wireless networks.

It can go 10 to 100 times faster than your typical cellular connection today, and even quicker than anything you can get with a physical fiber-optic cable going into your house. It’ll take seconds to download a full TV season, and doctors will be able to perform remote surgeries in real time.


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