Today in Maui, at the third annual Snapdragon Technology Summit, Qualcomm dived deeper into their new Snapdragon 855 mobile platform. At the conference, OnePlus announced that their next flagship phone, to be released in 2019 on the EE network, will be the first phone to be released that is powered by the 855. This does not come as much of surprise, given the long-standing relationship between the two companies. In any case, the new 855 mobile platform isn’t just faster, but it brings with it a wealth of new technologies that are going to have a big impact on the phones that will be released in 2019 and beyond.
On the connectivity front, the 855 is going to usher in with it a decade of 5G Multi-Gigabit connectivity with ultra-low latency. The 855 comes with the first LTE modem to support up to 2 Gbps speeds. That translates to real-world use case scenarios where you can download a movie in just a few seconds. The 855 is also the first mobile platform to support Wi-Fi 6 (802.11s), which could eventually become the dominant Wi-Fi standard.
“As operators launch 5G networks in early 2019, consumers will for the first time be able to take advantage of transformative 5G consumer experiences on mobile devices with Snapdragon 855,” said Alex Katouzian, senior vice president and general manager, mobile, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “We are proud to share our technology inventions and be among the first to bring mobile 5G to the world.”
The Kryo 485 CPU inside of the 855 offers a 45% performance improvement over the already very speedy Snapdragon 845, while the new Adreno 640 GPU provides up to 20% faster graphics over its predecessor.
There has been so much focus on artificial intelligence in phones in 2018, yet Qualcomm doesn’t get much credit for the fact that they have been developing AI in their chipsets for quite some time now. To that effect, this is actually Qualcomm’s 4th generation AI engine. When it comes to AI, the Hexagon 690 inside of the 855 has been rebuilt, so that the AI experience will be even better and more advanced. Qualcomm has even managed to double the number of Vector Xccelerators in the 690. The resulting effect is 3x the AI performance compared to the Snapdragon 845.
Neat new features
The 3D sonic Sensor is a more secure solution than anything else on the market because it can capture a full sonic image of your fingerprint and pores. And even if your finger is wet or oily, it will still be able to read it correctly. #snapdragonsummit @Qualcomm pic.twitter.com/vlhArU12Lm
— Helena Stone (@HelenaStone) December 4, 2018
The Snapdragon 855 also brings with it several neat new tricks. For example, do you think that the in-screen fingerprint reader inside of the OnePlus 6T is exciting? Qualcomm’s 3D new Sonic Sensor takes things to a whole other level. It’s the first ultrasonic solution under a display. It uses acoustics to simulate the waves of your fingerprints. So even if your display is filthy, your phone will be able to recognize your fingerprint.
Better photography with new tricks
The 855 brings significant advances to cameras thanks to its Spectra 380 ISP. With the Snapdragon 855, the CPU, GPU and DSP are all being merged, making it the world’s first computer-vision ISP. The resulting benefits include 4x the power savings along with an extreme speed boost. This helps with photography and speeds up XR. It also allows for depth sensing at 60FPS, as well as support for 4K HDR video recording at 60fps, and video recording using HDR10+ with more than 1 billion shades of color being captured!
But one of the neatest new tricks with the 855 is its realtime object segmentation. Realtime object segmentation allows the camera to identify objects, the people, and the background in a shot. That means that you’ll be able to replace the background in realtime with a different background. So for example, you can turn a sunny day into a cloudy day. Not too long ago, this kind of technology could only be accomplished by skilled post-production professionals that were using very expensive software and hardware. Now, it’s about to come to your phone where it will be super simple to use and fast to implement.
Qualcomm is also embracing support for HEIF, a new file format for images that they believe is destined to replace JPEG. JPEG is limited because it can’t contain lots of things like computer vision and HDR. On the other hand, HEIF can do all of those things and even store an image’s depth map. That means you can always blur a photo’s background – even after you’ve taken the photo. You can also embed multiple photos inside a single HEIF container. In addition, video can be store inside an HEIF container, as well as separate images taken by each of a phone’s telecom, wide angle and regular lenses. With more and more phones expanding their lens numbers, this is going prove to be super useful. To top it all off, HEIF reduces file sizes by 50%.
Improved power consumption
On the power consumption front, the power consumption for 4K video is 30% lower than with the Snapdragon 845.
Improved movie playback and VR
Thanks to the Cinema Core inside of the 855, VR video is going to be sharper and smoother than ever with support for 8K 360 video. The 855 also supports HDR10+ video playback, Dolby vision, and super smooth 120fps video.
Life-like mobile gaming
When it comes to gaming, the 855 introduces the new Snapdragon Elite Gaming experience. The 855 relies on the new Adreno 640 which offers offer 30% better performance than its predecessor and it’s the first mobile platform to offer gaming in HDR, with over 1 billion shades of colors. The 855 also supports Physically based rendering. What this all means is that you’re going to be able to experience Hollywood-like realism in mobile games.
Qualcomm is live-streaming the keynotes at the third annual Snapdragon Technology Summit, and they can all be accessed here: https://www.qualcomm.com/snapdragonsummit