The Snapdragon 888 is ready to power 2021 Android flagships
The top-tier Snapdragon processors are usually the chipsets of choice for flagship Android phones, and Qualcomm just unveiled the mobile system-on-a-chip (SoC) that's going to appear in plenty of 2021 handsets: the Snapdragon 888.
While these SoCs are often still referred to as processors or mobile CPUs (Central Processing Units), they actually include plenty of other circuitry besides the main processor, hence the SoC name. The brand new Snapdragon 888 follows on from this year's Snapdragon 865 and Snapdragon 865 Plus chipsets, and brings with it a host of improvements that reflect the changing smartphone market.
Qualcomm's latest X60 5G modem is on board, for instance, and while this year's chips support 5G as well, the new chipset will work faster, and more reliably, across 5G networks. It's the same with on-board artificial intelligence – not a new feature for the Snapdragon series, but the 888 model will be able to perform more AI-based calculations in a shorter period of time.
Computational photography – image processing done after the photo is captured – is now standard on all the flagship phones, and the Snapdragon 888 is going to help by capturing more raw material at once. The chipset is able to capture 2.7 gigapixels per second, the equivalent of 120 photos at 12MP resolution, which is a jump of 35 percent over the previous Snapdragon SoCs.
The built-in Adreno graphics are getting an upgrade as well, as you would expect, with frame rates of up to 144 frames per second now possible (you'll need a 144-Hz screen to match). It's the biggest jump in GPU performance ever seen in the Snapdragon series, Qualcomm says, though it hasn't gone into any specifics.
We're also still waiting for specifics on exactly how much faster overall the new Snapdragon 888 is going to be: expect it to do more calculations, in a shorter period of time, with less power, compared with the Snapdragon 865 series. Qualcomm is currently hosting a virtual two-day tech summit, so expect more details tomorrow.
Phone makers including Asus, LG, Motorola, Realme, OnePlus, Oppo and Xiaomi have already committed to making handsets with the Snapdragon 888 on board, though as yet we don't have many details. Expect the SoC to be mentioned a lot as Android flagship phones get launched throughout 2021.
With the Apple iPhones getting faster and faster each year – the Apple-made A14 Bionic is powering the iPhone 12 models – Qualcomm will want to keep pace with its own silicon, but we'll have to wait and see how the new Snapdragon 888 translates into performance in next year's Android smartphones.