The Snapdragon 835 dominated flagship Android phones in 2017, appearing in the likes of the Google Pixel 2, the Samsung Galaxy S8+, the HTC U11, and others. Now Qualcomm has unveiled its successor, the Snapdragon 845 system-on-a-chip (SoC), ready to help your smartphone do even more in 2018.
All the usual year-on-year processor improvements are here, promising to offer better performance with less of a power draw on phone batteries. The Kyro 385 CPU and the Arendo 630 GPU are set to offer around a 10-20 percent boost in performance and a 30 percent boost in efficiency, Qualcomm says.
On top of these incremental speed upgrades we've grown used to every year, the SoC is also optimized for the way we're going to be using our phones in 2018 and beyond. That means specific parts of the chip dedicated to the kind of maths that artificial intelligence and augmented reality applications need.
In other words, you should see significant improvements in apps that combine real-world images with overlaid AR graphics, and in apps that deal in the kind of machine learning processing that AI relies on. Ultimately, more of these computations can be done on the phone, saving time offloading processing to the cloud.
Think about your camera being able to recognize what you're photographing in milliseconds rather than seconds, for instance – those are the kind of AI-intensive jobs that should run much faster on the Snapdragon 845.
Qualcomm has once more improved Wi-Fi, LTE, and battery charging speeds, so again you should see the benefits in all these areas next year. That also depends on how well manufacturers can integrate Qualcomm's tech as well, of course.
Thanks to the extra GPU smarts on the chip, phones with it installed should have enough oomph to record 4K, HDR video at 60 frames-per-second, a new high watermark. Visuals should be better too, with an increased color gamut leading to richer-looking graphics, increased luminance, and more detail in photos and videos on screen.
On top of all that there's a new Secure Processing Unit (SPU) on board the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, a sealed-off area of your phone dedicated to storing biometric information like your fingerprints, making it harder for this data to be compromised.
In partnership with Microsoft, Qualcomm has announced another major tech innovation this week too: The first Windows 10 devices to run on mobile chips, starting with last year's Snapdragon 835. The thinking is that these mobile SoCs are now just about powerful enough to run full desktop software, with big savings in power efficiency and battery life along the way.
HP and Asus have already revealed laptops running on the Snapdragon 835, with Snapdragon 845 computers following next year. You're going to be able to get close to a full 24 hours of use out of these machines – just don't expect to do any hardcore gaming or video editing on them.
As for the phones, expect to hear a lot about the Snapdragon 845 during the next 12 months. It's due to appear in the second quarter of 2018, which probably means the first phone rocking it will be the successor to the Samsung Galaxy S8.
Product page: Qualcomm
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