Updating the graphics drivers on your smartphone isn't something you think about, because it isn't something you have much of any control over. That's because, for now, those driver updates generally only come alongside larger OS updates that your phone receives once a year (if you're lucky). With the Snapdragon 865, that's about to change, likely thanks to the changes Google has made to Android with Project Mainline, announced at Google I/O earlier this year. Read More
Last year, Qualcomm launched the Snapdragon 700-series SoCs to address a developing market segment that some have called "Premium B" to cope with the ongoing phenomenon of flagship cost runaway. The company later appended an offshoot skew in the 730G for the burgeoning gaming phone sector which presses value and performance to extremes. Today, in the same effective breath it announced the Snapdragon 865 with, the chipmaker has also spoken of the Snapdragon 765 and the 765G, and yes, they're the first in their series to get 5G support. Read More
One of my consistent complaints with most smartphone cameras is performance. While I'd personally single out Google's Pixels as among the worst, I think it's fair to say that most phones experience significant speed degradation in the camera as they age. I'm not going to claim I understand why this happens—a multitude of factors could be at play—but I do think on some level you have to look at hardware. And with Qualcomm's new Spectra 480 ISP in the Snapdragon 865, it sure looks like we're about to take a generational leap when it comes to imaging performance.
For background, the ISP (Image Signal Processor) is the "brain" of your smartphone's camera. Read More
I don't want to bury the lede on this one, so, here goes: I really do believe, genuinely, the Snapdragon 865 is the most important smartphone chip in a good, long while. No, it doesn't have an insane new CPU or GPU design, and no, it doesn't have an "integrated" 5G radio (more on that later). But if you're looking for the "5G is here" moment—a moment Qualcomm has been building up to for years—this is it.
There is no version of the Snapdragon 865 available without 5G. 5G is mandatory. You can't buy the chip without a 5G modem, it's in there, period. Read More
Qualcomm announced its new "3D Sonic Max" fingerprint scanner at the company's annual tech summit this morning, and the biggest improvement is, well, that it's big. The new version of the ultrasonic sensor is allegedly a full 17 times larger than the previous generation, measuring 30.6x19.2mm. In standard measurement, that's around .91 square inches, about equal to the surface area of the coin face of two pennies.
That's much, much larger than most existing fingerprint scanners in smartphones, ultrasonic or optical, and should theoretically result in far fewer bad reads, as the area in which you can place a recognized portion of your finger is greatly expanded (think of it as shooting an arrow at a bullseye the size of the whole target). Read More
The big problem with 5G — or one of the big problems — is that it's suffering the same issues LTE had when it first landed: It only works in a few markets, and most phones don't support it. Worse, the few devices that do support it use external modems which aren't built into the chipset, and like the early LTE phones, that means issues like decreased battery life. Thankfully, new chipsets with 5G support built-in are on the way, with Qualcomm announcing its own earlier this year. Today at IFA, Qualcomm has further revealed that the promised chip will be landing in products as early as the beginning of next year, with more 6-, 7-, and 8-series chipsets getting built-in 5G support next year, too. Read More
Apple develops its own processors for its mobile devices, but it relies on modems from Intel and Qualcomm for network connectivity. While Apple fought with Qualcomm over patents and royalties, Intel became the company's top choice for modems. After the dispute was settled, Intel gave up trying to make a 5G modem, and now Apple is buying its entire modem division. Read More
The European Commission has just issued a fine of €242 million to Qualcomm for allegedly anti-competitive actions made by the company circa 2009-2011. The commission claims that Qualcomm abused its market position by using predatory pricing to push out competitors, selling some of its chipsets at a loss to Huawei and ZTE. Read More
A common complaint about the new trend of gaming phones is that they use the same system-on-a-chip (and largely the same other internals) as non-gaming phones, so they usually don't have much of a performance boost over other devices. That could finally change, as Qualcomm announced today that its developing an overclocked Snapdragon 855 — the aptly-named Snapdragon 855 Plus. Read More
According to a report by WinFuture, Qualcomm is planning another new chipset for Wear OS devices, even though the existing Wear 3100 has barely materialized in any devices. The upcoming silicon will feature 64-bit support, 12nm node, Cortex A53 CPU cores, and is alleged to go by one of two potential names: "Snapdragon Wear 429" or "Snapdragon Wear 2700". In short, it sounds like it might actually bring some decent performance to the platform. Read More