Snapdragon 855: Qualcomm unveils the chip that's going to power your 5G smartphone

Qualcomm

Qualcomm, the biggest mobile software company in the industry, has revealed its new Snapdragon 855 chip which will power all future Android smartphones and the next generation 5G devices.

At the company’s annual Snapdragon Summit in Maui, Hawaii, it unveiled the new mobile platform to follow up last year’s Snapdragon 845 chip which is in phones such as OnePlus 6T and the Google Pixel 3.

The chip, the first of its kind, will enable Android devices to connect to the 5G mobile network as soon as next year, provided smartphone manufacturers take advantage of the chip. The roll out of 5G devices is expected to be slow so it's likely they'll only a few smartphones with 5G connectivity at first.

When it hits though this next generation in mobile technology will spell the end of Wi-Fi, improve the capabilities of innovations like driverless cars and drones, and will mean you are never offline again. Qualcomm says the new Snapdragon 855 chip will be able to support “multi-gigabit” download speeds on 5G networks too.

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During the keynote address, Qualcomm’s president Cristiano Amon, said: “Today marks a massive an exciting step forward underscoring how Qualcomm Technologies and ecosystem leaders are driving 5G commercialisation, a journey that went from R&D, accelerated standardisation and trials, the launch of innovative products and technologies to the imminent launch of 5G networks and smartphones across the globe starting in early 2019.

“Together we are demonstrating our role in transforming the mobile industry and enriching consumer experiences with 5G mobile devices.”

When it comes to the first 5G phone, OnePlus has that covered. The Chinese smartphone company revealed at Qualcomm's event that it will be releasing the first commercial 5G phone in Europe, on the EE network, powered by the Snapdragon 855 processor.

EE will be switching on 5G sites in 16 cities in 2019, with the first four cities being London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast. If you want to be the first on the 5G network, look out for OnePlus's new smartphone in 2019.

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Aside from its 5G capabilities, the powers of the new 7nm processor mean the next generation of Android devices should have better battery life and improved performance. The chip also features a new multi-core AI engine that Qualcomm says will offer up to three times better AI performance compared to the 845 processor.

This should hopefully improve computational photography, so phone makers will be able to follow in the steps of Google and offer improved camera software.

Qualcomm is going all in on augmented reality (AR) or extended reality as it officially refers to it. The dedicated vision processor in the Snapdragon 855 chip means it can now process depth mapping at 60 frames per second, which will improve AR applications.

Forget the folding smartphone, this is the future of smartphones we’re looking forward to.

More about: | smartphones | Qualcomm | 5G | OnePlus