Over the years Qualcomm has turned from one of the many players in the mobile chipset industry to the leading one, with every chipset setting the bar higher and being used in more and more phones. While Qualcomm is finally getting some real competition from the likes of MediaTek and Nvidia, they still reign supreme in the mobile world, and as a result we always look forward to what they are coming out with as that chipset is likely what’s going to power your next phone or tablet. The Snapdragon 805 is today’s highlight, and it’s Qualcomm’s latest upcoming processor that’s going to be debuting in just a few months with the fall refresh of phones. Right now phones are shipping with the Snapdragon 801, which for all intents and purposes is just a Snapdragon 800 with a higher clock speed and a few more features. Everything else is basically the same, but the Snapdragon 805 is beginning to change all of that. The CPU cores themselves are being upgraded from the Krait 400 cores in the Snapdragon 800/801 to Krait 450, a tweak on the 400 architecture and once again clocked a little higher than the Snapdragon 801 is. The big story here isn’t the CPU tweak though, it’s the brand new Adreno 420 GPU. For reference the Snapdragon 800/801 feature an Adreno 300 series GPU, so the one found in the Snapdragon 805 is a brand new architecture and everything.
While moving to new architectures in chipset manufacturing doesn’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with performance improvements, the Adreno 420 spits in the face of that idea. In fact on average the Adreno 420 is 40% faster than an Adreno 3xx and uses around 20% less power at the same time. Not only that but the Adreno 420 has full Direct X 11.2 3D specs, pushing features that were once exclusive to PC’s and next-gen consoles like geometry shading, hardware tessellation and direct compute. The Snapdragon 805 is also Qualcomm’s last big 32-bit chipset, making this the hallmark of their 32-bit series and ending an era that brought about some amazing performance improvements and innovation. Why the continual push for higher clock speeds and more features? Besides the obvious resolution battle, matching these mobile devices feature-for-feature with consoles and PCs ensures that gaming, among other applications, will continue to be cross-platform as the years go on. Even if the power level isn’t the same, having the same rendering features makes it easier for developers to port applications and games and just turn down assets and details as needed to achieve a certain performance base mark.
The other exciting aspect about the Snapdragon 805 is the continued photo and video taking improvements and capabilities. While the Snapdragon 800 debuted 4K video recording on mobile devices, the Snapdragon 805 takes that type of technology and makes it better. The Snapdragon 805 brings about support for up to 55 megapixel camera censors and of course 4K video as we’ve had since the Snapdragon 800. The ante is upped with burst photos though, as the Snapdragon 805 can shoot 16 megapixel photos at 15 frames per second, meaning pressing that button will result in a near instant 15 photos at a full 16 megapixel resolution. A new gyro-based image stabilization is also included and claims to nearly end the “jelly artifacting” found when moving your mobile device very quickly while taking photos or videos. All in all the Snapdragon 805 is a significant improvement from even what we have today, and that speaks volumes about the future of mobile technology.