Earlier this year, the first octa-core processor from Qualcomm finally made it into smartphones. This was the same manufacturer that said octa-core processors are "dumb" back in 2013. With the Snapdragon 810, Qualcomm used ARM's design instead of their own. Building on the success of their processors in the past, many of us felt that Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 was going to be a beast. Even going back to the Snapdragon S series, with the Snapdragon S4, S4 Pro, and earlier, Qualcomm has led the race in mobile processors. The Snapdragon 800 series processors have been pretty amazing as well. Especially the Snapdragon 805.
On paper, the Snapdragon 810 looked amazing. Here we have a 8-core 64-bit processor that can do 3D games as well as record in 4K. It's also a quad-core Cortex-A57 and a quad-core Cortex-A53 set of processors. Which stacks up to the competition quite well. It made us excited about the upcoming LG G Flex 2 and HTC One M9. After the LG G Flex 2 was announced – not yet available – we started seeing reports of the Snapdragon 810 overheating. And we also heard that Samsung was not going to use the Snapdragon 810 in the Galaxy S6 this year. Obviously that's a huge blow to Qualcomm given how many devices Samsung sells.
So here we have the LG G Flex 2 and the HTC One M9. Both are overheating, and thus are throttling quite quickly. The LG G Flex 2 throttles a lot faster than the HTC One M9 actually. At Mobile World Congress, Qualcomm teased the Snapdragon 820, which is their next generation octa-core processor. Which is now heading to manufacturers for sampling. And is likely to be in flagships in early 2016, if not late 2015.
On Friday, word came out that the Snapdragon 820 would be clocked at 3.0GHz. And naturally trolls started commenting on whether we'd ever see it get near that. As most Snapdragon 810 smartphones don't even get to 2GHz, when it's max is supposedly 2.5GHz. So the Snapdragon 820 is a hugely important release for Qualcomm, after all the bad press and bad experiences the Snapdragon 810 have caused.
We're excited for the Snapdragon 820, as it's going to have some of Qualcomm's magic in it, instead of just being an ARM reference design. And at this rate, it's going to be make or break for Qualcomm. They can't release three high-end processors in a row that are overheating and having other issues and expect to be on top. The Snapdragon 808 gets a bit warm as well, and is considerably slower than the Snapdragon 810. If the Snapdragon 820 isn't as good as the 801 and 805 were last year, I have a feeling that Samsung and MediaTek might grab a slightly larger market share next year. That's not bad for consumers, but it is for Qualcomm. Who has been king of mobile processors for a very long time.