Qualcomm's current flagship System-on-Chip, the Snapdragon 820, has arrived and is being used across a number of flagship smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S7, LG G5 and HTC 10. As the Snapdragon 820 is settling into place we are seeing rumours and reports of Qualcomm's next generation Snapdragon 800-series of chipsets. The first of these is the Snapdragon 823, which appears to be a lightly polished variant of the Snapdragon 820. We have also seen the Snapdragon 828 and 830 chipsets, believed to being prepared for 2017's flagship devices.
The Snapdragon 823 is the easiest chip to discuss as it has appears to benefit from a mild specification boost over and above the Snapdragon 820. It is believed to have originally been called the Snapdragon 821 but Qualcomm renamed the chip. It continues to use the Samsung 14nm LPP manufacturing process and two dual core clusters of Qualcomm's custom application core design, the Kryo 100 application processor, the same generation as the Snapdragon 820. However, at least one of these clusters is expected to be clocked at a higher frequency than the current Snapdragon 820 although we have also seen rumors that Qualcomm are to introduce an octa-core System-on-Chip using the Kryo architecture. The Snapdragon 823 is expected to use Cat 12 / 13 LTE support with a maximum download speed of 600 Mbps and offers QuickCharge 3.0. It's expected to be released in the second quarter 2016.
The Snapdragon 828 and Snapdragon 830 are quite different chips as compared with the Snapdragon 820 and 823. Qualcomm are moving to the second generation Kryo application core, the 200 series, for both of these chips – and it will be manufactured on a 10nm process, which should reduce power consumption and heat output still further. It is unclear of the clock speeds and number of cores, so we may also be seeing an increase from the two dual core cluster arrangement of the Snapdragon 820 and 823. The GPU is being changed for both models: the Snapdragon 828 will receive the Adreno 519 GPU, which is a lower number than the Snapdragon 820 and 823. This is still a capable GPU but is being positioned as more a mid-range unit. The Snapdragon 830 will use the Adreno 540. The Snapdragon 828 features Category 12 / 13 LTE support and the X12 LTE baseband, whereas the Snapdragon 830 will use the X16 modem and has a theoritical maximum download speed of 980 Mbps. The Snapdragon 828 and 830 are expected to be officially announced in the fourth quarter and so far, appear to be set up in a similar fashion to the Snapdragon 808 and 810 high end chipsets as we saw last year: both are high end chipsets, but one is noticeably more powerful than the other.
At this juncture, it is impossible to quantify the likely improvements we may see from Qualcomm's next generation chipsets. If the Snapdragon 823 is essentially a 820 at a higher clock speeds, or with more processor cores, we may see higher benchmark scores from devices powered by this hardware but little difference in the real world. For the Snapdragon 828 and 830, we may see a meaningful difference in these devices because they use second generation Kryo architecture. We should know more later in the year.