Qualcomm today announced the latest addition to its platform lineup, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 850. Although the natural assumption might be this is the successor to the likes of the Snapdragon 845, it's not. As while the Snapdragon 850 is designed with being mobile, it is not actually intended for mobile phones. This is due to the Snapdragon 850 being positioned as an always-on, always-connected PC solution. So while the likes of the Snapdragon 845 was previously used to power always-connected PCs, this now marks a much clearer separation in terms of mobile phone and mobile PC. In other words, while this is technically the next-generation SoC for PCs (compared to the 845 platform), the next smartphone-based SoC will not come marketed as the Snapdragon 850. The two lines have now officially diverged.
In spite of this effectively representing a sidestep move by Qualcomm to open up and establish a dedicated always-connected PC platform, it does offer a number of improvements compared to always-connected PCs currently powered by the 845. In fact, this is the point Qualcomm argues is the difference, as compared to the Snapdragon 845, the Snapdragon 850 has been fine-tuned to improve the experience offered to PC buyers, and in all respects. With some of the clear areas where the Snapdragon 850 will prove beneficial being the quality and speed of the connection (up to 1.2 Gbps), and what Qualcomm refers to as a “multi-day” level of battery life. Although as is probably to be expected the Snapdragon 850 does also come with a strong focus on artificial intelligence (AI), and entertainment-related benefits, thrown in for good measure. When directly compared to the likes of the Snapdragon 835 platform solution, the Snapdragon 850 is said to offer a 30-percent improvement in general performance, a 20-percent increase in battery life, as well as a 20-percent improvement in Gigabit LTE speeds.
The speed improvements have come by way of the inclusion of the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem which is designed to benefit from greater access to both licensed and Licensed Assisted Access (LAA). As an extension of this, Qualcomm also points out the X20 LTE not only results in an improvement in speed, but as importantly, an improvement in consistency - with the Snapdragon X20 LTE expected to offer up to five times better reliability performance (when compared to the Snapdragon X16) in situations where the signal is not as good to begin with. Padding out the Qualcomm-related benefits is the inclusion of support for Ultra HD playback and capture thanks to the Spectra 280, Aqstic and aptX support for audio, an Adreno 630 helping with the graphics, and Quick Charge 4+. Qualcomm states it expects the first devices utilizing the platform to arrive in the second half of this year with the very first Snapdragon 850-powered device coming from Samsung.