Qualcomm introduced its new flagship mobile processor today, and following the main announcement, we’re here to take a closer look at its specifications. The Snapdragon 855 is a direct successor to the Snapdragon 845, and thus a processor that a ton of smartphone OEMs will use in their flagship smartphones in the coming year. That being said, the Snapdragon 855 is a 7nm processor, compared to a 10nm Snapdragon 845. Qualcomm actually refers to the Snapdragon 855 as the “Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform”, as the company sees this processor as a platform for connectivity, performance, AI, camera, and entertainment. On the Snapdragon 855, you will find the Adreno 640 GPU for graphics processing, and the Snapdragon X24 modem for mobile connectivity. Qualcomm has included the Spectra 380 IPS on the Snapdragon 855, as that ISP is expected to “deliver premium camera and XR experience” says Qualcomm, with some help from the Adreno 650, Hexagon 690, and Kryo 485.
The Hexagon 690 brings improved voice support, sports double the vector accelerators, has a new Tensor accelerator, and it now supports neural networks. This is a Kryo 485 SoC, and the company says that it sports the very first 5G NR (mmWave & sub-6) chip, same goes for Wi-Fi6 (11ax-ready) and 4G LTE (2 Gbps LTE, cat.20) connectivity options. The Snapdragon 855 will also support Qualcomm’s upcoming 3D Sonic Sensor, which is essentially an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner which is placed under the display, and it should work much better than the regular optical in-display fingerprint scanner. The Snapdragon 855 supports HEIF (capture and playback), and is the first Snapdragon processor to offer such support. HEIF offering identical image quality as JPEG, but is half the size. The Snapdragon 855 supports H.265 and VP9 at a hardware level, while the chip is considerably more power efficient (7x). This chip supports HDR10+, and is the world’s first mobile platform to support it, while it can playback 8K 360 videos.
Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 4+ technology is supported by the Snapdragon 855 mobile platform, while this processor supports LPDDR4X memory 4x16bit, in case you were wondering. Maximum clock speed of the Snapdragon 855 is 2.84GHz, while the chip comes with Vulkan 1.1 API support. As far as API support is concerned, you’re getting support for OpenGL ES 3.2, OpenCL 2.0 FP, in addition to Vulkan 1.1 support, of course. The Snapdragon 855 has support for HDR10+, HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision, while it can output content on up to two 4K HDR displays.
Background: Right up until the launch, we did not know what this processor will be called, it was either the Snapdragon 8150 or Snapdragon 855, while the former seemed like a more likely choice for a while. Well, Qualcomm went the logical route this time around, and named the processor the Snapdragon 855, which is a logical follow-up to the Snapdragon 835 and Snapdragon 845. The Snapdragon 845 landed basically a year ago, so the company is right on time when it comes to launching the Snapdragon 855, and OEMs will probably gain access to the chip in the first quarter of next year, as Samsung’s Galaxy S10 flagships will probably be amongst the first to use this processor.
Impact: On paper, the Snapdragon 855 is considerably more powerful than the Snapdragon 845, while it also brings a lot more to the table. It is an improvement in basically every way, ranging from camera and connectivity support, all the way to power saving and sheer performance power. It remains to be seen what will this processor perform in real life, of course, but if the Snapdragon 835 and 845 are any indication, the Snapdragon 855 will be a true powerhouse in real-life as well.