According to a new leak, spotted on China's Weibo, Qualcomm will launch a plus variant of the Snapdragon 865 SoC in the third quarter of 2020. That's based on a post shared by Digital Chat Station on the social media site. The rumor also says that prototypes will be available pre-production as early as within the next couple of months.
If the rumor is accurate, that puts the early testing of prototypes in a timeframe around April.
The purported leak has not been given any kind of verification or a source. However, the timeline does align well with previous Snapdragon launch periods. Namely, that's the launch of the Snapdragon 855 Plus variant in July of last year.
What's the difference between Snapdragon 865 and the "Plus" version?
No details have been shared regarding the exact expectations for the Qualcomm-built Snapdragon 865 Plus. However, it is likely that's because that information isn't quite finalized yet. And it may not be until much closer to its launch. Looking back at previous Snapdragon chipset iterations, though, it may be possible to get some idea of what improvements will be a part of the package.
Qualcomm launched the mid-year update to the Snapdragon 855 back in July, as noted above. The SoC delivered some significant but not overwhelming improvements. For starters, it garnered a 20-percent decrease in power consumption thanks to the inclusion of Vulkan 1.1 Graphics Drivers. That's as compared to the power used for Open GL ES.
The battery drain reduction came with a 15-percent boost in performance over the standard Snapdragon 855 too. That's thanks to Qualcomm building the chip with Qualcomm Kyro 485 CPU Prime and a boosted core clock speed up to 2.96GHz. An Adreno 640 GPU was coupled with the primary processing chip.
The performance boost and improved battery life weren't the only perks though. Snapdragon 855 Plus was a chip built for gaming. It also packed a more dedicated focus for AI applications and algorithms.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865 is already a significant improvement over the Snapdragon 855 and 855 Plus. It's AI engine was designed to be around twice as powerful. And it was intended to deliver more force for AR and VR applications. But it also wouldn't be surprising to see a similar boost in performance to the previous half-step seen with the Snapdragon 855 Plus. That would likely come with additional improvements to power consumption.
Really, this could be all about 5G
The most likely secondary enhancement to the Snapdragon 865 Plus, not necessarily based on the leak, could arrive on the networking side of things. More specifically, this could be Qualcomm's first chipset to fully incorporate 5G. Smartphones featuring next-generation connectivity are quickly becoming more prominent, particularly with flagships.
Most recently, that's been seen in the Samsung Galaxy S20 series. But more affordable smartphones are widely expected to begin receiving 5G networking in the near future too.
While the Snapdragon 865 already supports 5G and is billed with the capability, that's still reliant on a separate 5G modem chip. That's the Snapdragon X55. So the current speculation is that the Snapdragon 865 Plus variant might pack in an integrated 5G chip instead.