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Qualcomm outlines improvements in the Snapdragon 821

Qualcomm reveals more details about the upcoming Snapdragon 821 chipset. It brings performance, efficiency, and mobile VR enhancements.

Published onAugust 31, 2016

A little while ago, Qualcomm revealed that its current chipset top-dog will soon get a minor refresh, becoming the Snapdragon 821. Details were sparse at the time; we were only told to expect a 10% improvement from the Snapdragon 820 that is packed in many esteemed Android flagships today. This would be achieved predictably by giving the CPU and GPU clock speeds a bump. But if you’ve been wondering what else the Snapdragon 821 brings to the table, Qualcomm has just dropped a few more key details.

Keeping in mind that the main aim of the Snapdragon 821 is to optimize the 820’s performance, we are said to be getting a more responsive user experience. Boot times and app launching will be up to 10% faster, and UI navigation should be even smoother. The enhancements also stretch to camera performance, or rather, auto-focus speed. The 821 will support dual phase detection to boost auto-focus speed (single PDAF is the common method), and extended laser auto-focus range to improve accuracy on phones equipped with that technology.

Efficiency was also a focus on the 821 and it’s said to deliver a modest 5% power savings. That’s not that much, but we’ll take what improvements to battery life we can get, right?

Fans looking forward to Google Daydream will be happy to know that the new chipset includes support, through a Snapdragon VR SDK. The toolset gives VR developers access to 821’s architecture, promises high visual and audio quality for mobile VR, and is compatible with the Daydream platform.

Daydream VR will debut "in coming weeks" with big Google content push

The Snapdragon 821 is supposed to debut in upcoming flagship smartphones. We already have official word that the ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe will be the first out the gate with Qualcomm’s newest. Are these enhancements enough to put a hold on your next smartphone purchase or do you think the current Snapdragon 820 is just fine?