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Qualcomm reveals Snapdragon 855, even more 5G plans at its Tech Summit

Qualcomm has just revealed the name and a few key details about its next-gen mobile platform, the Snapdragon 855.

Published onDecember 4, 2018

A Snapdragon 855 graphic at Qualcomm's Tech Summit.

We’ve just finished the opening keynote at Qualcomm’s annual Technology Summit, taking place in Maui again this year. Today’s announcements includes a name-drop for its next-generation mobile platform, the Snapdragon 855. We’ve also learned a bit more about what’s coming our way next year with the first 5G devices and networks.

What is 5G, and what can we expect from it?
Red 5G logo

You’re probably here for the details on the Snapdragon 855, Qualcomm’s premium mobile platform that will no doubt be powering countless flagship smartphones next year. Indeed, OnePlus has confirmed it will use the chipset in its 2019 flagship phone and in its first 5G phone, while Lenovo will use it in its upcoming Z5 Pro GT phone that will also have 12GB of RAM.

Along with blazing fast 4G LTE and Wi-Fi, the Snapdragon 855 is being billed as the company’s major 5G platform. Although technically Qualcomm’s 5G X50 modem plays nicely with the Snapdragon 845 and 835 too, the 855 will probably be the platform that powers 2019’s integrated 5G phones. The Moto Z3’s 5G Mod doesn’t really count — sorry Motorola.

In addition, the Snapdragon 855 will feature Qualcomm’s fourth generation AI Engine. The setup boasts up to three times the AI performance of previous generation chips. This will hopefully translate into big gains for smart assistants, object recognition, biometric security, and image processing. Speaking of which, the Snapdragon 855 introduces Qualcomm’s Computer Vision (CV) ISP. This change to the image processing pipeline promises big boosts to computational photography and video capture features.

The chip also supports Qualcomm’s new 3D Sonic Sensor fingerprint technology. Rather than relying on optical or capacitive technology like current in-display products, Qualcomm’s sonic sensor uses ultrasound waves to capture fingerprint details. It even works through multiple layers, such as glass, to enable discrete implementations. Perhaps Samsung’s is planning to use this technology for next year’s Galaxy S10. Finally, gaming looks set or a major step up via the company’s Snapdragon Elite Gaming initiative.

In addition to the new details on the Snapdragon 855, Qualcomm and its partners have also talked up the use cases coming our way with next-generation 5G networks in 2019. Through the combined abilities of its latest platform, Qualcomm anticipates that we could soon all be shopping online using augmented reality, gaming on public transport thanks to ultra low-latency networks, and use tools for multi-language video chat. Qualcomm also expects a range of new innovations and market segments, beyond just smartphones, to spring out of the 5G rollout.

Qualcomm is still expecting that the first 5G smartphones will be in consumers hands in the next few months, utilizing both its X50 modem and radio frequency modules. The US market is still set to offer the first 5G networks next year, with Europe’s networks coming online later in 2019 and early 2020. The company also expects that mmWave, in addition to sub 6GHz technology, will potentially be deployed more widely than expected. Europe, Japan, and South Korea now evaluating the technology for their own roadmaps.

We’ll dive further into the details of the Snapdragon 855 tomorrow, including what’s new with the SoC’s CPU, GPU, and AI. So be sure to tune back in tomorrow for the full breakdown.

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