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At the annual Tech Summit, this year held in Hawaii, Qualcomm has unveiled its next-generation smartphone chip, the Snapdragon 855. It is the first chip that will have 5G, and will be in many of the 2019 flagships from Samsung, Google and other phone manufacturers.

A  spokesperson for Samsung took to the stage to confirm that the next major release would feature the 855, though some markets will get Samsung’s on Exnyos processor instead.

The Snapdragon 855 will also support a brand new in-screen fingerprint sensor called the 3D Sonic sensor. Instead of recording a 2D image of your finger, it uses an ultrasonic sensor to build up a 3D model. This is said to work even if your finger is wet or oily.

The sensor isn’t part of the 855, and you’ll only see it if phone manufacturers decide to use it. It won’t put an end to the current trend for screen notches, since that will still be necesary for the selfie camera at a minimum.

4th Gen AI Engine

Not many details have been given yet, partly because Qualcomm is downplaying things such as CPU and GPU performance in favour of the overall experience. And so far it has only said that the latest AI Engine has 3x the performance of the one in the Snapdragon 845, and is twice as quick as other 7nm chips.

That means Apple’s A12 Bionic and Huawei’s Kirin 980. It also suggests the 855 itself is using a 7nm manufacturing process, which is no surprise.

The new AI engine is said to efficiently pick whichever processing core is appropriate for the best user experience.

It also looks very much like the focus of the 855 will be on AR and image processing.

Computer vision ISP

Part of the 855 platform is a brand new image signal processor. Like the NPU in the Kirin 980, this intelligently understands the scene when you point the camera and adjusts parameters to capture the best photos and videos.

We’ll learn more about this and the 855 in general tomorrow.

The final teaser concerns mobile gaming. Qualcomm announced Elite Gaming. This is a hollistic approach to gaming, and not simply a highly tuned GPU. Qualcomm spoke of the complete package of immersion, visuals and sound, adding that this won’t compromise long battery life and saying that, with the 855 in your phone, you’ll feel like you have a proper games console in your hands.

Recently Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 675, to target gamers buying mid-range phones.

Snapdraon 855 5G

5G is part of the 855 of course. This is delivered via Qualcomm’s latest X50 modem which will work in partnership with new infrastructre from mobile operators to deliver “vastly faster speeds” than are possible with 4G.


  • Introducing the world’s first commercial 5G mobile platform. Whether in a jam-packed arena or a quiet, suburban area, you can experience robust, seamless connectivity like never before. The Snapdragon 855 delivers transformative 5G experiences and next-generation Wi-Fi performance.

    • World’s first 5G mmWave and sub-6 GHz mobile solution
    •  World’s first 2 Gbps LTE modem including the world’s first 7x Carrier Aggregation and world’s first 14nm RF Chip
  • Qualcomm Wi-Fi 6-ready and 60 GHz Wi-Fi mobile platforms provide Wi-Fi connectivity for the 5G-era, boosting performance in traditional 2.4 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi bands, as well as harnessing the potential of the 60 GHz mmWave band for double-digit wireless speed and wire-equivalent latency.

  • World’s First HDR10+ mobile video capture and playback for imagery with even more contrast and detail

  • World’s First 4K HDR Video Capture with Portrait Mode (Bokeh) so you can film cinema-grade videos

  • 4K HDR Video Capture and Playback – 10 bit-color depth and Rec. 2020 color gamut can capture over 1 billion shades of color.

  • Multi-frame Noise Reduction (MFNR) software delivers sharp and color photos even in low light

  • World’s First Computer Vision ISP (CV-ISP) delivers real-time object recognition, segmentation, and replacement to allow users to isolate and swap out backgrounds and objects– in real-time

  • Hardware Accelerator for HEIF and HEVC image formats lets your device store photos and videos half the file size, store multiple images and video in the same file and store the corresponding computer vision data.

  • Record at an astonishing 480 frames per second, with the ability to shoot unlimited HD slow-motion footage – and even apply it to multiple parts of your video.

  • Qualcomm’s advanced hardware decoder, Cinema Experience, works faster at lower power to deliver the ultimate cinema experience, deliver up to 7x power savings so you can watch more video per charge. Be the First to stream and playback next-gen HDR content (HDR10+, Dolby Vision, etc) on your mobile device

  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ Elite Gaming experience delivers the performance, features and enhancements to power the next generation of elite mobile gaming devices. With the next-gen Adreno 640 GPU, Vulkan 1.1, HDR Gaming, and Physically Based Rendering, elite gaming on mobile is achieved.

    • The Snapdragon 855 also boasts Physically Based Rendering so objects are recreated to mimic the real-life look, feel, depth, and material, presenting extremely realistic, deeply dimensional visuals.
    • First for mobile gaming: Vulkan 1.1
    • First true HDR gaming on mobile
  • aptX Adaptive delivers robust, smooth wireless audio that dynamically adjusts its performance to provide optimum audio quality, latency, and power savings – no matter what type of content is playing. This creates the ultimate seamless wireless listening experience

  • Hexagon Voice Assistant accelerator supports two wake words simultaneously (Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Baidu, Cortana)

  • Aqstic offers a hardware-based voice assistant accelerator for always-on echo cancellation and noise suppression, plus up to 4 mic far-field mic support for better voice recognition in tough conditions

  • 3D Face Detect is a highly detailed and sophisticated identification solution. It uses a 3-camera system to capture a 3-dimensional image of your face. Compared to the 2-dimensional face scans currently in the industry, this method of identification promises better performance and higher accuracy.

  • Introducing the most cutting-edge, secure, and accurate fingerprint solution to date: 3D Sonic. This new technology uses acoustics (sound) to scan the pores of your finger, resulting in a deeply accurate, 3-dimensional read. Over time, your device will learn the unique patterns of your fingerprint for better speed, accuracy and identification.



5G Chipset: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X50 Modem

5G Technology: 5G NR

5G Spectrum: mmWave, sub-6 GHz

5G mmWave specs: 800 MHz bandwidth, 8 carriers, 2×2 MIMO

5G sub-6 GHz specs: 100 MHz bandwidth, 4×4 MIMO

mmWave Features: Dual-layer polarization in downlink and uplink, Beam forming, Beam steering, Beam tracking

Qualcomm® Artificial Intelligence Engine

CPU: Qualcomm® Kryo™ 485 CPU

GPU: Qualcomm® Adreno™ 640 GPU

DSP: Qualcomm® Hexagon™ 690 Processor, Qualcomm® Hexagon™ Vector Accelerator, Qualcomm® Hexagon™ Tensor Accelerator, Qualcomm® Hexagon™ Voice Assistant, Qualcomm All-Ways Aware™ technology


CPU Clock Speed: Up to 2.84 GHz

CPU Cores: 8x Qualcomm® Kryo™ 485 CPU

CPU Bit Architecture: 64-bit


Process Technology: 7 nm


DSP Technology: Qualcomm® Hexagon™ 690 Processor, Qualcomm® Hexagon™ Vector Accelerator, Qualcomm® Hexagon™ Tensor Accelerator, Qualcomm® Hexagon™ Voice Assistant, Qualcomm All-Ways Aware™ technology

Cellular Modem

Modem Name: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X24 LTE modem

Multi SIM: Dual SIM Dual VoLTE (DSDV)

Next-generation Calling Services: VoLTE with SRVCC to 3G and 2G, HD and Ultra HD Voice (EVS), CSFB to 3G and 2G

LTE Category

Uplink/Downlink LTE Category: LTE Category 20

Uplink LTE Category: LTE Category 13 (uplink)

LTE Downlink Features

Downlink Carrier Aggregation: 7×20 MHz carrier aggregation

Downlink LTE MIMO: Up to 4×4 MIMO on three carriers

Downlink LTE Streams: Maximum 20 spatial streams

Downlink QAM: Up to 256-QAM

LTE Uplink Features

Uplink Technology: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ Upload+, Uplink Data Compression (UDC)

Uplink Carrier Aggregation: 3×20 MHz carrier aggregation

Uplink LTE Streams: Up to 2x 106Mbps LTE streams

Uplink QAM: Up to 256-QAM

LTE Speed

LTE Peak Download Speed: 2 Gbps

LTE Peak Upload Speed: 316 Mbps

Cellular Technology


LTE Technology: LTE FDD, LTE TDD including CBRS support, LAA, LTE Broadcast


Wi-Fi Standards: 802.11ad, 802.11ay, 802.11ax-ready, 802.11ac Wave 2, 802.11a/b/g, 802.11n

Wi-Fi Spectral Bands: 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, 60 GHz

Peak speed: 10 Gbps

Qualcomm Wi-Fi 6-ready technology features: 8×8 spatial streams, 8×8 sounding, WPA3 security support, Target Wakeup Time, Dual-band simultaneous (DBS)

Qualcomm 60 GHz Wi-Fi technology features: Wire-equivalent latency, Always-on Wi-Fi sensing


Bluetooth Version: Bluetooth 5.0

Bluetooth Speed: 2 Mbps


Satellite Systems Support: GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo, QZSS, SBAS, Dual frequency GNSS


Near Field Communications: Supported


Qualcomm® RF Front-End solution: Comprehensive 5G/4G modem-to-antenna solution, QTM052 5G mmWave antenna module, Qualcomm Envelope Tracking


USB Version: USB 3.1, USB-C


Image Signal Processor: Dual 14-bit CV-ISPs, Hardware accelerator for computer vision (CV-ISP), Qualcomm Spectra™ 380 image signal processor

Megapixel Support: Up to 22 MP dual camera, Up to 48 MP single camera

Photo Capture: HEIF photo capture

Video Capture: Rec. 2020 color gamut video capture, Up to 10-bit color depth video capture, Slow motion video capture up to 720p at 480fps, HEVC Video Capture

Video Capture Formats: HDR10+, HDR10, HLG


Codec Support: H.265 (HEVC), H.264 (AVC), HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, VP8, VP9


Maximum On-Device Display Support: Up to 4K HDR

Maximum External Display Support: Up to two 4K HDR displays

HDR: HDR10+, 10-bit color depth, Rec 2020 color gamut

General Audio

Audio Technology: Qualcomm TrueWireless™ Technology, Qualcomm® Broadcast Audio technology, Qualcomm Aqstic™ audio technology, Qualcomm® aptX™ audio technology

Qualcomm® aptX™ playback support: aptX Adaptive


GPU Name: Qualcomm® Adreno™ 640 GPU

Video Playback: Volumetric VR video playback, 8K 360 VR video playback

API Support: OpenGL® ES 3.2, OpenCL™ 2.0 FP, Vulkan® 1.1, DX12


Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ Support: Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 4+ technology


Memory speed: 2133MHz

Memory Type: 4x16bit, LPDDR4x



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