After the success of the Snapdragon 835, Qualcomm now has its eyes set towards the future with the arrival of its next-generation SoC, the Snapdragon 845. Debuting alongside the Samsung Galaxy S9, the 845 is now set to take over the market for flagship Android phones in 2018.
The Snapdragon 845 comes with a host of upgrades that make it a worthy successor to the 835, and it's set to make its mark as more companies like HTC and ZTE adopt it in their flagships. Now that the Galaxy S9 has arrived, we decided to focus on this powerful processor and touch upon key features found within it to give you a better picture of its potential.
The most innovative feature of the Snapdragon 845 is its adoption of ARM's brand new DynamIQ cluster technology, which reduces compartmentalization by combining multiple CPUs into a single cluster. ARM's previous big.LITTLE SoCs aimed to optimize performance and power consumption through the use of specialized processors. According to ARM:
"LITTLE" processors are designed for maximum power efficiency while "big" processors are designed to provide maximum compute performance. Both types of processor are coherent and share the same instruction set architecture (ISA).
With DynamIQ, CPU cores are no longer hosted in dedicated cluster subsystems, but are now integrated into a single, larger cluster. Because of this, data flow between CPUs is now much smoother, which results in increased overall efficiency and performance — particularly for processor-intensive tasks — while greatly reducing power consumption and heat output.
When it comes to LTE connectivity, the Snapdragon 845 blows its predecessor out of the water. This is thanks to Qualcomm's all-new X20 LTE modem, which is the first in the world to support Category 18 download speeds.
This translates to theoretical download speeds of up to 1.2 Gbps, which is 20% faster than the 835. Of course, actual speeds will depend on your connection, but the 845 certainly won't be the weakest link.
As almost everyone can attest to, connecting to the internet on a congested Wi-Fi network is a nightmare of slow connections and dead spots. This issue may soon go the way of the dodo bird thanks to the Snapdragon 845.
The Snapdragon 845 incorporates 2x2 802.11ac Wi-Fi that's been further optimized, which will give you the ability to squeeze into even the most congested networks with virtually zero interruptions. Because this latest Wi-Fi standard utilizes two antennae instead of one, the chances of running into dead spots in your home or in public will decrease dramatically.
One of the more interesting aspects of the Snapdragon 845 is the fact that it's capable of listening for two hotwords, a notable first in the industry. As Android Police editor David Ruddock explains:
btw I don't know how many people know this, but "OK/Hey Google" is really just one hotword: "ay Google." Try it. It's actually a pretty clever little trick, because current hardware only supports one hotword on a device at a time. Future chipsets (like SD845) will support two.
Having two hotwords gives us more options to call for our AI helpers, and also has the unprecedented potential of letting us summon two virtual assistants on one device. Thanks to the Snapdragon 845, having a choice between calling for Google or Cortana may not be far off the horizon.
One of the key improvements in the Snapdragon 845 is its enhanced image signal processor (ISP), the Spectra 280. The Snapdragon 835's ISP was a weak point, leaving companies to choose between sacrificing camera performance or creating their own ISP to make up for the shortfall. Fortunately, the 845's improved ISP will give manufacturers like HTC an awesome base to build their camera software on.
The Spectra 280 ISP brings a slew of improvements to the table as far as camera performance goes, key of which is its ability to perform 4K video encoding at 60 fps. It also supports slow-motion video capture at either 720p at 480 fps, or 1080p at 240 fps. The Spectra 280 ISP is also capable of selective motion capture, "deep" portrait mode, and with various depth sensing technologies.
Mobile technology seems to have reached a point where updates are only iterative, but Qualcomm has bucked this trend by making great strides with its flagship SoC this year. Will you be buying a phone with a Snapdragon 845 in 2018? Let us know in the comment section below.