Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip heading to 5G phones in early 2019

Qualcomm Snapdragon 855

At the ongoing Snapdragon Tech Summit 2018 in Hawaii, Qualcomm waxed eloquent about 5G and the benefits of its imminent commercialization before teasing the new Snapdragon 855 mobile processor. But the presentation was mainly about 5G, as representatives from Samsung, Verizon, AT&T and EE shared the stage to talk about the next generation wireless network.

Snapdragon 855 main features

Hence details about the Snapdragon 855 were fairly thin on the ground at the time of writing this post. Alex Katouzian, SVP and GM of Mobile for Qualcomm, mentioned that the processor features sub-6GHz and mmWave support. So the chip might be 4G LTE-capable and make 5G connectivity in consumer mobile devices a reality by working smoothly with a Qualcomm QTM052 mmWave antenna module as an add-on.

The 855 accommodates the Qualcomm 3D Sonic Sensor, the latter being the under-display fingerprint sensor (works fine with wet fingers!) which was showcased by the company in 2017. The processor is also blessed with fourth generation AI, better augmented reality skills and a dedicated computer vision image signal processor. The enhanced camera capabilities even cover 4K HDR video capture.

Qualcomm QTM052 mmWave Antenna

All of this technology fits into a 7nm chip, a first for Qualcomm. One of the main attractions from the consumer’s point of view would be the chipset enabling multi-gigabit download speeds on 5G networks on their smartphones. It will obviously be up to mobile operators to meet device makers halfway by launching this next generation network. What good is a 5G handset without the network to support it?

What a lot of people really want to know is whether or not the Snapdragon 855 will be powerful enough to beat the Apple A12 Bionic processor. According to Geekbench scores, the latest iPhone chip does better than the Snapdragon 845 in multi-core tests and it simply blows the latter out of the water in single thread performance.

Comparing the approximate increase in Snapdragon CPU performance from one generation to the next is the only yardstick we can use at present. Going by this, Qualcomm’s new chip might catch up to the A12, but is not certain to outperform it. This is all speculation of course. We won’t know how the Snapdragon 855 truly performs until we see it in consumer devices.

The first few smartphones carrying the processor are lined up for release before the third quarter of 2019.