It’s that time of the year, and Qualcomm is once again hosting a large group of media and influencers, including Ubergizmo, at the Snapdragon Summit, held in Maui.
On the first conference day, Qualcomm has announced two new Snapdragon SoC platforms that will serve the 2020 5G markets globally. At the same time, OEM partners Xiaomi and Oppo came on stage to announce new handsets.
First, Qualcomm has announced Snapdragon 865, the highest-performance processor and mobile platform for 2020. For 5G connectivity, Snapdragon 865 will be supported by the Qualcomm X55 stand-alone modem, and all Snapdragon 865 handsets will have to use X55, so it means that all next-gen phones powered by this combo will support 5G.
While it may surprise some observers that the 5G modem is not integrated into 865, the likely explanation is that the surface area on the chip required to fully support the best 5G experience and performance exceeded the space budgeted to connectivity.
Instead, this area has probably been given to AI and graphics, as Qualcomm hinted about impressive performance increases on that front. Come back tomorrow as we follow the second keynote of this Qualcomm conference.
There is a precedent, and the integration of 4G LTE took longer than two chip cycles. It will take the passage to a new semiconductor process to free up enough space to fully integrate the latest and best 5G into high-end chips. Some competitors may have integrated 5G into their chips, but had to downgrade nominal performance (vs. the standalone version) to do so.
Xiaomi came on stage to praise their partnership with Qualcomm, citing that it was the “most important” to the company, and went on to announce the Mi 10, their next-generation high-end device. Xiaomi is one of the fastest-growing phone OEMs in history and is known to pile-up high-end features at an aggressive price.
Xiaomi is also the first company to launch a phone with a 108MP camera (with Samsung’s new camera sensor, I think), and it can use the Snapdragon 867 capability to handle up to 200 Megapixel cameras in future phones.
Finally, the company teased its trifold smartphone concept, Mix Alpha, a unique design that has a double-hinge to turn a smartphone into a large tablet. The Galaxy Fold remains the only globally available folding phones, but 2020 seems like the battleground for these designs.
Oppo also announced that its unnamed 2020 Q1 flagship smartphone would use Snapdragon 865. That’s hardly a surprise since the OEM has been a long-time Qualcomm partner. On the other hand, Oppo also mentioned the Oppo Reno 3 Pro, a Premium handset running with Snapdragon 765G. The OEM promises a “sleek and ultralight” form-factor with dual-mode 5G.
Not announced, but it’s fair to expect flagship phones such as the Galaxy S11, Galaxy Note 11, LG G9, Pixel 5, OnePlus 8, ZTE Axon 11 and more to be powered by 865. 240 designs are underway with the two new chips.
And that’s a great segway to Snapdragon 765 and Snapdragon 765G, the Premium-tier (just below “high-end”) hardware platform for smartphones.
It is Qualcomm’s mass-market 5G phone, with an integrated 5G modem (Qualcomm X52) directly into the processor, freeing up internal space and cost to phone-makers.
The X52 modem is a bit less performant than its standalone X55 counterpart, but is still able to reach 3.7 Gbps speeds and works with both sub-6 and mmWave frequencies. It comes with 5G features such as DSS (dynamic spectrum sharing), which are key for carriers to upgrade networks from 4G LTE to 5G smoothly.
In addition to the 5G performance, Qualcomm points out that Snapdragon 765 can capture 4K HDR video and features great AI and graphics performance. Now how much will be revealed later, and we’ll know more about technical details during tomorrow’s keynote.
You can watch the whole keynote below: