The Snapdragon 888 5G mobile platform is official, and it’s the fastest processor made by Qualcomm. This is the processor that will power most flagships next year, including the Xiaomi M11 and Realme Race. The chipmaker said the Snapdragon 888 offers improved performance for the next-generation of high-end 5G smartphones.
The launch of the Snapdragon 888 comes at a time when consumers are thinking twice to buy premium smartphones due to job losses and uncertainty due to the pandemic. Qualcomm, however, does not think that the demand for top-tier smartphones has fallen. In fact, Qualcomm said there is a high demand for flagship smartphones in many parts of the world, including India.
Now that the Snapdragon 888 has been made official, we thought of highlighting the top five features of the latest mobile chipset.
The Snapdragon 888 comes with an integrated 5G modem, and that’s a good thing. Previously, smartphone brands had to use two different chips, complicating the process of designing the phone. Given the mobile chip is integrated with a third-generation X60 5G modem, it is easy to manufacture smartphones. Phone makers had been demanding a flagship single chip that acts as the brain of a phone and connects to 5G, all through one solution. The integration of the phone’s chip with the modem results in longer battery life and lower cost of smartphones. The solution will support both mmWave and sub-6 spectrums, in addition to 5G carrier aggregation, global multi-SIM, standalone and non-standalone connectivity.
6th AI engine
A mobile processor isn’t enough to perform complicated tasks such as image processing or facial recognition. Perhaps why chipmakers like Qualcomm are excessively relying on artificial intelligence (AI) run photo and video editing applications. The new Snapdragon 888 has a new Hexagon 780 AI processor integrated into the chip, which Qualcomm says performs 50 per cent faster than last year. Thanks to the chip’s reliance on machine learning, the Snapdragon 888 manages 26 trillion operations per second, or TOPS, which promises a big jump in the power efficiency of AI tasks.
Powerful performance and Adreno GPU for improved gaming
The company says the Snapdragon 888 makes it the first Qualcomm chip to use a 5nm semiconductor fab process. This translates to a more efficient chip with less power consumption. The Snapdragon 888 has a built-in graphics processor, called Adreno 660, that the company said renders graphics 35 per cent faster.
In addition, Qualcomm is betting heavily on gaming on the high-end phones that will be powered by the Snapdragon 888 chip. It said the new chip features the third generation of its Elite Gaming platform that brings Variable Rate Shading (VRS) to mobile phones for the first time, a technique that brings photo-realism to games. The Snapdragon 888 will also support displays with a refresh rate of up to 144Hz.
Qualcomm is also betting on computational photography to transform smartphones into professional cameras of sorts. All thanks to the updated ISP, the Snapdragon 888 will be able to capture photos at up to 2.7 gigapixels per second, which should translate to 120 photos per second at 12MP. The camera system actually captures shots at up to 200-megapixel resolution, as well as 8K and 4K HDR video recording The chip can also shoot a video with HDR, a feature Apple heavily highlighted using the launch of the iPhone 12 series.
Chinese brands race ahead to launch phones with the Snapdragon 888
Commercial smartphones based on Snapdragon 888 are expected to be announced in the first quarter of 2021. As expected, Chinese smartphone brands dominate the list of manufacturers developing devices using the Snapdragon 888, including OnePlus, Realme and Xiaomi. Notably, Samsung hasn’t confirmed its plans to launch a phone with Qualcomm’s latest flagship chip. With the Galaxy S21 rumoured to launch early next year, the omission of Samsung’s name from the OEMs list does raise some eyebrows. Another OEM that is yet to confirm a flagship smartphone using the new chip is HMD Global.