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How does Snapdragon 845 capture more lifelike experiences? [video]

In every part of the world, there is a new generation of consumers who are born with mobility and the Internet. Their smartphone cameras are more than just a way to capture a moment -- it’s the vehicle to show others who they are. Services built around communicating through photos and videos, including Facebook’s Instagram and Messenger, Google’s YouTube, WeChat, and Snapchat, are an integral part of their daily lives. Capturing more lifelike experiences is particularly important to this generation of consumers, however, I think we all want to be able to take better pictures and videos that we can share with our friends and family.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform aims to significantly advance the camera experience through its integrated second-generation Qualcomm Spectra 280 image signal processor (ISP), which features a completely new architecture. Qualcomm Spectra 280 is engineered to support immersive, cutting-edge mobile photography and video capture, even in challenging lighting conditions with lots of movement. Beyond accurately capturing the colors of life, Snapdragon 845 was also designed to capture the depth of three-dimensional images for new XR experiences. Additionally, it supports emerging consumer use cases that require cameras to accurately capture faces for unlocking devices and security-rich e-commerce transactions.

A quantum leap in color capture

During the past decade, the mobile industry has seen significant improvements in video capture and display resolution. Though still images and videos have become sharper through these significant improvements in the quantity of pixels, advancements in mobile color quality unfortunately have remained relatively flat – until now. Compared to the previous-generation Spectra ISPs for Snapdragon, the new Qualcomm Spectra 280 ISP delivers a 64 times increase in color data and will capture video at 30 percent lower power consumption.

Consumer devices built with Snapdragon 845 will be capable of high-dynamic range (HDR) video capture designed for incredibly lifelike playback on new mobile displays and Ultra HD Premium TVs. Ultra HD Premium video capture is designed to provide a tremendous boost to image quality and color volume by not only increasing the quantity of pixels captured, but also by improving the quality of them through support of an expanded color volume on Snapdragon 845. Color volume involves color depth, color gamut, and luminance. Let’s take a look at each of these aspects so you can understand how visual capture with Snapdragon 845 will be improved.

Color depth

Color depth refers to how many bits of precision are used to represent the number of different shades per color channel – more bits mean more precision. In the conceptual diagram below, as we move from 8-bit to 10-bit, you see an increase of 64 times more shades.

Think about that for a second – remember how significant it was when the industry went from 480p standard-definition TVs to high-definition 1080p? Well, that was an increase of less than seven times in pixel quantity, but here with 10-bit color, we’re jumping by 64 times in pixel quality, so it’s a substantial improvement. The boost in color quality doesn’t stop at color depth increases alone, as I’ll describe next.

Color gamut

Color gamut describes the range of possible colors within the human-visible spectrum of light that a device can reproduce. Qualcomm Spectra 280 roughly doubles that aspect of color quality in Snapdragon 845 as compared to Snapdragon 835. Check out the diagram below. The smaller triangle labeled as Rec. 709 corresponds to the color gamut that Snapdragon 835 supported for video capture. The larger triangle shows the much wider Rec. 2020 color gamut that Snapdragon 845 captures and encodes for more lifelike visual experiences.

Look how much the quality improves with Snapdragon 845’s wider Rec. 2020 color gamut.


It may not be intuitive, but it turns out that color isn’t two-dimensional – there’s a third component called luminance, which is a measure of the brightness of an object. A higher dynamic luminance range and wider color space results in a larger color volume, as you can see by the diagram below. We think you’ll be amazed when you see the impressive lifelike quality of videos you’ll be able to capture and share with Snapdragon 845, as HDR video capture for Ultra HD Premium displays makes a big difference.

High-quality, high-performance photography

To deliver substantially improved still image capture, we’ve introduced multi-frame noise reduction to Qualcomm Spectra 280. This is engineered to eliminate unwanted noise from snapshots by utilizing many snapshots taken within a fraction of a second of one another – up to 60 images in a second, as large as 16 megapixels. The result? An incredible final image, but without any noticeable decrease in the speed of picture taking.

High-resolution and high-accuracy depth sensing

The new Qualcomm Spectra 280 image signal processor was designed to not only increase two-dimensional image quality and speed, but also to enhance three-dimensional depth sensing with high-resolution and accuracy – and at very low power. Back in the day, cameras were only used for taking pictures or recording videos, but now they’re used for a wide variety of applications within the field of computer vision that helps automate useful actions by processing, analyzing, and understanding images from the real world. For example, extracting real-world depth information and turning that information into “depth maps” helps determine which objects are in the foreground and background. With this information, Snapdragon 845 can accurately do things like blur just the background of a photograph for artistic bokeh effects, making your photos look more like the professional kind that are taken with expensive DSLR cameras.

Depth sensing is also critical to XR, enabling true six degrees of freedom (6DoF) head tracking with simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM). Traditional XR experiences just tracked your head movement when you’re sitting or standing in one place, but through its support of 6DoF SLAM, Snapdragon 845 helps track body movements, recognize objects, and determine room dimensions so you can walk around rooms and effortlessly interact with both virtual and real-world entities in XR environments.

Many engineers at Qualcomm Technologies worked very hard for years to deliver these technology advancements. We’re very excited to see the remarkable video and photography capabilities made possible by Snapdragon 845 come to life on devices expected to be available for consumers later this year!


Qualcomm Snapdragon and Qualcomm Spectra are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.