OnQ Blog

Snapdragon 855: The premier mobile platform for a new decade of 5G, AI, and XR [video]

Dec 5, 2018

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

We’ve been looking forward to what's coming in 2019 for a long time — for around 10 years, to be specific. In 2019, you’ll start to see 5G rolling out to premium-tier mobile devices. But that’s not all: You’re likely to experience big leaps forward in AI, videography, battery life, gaming, and XR.

The upcoming new year is shaping up to be a transformative year, setting the stage for the next decade of mobile experiences, and Qualcomm’s breakthrough technologies are the driving force behind this revolution.

Today at our Snapdragon Tech Summit event in Hawaii, we unveiled the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform. It’s the world’s first commercial 5G mobile platform, harnessing multi-gigabit 4G connectivity while unleashing transformative 5G experiences.

And there’s so much more to it.

Next-generation, on-device AI can make your voice, camera, gaming, and XR smarter, faster, and more intuitive. That means your smartphone can deliver a personalized, optimized experience, without you needing to fuss with the settings.

Get immersed in XR experiences that blur the line between real and virtual worlds. Enjoy your games, movies, and photos in true HDR, displayed in over 1 billion shades of color, for more lifelike and photoreal experiences. And experience unimaginable performance and power efficiency unlike any other platform, thanks to new architectures improvements and leading 7nm technology.

A new decade of 5G, AI, and XR is here — and we’re delivering it with the Snapdragon 855, coming to premium devices during the next year. Here’s a closer look at the mobile platform’s highlights.

Industry-first connectivity

Did we mention Snapdragon 855 is the world’s first commercial 5G mobile platform? It bears repeating. This once-in-a-decade leap forward supports 5G NR mmWave and sub-6 GHz for blazing-fast responsiveness and unprecedented speeds — multi-gigabit speeds previously unimaginable in mobile.

On mmWave, users can expect up to 20X gain in real-world speeds over 4G to handle even some of the most extreme data demands, while paving the way for the experiences of tomorrow. This platform also offers powerful next generation Wi-Fi performance, so Snapdragon 855-enabled devices can provide increased capacity, lower latency, and enhanced security. This “multi-gigabit everything” platform is designed to have you covered, whether over Wi-Fi or cellular connection, even in high-traffic areas such as airports or entertainment venues.

Snapdragon 855 is a true comprehensive connectivity experience, and it is designed to have a huge effect on mobile experiences as new capabilities are unlocked by multi-gigabit 4G connectivity with the built in Snapdragon X24 LTE modem.

There’s no greater connectivity test than mobile gaming, and Snapdragon 855 shines here thanks, in part, to Snapdragon Elite Gaming. Not only will you be able to game at the speed of your reflexes, in high-resolution, even in AR, but our VR capabilities will blow you away too. You’ll be able to stream high-quality, volumetric VR experiences without virtually any lag or stutter.

The power of Snapdragon

Powered by new architecture improvements and leading 7nm technology, Snapdragon 855 is a perfect mobile platform for the 5G era. It is engineered to pack extreme data, power complex apps with reduced battery drain, and boast incredible speed and performance. Our cutting-edge Qualcomm Kryo 485 CPU offers up to 45 percent performance uplift over our previous generation flagship platform, featuring a prime core capable of up to 2.84 GHz speeds. This next-generation platform offers a striking improvement in efficiency, allowing users to do more and charge less throughout the day.

It’s designed to power every device functionality to its full potential, with less battery depletion. And if you run low on juice, our Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+ technology will get you charged from 0 to 50 percent in as little as 15 minutes*.

Performance goes beyond battery, and the new Qualcomm Adreno 640 GPU offers 20 percent faster graphics than the previous generation rendering to support sustained gaming at an incredible resolution.

More importantly, the Qualcomm Hexagon 690 Processor has been rebuilt for AI, adding in new accelerators including 2X the number of vector accelerators than the previous generation and the Tensor accelerator. For voice and audio, enhancements to the voice assistant allows this accelerator to power experiences like Elevoc’s noise cancellation demo and numerous voice assistant engines from Google, Amazon, and Baidu.

Snapdragon 855 also includes the first commercial ultrasonic fingerprint sensing solution for mobile, that’s designed to go under the display. Qualcomm 3D Sonic Sensor captures a full 3D image of your fingerprint’s ridges and pores — unique to you — whether your fingers are wet or oily, for the ultimate in security solutions.

It all adds up to a hard-driving, long-lasting mobile performance that’s truly one-of-a-kind.

On-device AI

AI is revolutionizing the smartphone experience across both hardware and software, in the cloud, and on your device. And Snapdragon 855 is destined to lead the way for on-device AI in the next generation of premium smartphones.

Thanks to all-new accelerators and a revamped 4th-gen AI engine that’s faster, smarter, more secure, and more aware than its predecessors, Snapdragon 855 packs 3X the performance of its predecessor. It ushers in an intuitive new world of capabilities for voice, camera, gaming, and XR. What that means for you: Your phone can have improved contextual awareness so it can automatically respond to your surroundings. For example, it knows how to take the best possible video, complete with portrait mode (even if you’re a lousy videographer). It can translate text at the speed of conversation, with incredible accuracy. And it can eliminate annoying background noises around you, so you can speak and hear clearly on a web call. 

And this AI processing can happen on your device itself. We’re taking AI and machine learning from the data center to your device rather than the cloud, for better privacy and security, more efficient power use, and faster speeds. From voice assistance to camera intelligence to XR eye and hand tracking, the Snapdragon 855 platform innovates at a whole new level — and signals the dawn of a world with on-device AI.

We continue growing an in-depth roster of ecosystem companies, who are utilizing our AI platform and creating their own applications to expand device capabilities. At today’s Tech Summit, Google demoed how its computer vision technology steps up when words fail, like when you’re shopping for something you can’t quite describe. We worked with Google to help bring this technology from the cloud to the device, enabling improved accuracy, lower latency, and greater scalability.

Elevoc, an AI company based in China, demoed its noise cancellation algorithm, which filters out ambient noise using machine learning, for crystal clear phone calls. Even in a busy café, it allows you to focus on communicating with those important to you.

Face++ showed a demo called SuperIQ, which is designed to improve photo quality in images captured in low-light environments. Using machine learning with denoising networks, it can turn blurry pictures into crisp photographs and truly capture every detail.

For another AI-powered camera feature, Arcsoft showed Super Night Shot. It uses machine learning to optimize the quality of photos you take at night, analyzing and lightening them, at a pixel-by-pixel level.

Rounding out the demos, Next VR took the stage to show how 5G and AI are revolutionizing XR, finally making it feel like you’re really there and allowing you to see content as clearly as in the real world. In a soccer broadcast, for example, you’ll actually be able to recognize the individual players. Plus, 5G will enable 6DoF and allow you to get up and move forward, back, and all around live video content.

Brilliant camera features

For many people, a phone’s ability to take great photos and videos is their primary reason for choosing one device over another. Snapdragon 855 sets a new standard for capturing cinema-grade videos. It features the world’s first announced computer vision image signal processor (CV-ISP) Qualcomm Spectra 380 to enable cutting-edge photography and video capture features.

The CV-ISP provides computer vision object classification and segmentation for enhanced photos, so you can separate elements of the scene and even swap out backgrounds and objects in real time.

Thanks to the CV-ISP computer vision tasks at much faster speeds and at lower power for up to 4X power savings. The CV-ISP can achieve depth at a full 60 fps, the same as color video capture. With this feature, Snapdragon 855 is the first announced mobile platform to capture 4K HDR with portrait mode. These videos feature that same soft, out-of-focus bokeh background.

The second-gen HDR capture is a marvel — and is a full two generations ahead of the rest of the industry. The second-generation 4K HDR video capture is the first commercial 4K HD to enable the HDR10+ format and continues to boast more than 1 billion shades of color for exceptional contrast and clarity in 4K HDR at 10-bit color depth. At the same time, we’ve reduced the power consumption for video shooting by up to 30 percent compared to the previous generation, so you can keep recording without the hit to your battery.

The Snapdragon 855 is also the first Snapdragon to feature HEIF hardware, inside the Qualcomm Spectra 380 CV-ISP. When you’re done making memories, Snapdragon 855 uses the HEIF file format to store what you shoot at half the file size and can store the computer vision data too. You can use that CV data to later edit and create new imagery from these photos.

Captivating entertainment

The HDR superpowers aren’t just built into the camera. You can also get 4K HDR video playback, streaming, and the world’s first true HDR gaming on mobile, for the most immersive mobile entertainment experience.

And Snapdragon 855 is the first platform to offer Snapdragon Elite Gaming, delivering powerful features and innovative enhancements designed to bring you elite pro-level gaming experiences. At the heart is the Adreno 640 GPU, it is our first mobile platform to support Vulkan 1.1, the latest API for next-level realism. Adreno 640 also delivers Physically Based Rendering so textures on environments and characters look closer to reality. And with HDR, you’ll be able to game in over a billion shades of color at 10-bit color depth.

4K HDR video playback is better than ever. It’s the first Snapdragon to feature HDR10+ video playback and a H.265 and VP9 decoder for up to 7X power savings when watching YouTube HDR video.

On the audio front, Qualcomm aptX Adaptive provides the best possible Bluetooth audio signal, dynamically adjusting the sound quality and bitrate to fit your surroundings and the type of media you’re streaming. Along with Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo Plus, which gives you a completely wire-free stereo audio experience, Snapdragon 855 is bringing these new wireless features to smartphones for the first time.

More to come

The first commercial 5G mobile platform is also the most versatile and intelligent Snapdragon mobile platform we’ve ever produced. And with so much forward momentum, 2019 will truly be a breakthrough year, as the mobile industry brings a new class of premium-tier smartphones to reality and enable mobile experiences you’ve only imagined.

*Quick Charge is designed to increase the battery charge of a device by up to 50% in 15 minutes. Actual results may vary depending on device design.
Qualcomm Snapdragon, Qualcomm Adreno, Qualcomm Hexagon, Qualcomm Spectra, Qualcomm Kryo, Qualcomm Quick Charge, Qualcomm TrueWireless, Qualcomm 3D Sonic Sensor and Qualcomm aptX are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

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