Qualcomm’s next-gen flagship processor should bring a significant boost to CPU, graphics, and memory performance. But the feature that’s likely to grab the most headlines is that despite lacking an integrated 5G modem, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor will only show up in 5G-ready smartphones.

That’s because Qualcomm is pairing the Snapdragon 865 processor with the Snapdragon X55 5G modem. Phone makers can’t get the chip without that modem… and it doesn’t have any integrated modem, so it’ll use the X55 for 4G LTE connectivity as well.

All of which is to say that it’s looking like 2020 will be the year that 5G gets serious… because odds are that if you buy an Android flagship next year, you’ll be getting a 5G phone.

A lot of mid-range phones will also likely have 5G, since it’s built into the Snapdragon 765 and 765 G mid-tier processors as well.

Qualcomm says its X55 5G modem offers theoretical peak download speeds as high as 7.5 Gbps… which you’ll probably never actually see, since your phone’s storage probably can’t even save data that fast. The Snapdragon 865 also includes WiFi 6 support (for speeds up to 1.8 Gbps), and Bluetooth 5.1.

But enough about connectivity. Qualcomm is also promising better graphics, faster memory, CPU improvements, and support for improved photography and video performance.

The Snapdragon 865 is an octa-core processor with:

  • 1 x 2.84 GHz Kryo 585 ARM Cortex-A77 CPU core
  • 3 x 2.42 GHz Kryo 585 ARM Cortex-A77 CPU cores
  • 4 x 1.8 ARM Cortex-A55 CPU cores
  • Adreno 650 graphics
  • LPDDR5 2750MHz memory support
  • Hexagon 698 DSP
  • Spectra 480 ISP
  • 5th-gen Qualcomm AI Engine
  • Qualcomm Snesing Hub and low power camera

In practical terms, Qualcomm says you can expect the new GPU to offer up to a 25-percent boost in graphics rendering speed, while it’s also about 35-percent more power efficient. The new Kryo 585 CPU cores offer up to a 25-percent boost in performance and power efficiency.

Qualcomm says the new AI engine is more than twice as fast as the version in the Snapdragon 855. And if you’re looking for something concrete that phones with the new chips can do that their predecessors could not, Qualcomm is promising:

  • Support for 200MP cameras (or 64MP with Zero Shutter Lag or dual 25MP ZSL cameras)
  • 8K video encoding & decoding at 30 frames per second or 4K video at 120 frames per second
  • Record slow-motion, 720p video at 960 frames-per-second indefinitely (not just in short bursts)
  • Support for 144 Hz displays

The Snapdragon 865 is also the first chip for any consumer device to feature support for Dolby Vision video capture.

There’s also support for new security features including an upcoming Android R feature that will let you use your phone to store a driver’s license and other identification cards.

Oh — and the Snapdragon 865 will be the first processor that will support updating the GPU drivers via updates distributed through the Google Play Store, meaning you don’t have to wait for an operating system update (like the move from Android 10 to Android 11) to get new drivers.


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2 replies on “Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 is coming to 5G flagships, brings 8K video along for the ride”

  1. I don’t think any real human being actually needs all these features in their phone’s CPU (unless the phone is designed as a laptop replacement, which phones rarely actually are). A 5g surveillance camera designed to do on device person and object identification and tracking however, this would be quite suitable for that.
    5G wont help your phone as much as they’d like you to think, since it doesn’t go through walls and connection will be spotty or nonexistent based on location. A 5g camera won’t be placed anywhere it won’t get a signal.
    8k video is too much for your bandwidth and storage limitations, and you probably filmed vertically anyway, so it’ll have to be scaled down to actually fit on any 8k screen. But more pixels means more clarity when analyzing the objects around the camera, which can get away with transmitting only 720p video with colored boxes and text over anything it recognized and never storing the 8k footage.
    Needing a specific hardware feature for some text and a photo doesn’t make sense. There are already state sponsored and mandated government ID apps. Maybe it’s just a dedicated cryptography processor to speed up connections between your phone and the government database (which doesn’t actually make anything more secure for you given all the other proprietary software running on the chip that’ll be able to take screenshots of your license, registration, and insurance to send to google), but it could help the camera more securely look up whoever it’s tracking I guess.
    But hey, the numbers are bigger, so you can feel like a loser for having anything less, and people can make you feel like a loser on Instagram if your photos aren’t the best because your phone can’t make them the best.

    1. I agree.
      We don’t need 5G or 8K video, at least not until 2022. Right now, it’s perfectly great to rely on +4G/LTE and 4K videos.

      Heck, 1080p looks equally good on those tiny sensors. And I’d recommend 720p instead for some 240fps shooting. Even for photos, 15 Megapixels is usually enough for all scenarios. Though 34MP is recommended for photo/high quality print-outs of large poster size. The phone market is too concerned with sales and advertising, that it gets in the way of practicality and actual advancement. For instance, there’s little need for having all these extra co-processors in the SoC, all these extra small cameras, fragile glass unibody, notched weird aspect ratios, and extra-dense display resolutions. Just have a great SoC without the fluff, have one large sensor camera (with ability to swap lenses), make the phone durable, with a proper flat display, that might be 1080p but is thus brighter, more accurate, and responsive.

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