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Snapdragon 888 5G: From gaming to photography, how the new Qualcomm SoC will improve Android phones in 2021

Snapdragon 888 5G mobile platform is the latest and greatest chipset from Qualcomm. Here are all the new features it is bringing with itself to Android phones in 2021.

Sushant Talwar | December 2, 2020 | Updated 20:38 IST

Highlights

  • Snapdragon 888 brings all new connectivity features with itself.
  • The new chipset offers new features for gaming on phones.
  • There are also new upgrades that will bring enhancements to cameras on phones.

Chip maker Qualcomm announced its new flagship chipset, the Snapdragon 888 5G, at the Snapdragon Tech Summit 2020. Launched as the successor to last he successor to last year's Snapdragon 865 SoCs, the new Snapdragon 888 5G mobile platform brings the promise of improved performance for superior overall, gaming and camera performance.

This new chipset which is set to power flagships from at least 14 phone manufacturers including Vivo, Xiaomi, Oppo, and OnePlus is the company's new flagship product, and comes with a fully integrated 5G modem, unlike last year's Snapdragon 865.

This chipset uses all-new processing cores and the X60 modem for keeping the next wave of Android flagships connected to fast 5G networks. Additionally, because of being fabricated using an advanced 5nm manufacturing process, the new Snapdragon 888 also offers improved power efficiency, thereby promising improved battery life for phones it comes with.

Here are five ways in which it will improve Android flagships in 2021.

Integrated 5G modem

One of the key areas of focus for Qualcomm with the Snapdragon 888 5G appears to be connectivity. Along with WiFi 6 and Bluetooth for improved connectivity, the new chipset from Qualcomm also brings with itself an integrated 3rd generation Snapdragon X60 5G modem which the company claims will bring improvements to 5G performance via upgrades to carrier aggregation and mmWave technology. The upgrades in theory should be able to deliver fast commercially available 5G speeds that can go up to 7.5 Gbps.

With the new flagship chipset and it s upgraded modem system, Qualcomm also promises superior coverage across "virtually all major networks worldwide". Snapdragon 888 also comes with the unique ability to support Global 5G multi-SIM, which the company claims will allow OEMs design phones that are better suited for international roaming and managing personal and work numbers on the same phone.

Powerful AI performance

With the Snapdragon 888 5G, Qualcomm claims to have improved majorly in AI performance. In fact, with the new chipset, the company claims to have taken the biggest architectural leap forward in AI in its history. This is because the Snapdragon 888 5G brings with it a redesigned 6th generation Qualcomm AI Engine that's powered by the new Qualcomm Hexagon 780 processor.

Starting next year when the Snapdragon 888 5G chipset becomes a mainstay for flagship Android phones, we can expect the new AI Engine to help bring improved performance to multiple facets of smartphone technology, including cameras, personal voice assistants, gaming and more.

And what's more impressive is that the chipset brings this enhanced AI performance -- up to 26 TOPS -- all while bringing a three-times performance per watt improvement over the Snapdragon 865 chipset.

Improved camera performance

In 2021, the new Snapdragon 888 5G chipset should also bring improvements to the photography performance of supported phones. While it's true that the camera performance of a device is dependent largely on the lens used and the optimisation of the camera software, however, it cannot be denied that a capable Image Signal Processor (ISP) is still needed to tie all the hardware and software elements together.

For this, the next wave of Snapdragon 888 5G running Android flagships will rely on Qualcomm's latest Spectra 580 ISP. As per the company, this is the first ISP capable of capturing from three cameras simultaneously at fast processing speeds of up to 2.7 gigapixels per second. The new ISP will also enable 120fps burst snapshots for capturing ultra-fast high-resolution action shots and the capturing of as many as three 4K HDR videos at the same time.

Qualcomm also claims that it is also bringing improvements to 4K HDR videos with computational HDR video capture "providing dramatic improvements to color, contrast, and detail." In addition to all this, the Qualcomm Spectra 580 ISP will also bring support for a new low light architecture, for brighter photos "even in near darkness". Also included will be support for capturing photos in 10-bit color depth in the HEIF format.

New gaming features

Snapdragon 888 5G also promises to improve the gaming performance on Android devices next year. This is because it comes with the third generation of Qualcomm Snapdragon Elite Gaming which promises "ultra-smooth play at the highest HDR quality graphics". The chipset also adds support for new features such as Variable Rate Shading (VRS) -- the first time on mobile devices.

Qualcomm claims that in comparison to the prior generations, VRS will significantly improve game rendering by up to 30 per cent for more "immersive experiences" than ever before. There are also features such as Qualcomm Game Quick Touch coming to new phones with the Snapdragon 888 5G which promises to increase touch responsiveness by up to 20 per cent, all the while lowering touch latency.

Overall gains in performance

Owing to the use of advanced technologies in the making of Snapdragon 888 5G, the new Snapdragon chipset offers a serious gain in performance all while remaining more power-efficient than previous generation chipsets from the company.

For its processing, the Snapdragon 888 5G relies on Qualcomm Kryo 680 cores which according to the chip maker brings in a 25 per cent increase in overall CPU performance and the ability to reach frequencies of up to 2.84GHz.

For graphics rendering, the new chipset gets the Qualcomm Adreno 660 GPU which in the company's words brings with itself the "biggest performance leap yet". This is because it delivers up to 35 per cent faster graphics rendering compared to the previous generation.

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Tags: Qualcomm
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