The Snapdragon 820 and 821 were met with praise last year, receiving almost no complaints compared to their overheating predecessor, the Snapdragon 810. But now, all eyes are on Qualcomm to see what goodies they have in store for us this year, as their new SoC, the Snapdragon 835, will be revealed this week at CES 2017.
Qualcomm published a short blog regarding their collaberation with Samsung to use the Korean tech giant's "revolutionary" 10 nm FinFET process to manufacture the Snapdragon 835. Shortly after that, Qualcomm made the 835 official with a detailed blog post containing all of the key specs, so we now know exactly what's in store for the processor that will likely power most 2017 flagship smartphones.
The new Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 comes with five main improvements over last year's Snapdragon 820/821: Battery life, immersive augmented and virtual reality, camera capturing, LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity, and security (via Qualcomm Haven). A sort of bonus sixth improvement that Qualcomm tied into the first five is its machine-learning platform, so let's explore the significance of all these features.
The battery improvements begin with efficiency while streaming music, uploading videos, participating in conference calls, and playing VR games. This is one area where Qualcomm's machine learning comes into play, as the Kryo 280 CPU, Adreno 540 GPU, Hexagon DSP, and Spectra 180 ISP will maintain separate workloads while being governed by the Symphony System Manager to provide better thermals and longer battery life. This is fantastic, because forgetting your charging cable at home usually doesn't end well.
The AR and VR improvements basically correct everything that the Snapdragon 820 and 821 did poorly. This includes properly timed audio, sharper visuals with faster processing, and fluid interactions—much less frustration for an overall enhanced experience. All of this is made possible by a heterogeneous computing approach that will divide parts of the Snapdragon 835 for audio, video, and motion usage.
There's no doubt about it, everyone uses the camera on their phone. It could be for selfies, capturing memorable moments, or recording ridiculous scenes to upload to Worldstar. Either way, the camera is an essential piece of daily phone usage for almost all users.
The Snapdragon 835 offers improvements to photography, recording, and video playback. Qualcomm has improved the SoC's zoom capabilities, as well as the image stabilization for photos and videos. This is thanks to the new and optimized software algorithms being used by Qualcomm to switch between the processing systems being used for increased efficiency.
No matter where we are or what we're doing, we're usually using the internet. It could be through a Wi-Fi connection or an LTE signal from your cell phone provider, but either way, most people wouldn't know what to do without being connected (imagine a world with no Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Netflix, iMessage, or WonderHowTo).
Not to worry, the Snapdragon 835 will ensure that your internet connection is always as speedy as it can be. The Snapdragon 835 is capable of gigabit and multi-gigabit connectivity, which should reduce lag and choppiness while browsing. However, this all depends on how much you're paying your provider and how efficient they are.
Qualcomm seems to be stuffing as many features as possible into the 835, to the point where it almost sounds too good to be true. The 835 will not only support the usual hardware security (a fingerprint scanner), but it will also support retinal and facial recognition via the front-facing camera. In addition to that, the Snapdragon 835 will have increased software security to protect your device from rogue apps, malware, and adware—maybe this will stop companies like Verizon from taking advantage of their users.
Last but not least, the Snapdragon 835 will integrate machine learning into all of the key improvements. This means your phone's biometric security features should operate more fluidly, the device will detect objects faster when taking a picture, and the same tech can even help track your hand when using VR apps or games.
On top of that, the 835's machine learning skills can help your phone listen for hot words that trigger your favorite virtual assistant, so we won't look like complete fools when we're shouting "OK Google" at our very expensive device that doesn't respond half the time. So overall, your device will be much smarter and more understanding—sounds a lot like Skynet, huh?
That's all of the biggest news about the Snapdragon 835, but what do you guys think? Did Qualcomm make the right decision in picking improved power consumption over performance (like they usually do)?
What remains to be seen is how OEMs will handle the Snapdragon 835—bigger batteries to go along with the more efficient 835, skinnier phones, or a little bit of both? Let us know what you would like to see in the comments below.