It’s smaller, lighter, faster and most importantly sucks less battery; meet Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835, the chip every mobile nerd will be lusting after for the next 6 months or so. By the numbers, the 835 is 35% smaller and uses 25% less power thanks to the 10 nm design, and Qualcomm hopes this will allow device manufacturers to design thinner premium-tier consumer devices such as smartphones, VR/AR head-mounted displays, IP cameras, tablets, mobile PCs, and more.
Most of the details about the Snapdragon 835 have been well and truly leaked by now, but let’s review. The Snapdragon 835 is an octa-core processor implementing the big.LITTLE design with the 4 higher powered cores supporting a max clock speed of 2.45 GHz and the 4 low power cores supporting a max clock speed of 1.9 GHz. The chip also includes an Adreno 540 dedicated GPU, Spectra ISP (Image Signal Processor) Hexagon DSP (Digital Signal Processor) and the Haven Security suite to improve both chip and device security.
Qualcomm is heavily promoting the heterogeneous computing approach they are taking with their chips where the individually optimised components of the chip (GPU, ISP, DSP) are bring used to handle different parts of the same tasks for things like AR/VR and machine learning. This apparently allows them to improve performance whilst maintaining lower battery drain, if true this sounds like a great approach, I wonder what the next “Signal Process” will be?
The 835 supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 4 fast charging protocol that can provide “five hours of battery from just 5 minutes of charging”, see our QC4 post for more details on that one! Technically QC4 is compatible with USB C, and QC4 charges can output the 5v 3amp charge as per the USB Power Delivery spec, however, the actual QC4 technology is proprietary and is not a part of the USB-PD spec and as such may technically breach the Android Compatibility Definition Document, however, I’m not thinking this will be a barrier.
Of course, no top-end chip is complete without some AR/ VR compatibility and Qualcomm is boasting a 20% reduction in motion-to-photon- latency, or in English there is a 20% reduction in the time it takes the processor to compute and output the results of your head motion, hopefully reducing VR nausea.
The 835 brings with it all of the standard connectivity you would expect, Wi-Fis, MIMOs, x10 LTE, however, one nice inclusion is Bluetooth 5.0 compatibility; yes that’s right, this is the first official Bluetooth 5.0 certified chip. Unfortunately though, Bluetooth 5.0 does little to improve the many many issues with Bluetooth pairing and audio, so OEMs please keep our headphone jacks in!
The first device to support the Snapdragon 835 isn’t a phone, tablet or even a Convertible laptop hybrid, no it’s a pair of AR/VR smart glasses that are well into development, so they may be first announced but I doubt they’ll be first to market.