5 special new Snapdragon 855 features may land in the S10, which one gets you most excited?


Snapdragon 855 is out and could be the best thing that happened to your future Galaxy S10 this side of actually having a nationwide 5G network up and running at the time of its release. 

Qualcomm has scored plenty of firsts this time around and filled in the blanks on existing features like dual-frequency GPS and other nuggets, for what is shaping up to be the best all-around system-on-a-chip for Android phones next year. Here are 5 of those that come in addition to the increased speed, efficiency and "gigabit everything":

First with HDR10+ video and "true" HDR gaming


The newest HDR10+ format for recording and displaying high dynamic range video is barely a twinkle in TV makers eye still, but Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 855 is already supporting it on the system level so you can shoot like a pro. 

True HDR gaming is also a notable first, though you'd have to have titles that support for that as well. For now, marvel at the Physically Based Rendering support in the graphics department that allows devs to skin realistic textures like a breeze.


3D Sonic in-display finger scanner


The era of in-display everything is upon us, and the Galaxy S10 is widely expected to make finger scanners embedded in the screen itself a mass market phenomenon. Qualcomm is coming to the rescue here, as it will reportedly supply its superior second-gen ultrasonic reader to Samsung while at the same time now offering system-level support for faster readings and secure authorization info storage. 

The 3D Sonic biometric subsystem will learn your scan and improve on recognizing your finger patterns over time for faster readings, too. Check out the promo video of the first iteration which by now is able to pierce through a cover glass that is 1mm thick.


Dual-frequency GPS


While already present on the Xiaomi Mi 8 EE and Huawei's Mate 20 Pro with additional chips like Broadcom's BCM47755, Qualcomm is now bringing full dual frequency GPS support to all future phones with Snapdragon 855. That means they will be way more accurate in crowded cities with tall buildings or at highway interchanges. Android Nougat landed support for satellites outside of the U.S. GPS system, like the Russian GLONASS, the Japanese QZSS, the Chinese BeiDou, and Europe's Galileo constellations.

Android Pie, however, lets developers test and use extra measurements for more accurate positioning, like the ones from the accelerometer, or the barometric sensor for altitude. It also introduces the above-mentioned "dual-frequency" support, so that the GPS receiver can track more than one radio signal from each satellite, and on different frequencies at that. 

For the U.S. GPS system, those channels are L1 and L5, and that's what Snapdragon 855-equipped phones would support, greatly reducing GPS soul-searching and lock-in times, while improving placement accuracy, without having to tack on extra chips. Here's an exaggerated video of what dual-frequency GPS accuracy might be.



8K 360 VR video playback


The detail that is depicted in a virtual reality video depends on many variables - from compression to the VR device lens quality - but one thing is for sure - an 8K definition is better detailed than a 4K one, all other things being equal. Snapdragon 855 will be able to process 8K 360 VR video playback which a recent test on Galaxy S9 with Gear VR showed is superior to the usual 4K VR vids. It's still a niche usage, as we can imagine the size of those 8K videos but it's a cool testimony to the raw Snapdragon 855 power nonetheless. You can always use 8K VR streaming services like Visbit, of course, and here is the difference in detail you will get compared to the ones rendered in 4K.



4K portrait mode video bokeh


Snapdragon 855 has a new ISP (image signal processor), dubbed Spectra 380 which should usher phones equipped with the chipset in the era of computational photography that is already bestowed on Google's Pixels and Apple's iPhones with the A12 processor to a great success. Qualcomm says it's thanks to a so-called CV-ISP (Computer Vision Image Signal Processor) which also extends to video recording. 

The Spectra 380 ISP, for instance, can do video bokeh like on the Mate 20 Pro, blurring the background behind a person or an object by simulating a larger aperture, and render the video portrait mode in 4K HDR shot at 60 fps. Cool, and here is how the this works with the other 7nm Android system chip, Kirin 980.




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