Snapdragon 888 is official, Galaxy S21's chipset beats the iPhone 12 in key 5G specs

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UPDATE: Qualcomm has now shared more details on its new flagship chip, the Snapdragon 888. The SoC has been manufactured using the 5nm process, the same fabrication technology on which the Apple A14 Bionic and the Huawei Kirin 9000 are based.

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The chip features the Kryo 680 CPU which Qualcomm says is 25 percent more powerful and 25 percent more power-efficient than the previous generation. The primary core is based on Arm's Cortex-X1 design and it offers maximum clock speeds of 2.84GHz. It is accompanied by three Cortex-A78 cores and four Cortex-A55 cores.

The SoC embeds the Adreno 660 GPU and Qualcomm claims that it delivers 35 percent faster graphics and 20 percent improved power efficiency when compared to Snapdragon 865's GPU. 

Qualcomm also threw shade at competitors by claiming its chip is designed to sustain performance over long periods of time without running into throttling issues.

The Snapdragon 888 boasts up to three times performance per watt improvement when compared to the Snapdragon 865 at 26 trillion operations per second (TOPS). In contrast, its predecessor can perform up to approximately 15 TOPS.

The Snapdragon X60 5G modem is embedded within the chip and it is compatible with both mmWave and sub-6 GHz 5G networks. The chip also supports Global 5G multi-SIM, making it easier to have personal and work numbers on the same device.

The silicon also integrates the proprietary FastConnect 6900 Mobile Connectivity System and the San Diego colossus says it supports Wi-Fi 6 speeds of up to 3.6Gbps. The new Wi-Fi 6E standard, Bluetooth 5.2, and dual Bluetooth antennas are also supported.

On the AI front, we have got the 6th generation AI Engine which is mated with the new Hexagon 780 processor to uplift the performance of voice assistants and cameras, amongst other things. It is aided by the 2nd generation Sensing Hub that features a low-power AI processor to power use cases like screen awake, audio event detection, and activity detection.

Moving on to camera prowess, the chip comes with the new Spectra 580 ISP, Qualcomm's first platform with a Triple Image Signal Processor (ISP). It can capture from three cameras at up to 2.7 gigapixels per second simultaneously. This would enable smartphone owners to use 120fps burst snapshots or shoot three 4K HDR videos at the same time. The ISP also features a new architecture to help with low-light images. And lastly, there is also an option to capture photographs in 10-bit color depth in the HEIF format.

For gaming, the chip features the Snapdragon Elite Gaming tech and it also comes with a rendering technique called Variable Rate Shading (VRS) to increase rendering performance and quality by up to 30 percent. The silicon also boasts a new feature called Game Quick Touch that improves responsiveness by up to 20 percent to lower touch latency, something that would give you an edge in multiplayer games.

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The silicon also has many security measures in place to protect on-device user data, including the Type-1 Hypervisor that secures and isolates data between apps and the operating system. Qualcomm also teamed up with the photo and video verification platform Truepic to enable the chip to capture cryptographically-sealed images that are compliant with the Content Authenticity Initiative standard.

Android smartphones underpinned by the Snapdragon 888 are expected in the first quarter of 2021. 14 vendors including Xiaomi, Oppo, OnePlus, LG, and ZTE have already committed to using the chip, and since Samsung was left out of the announcement, we wonder if all Galaxy S21 models will be powered by the Exynos 2100.

The original story continues below.

If you thought that the Galaxy S21 series will be powered by Qualcomm's next generation Snapdragon 875 chipset, an heir to the 865 in the S20, you are sorely mistaken, as it will actually breeze through tasks with an even next-er generation processor, the Snapdragon 888.

Cool naming, eh? Qualcomm just announced the 888 at its Snapdragon Tech Summit keynote live stream above, paving the way for Samsung, LG, OnePlus, Sony, and other flagships phones as soon as next month.

New Snapdragon 888 features

  • 5G modem integration (longer battery life)
  • 5nm Qualcomm X60 modem
  • 6th generation AI engine on a new Hexagon processor
  • Fastest Adreno GPU graphics rendering on a Snapdragon ever
  • 35% faster image processor (120 pictures per second at 12MP)

Snapdragon 888 vs Snapdragon 865 vs Apple A14 vs Exynos 2100

For now, Qualcomm is mum on all of the Snapdragon 888 details, but the sheer fact that it ships with an integrated 5G modem gives it a leg up vs Apple A14 or Samsung's Exynos 2100, but not Huawei, which has been producing Kirin chips with 5G integration for a while now. 

To top it all off, the 5nm production process of the X60 modem means huge gains in battery life in your phone's 5G mode, something the iPhone 12 series badly needed at one point, as standalone 5G modems are battery hogs compared to integrated solutions like in Qualcomm's own Snapdragon 7-series midrangers.

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