Qualcomm has announced its next high-end flagship processor, aka the Snapdragon 865, at its annual Tech Summit in Hawaii. The Snapdragon 865 will replace the Snapdragon 855/snapdragon 855+ and you can expect it to power major high-end flagship phones, from the likes of OnePlus to Samsung, coming in 2020. But that’s not what the Snapdragon 865 processor will go down in history for.
Even though its predecessor(s), the Snapdragon 855/Snapdragon 855+, came with 5G support, the Snapdragon 865 is Qualcomm’s first high-end flagship processor built ‘exclusively’ for 5G phones. There’s a small caveat though, The Snapdragon 865 processor does not come with an integrated 5G modem. Rather, as The Verge reports, Qualcomm will be offering the Snapdragon 865 and a second-generation X55 modem as a ‘package deal’ to manufacturers like OnePlus and Samsung. Apparently, you can’t just slap on a 4G modem to it and make a 4G phone out of the new Snapdragon 865.
This is very similar and yet very dissimilar to the outgoing Snapdragon 855/Snapdragon 85+ that let manufacturers opt for 4G for their x, y, or z reasons, and also selectively pick the original X55 modem in case they were looking to build a 5G phone.
Having an integrated solution – modems, graphics and what have you – has many advantages, but more importantly, it doesn’t take as much toll on system resources and, in some cases, it is also more affordable. Not to mention, it’s going to take up extra space. While we’re still to see how all this pans out in an actual product, it’s a little odd that Qualcomm didn’t choose to go with an integrated 5G modem, at a time when it’s going all gung-ho about 5G.
What adds to all the oddity is that Qualcomm is also announcing the relatively more mid-tier and mainstream Snapdragon 765 and Snapdragon 765G processors alongside the Snapdragon 865 – both of which pack an integrated 5G modem. To put it simply, the Snapdragon 765 and Snapdragon 765G will truly support 5G out-of-the-box.
As opposed to Snapdragon 865-powered flagships, phones powered by the Snapdragon 765/Snapdragon 765G-powered phones are expected to hit the shelves sooner. This is because Qualcomm has already confirmed that phones powered by its mid-tier Snapdragon 7 Series 5G mobile platform will be ready for prime time by the end of this year – this was announced at IFA 2019.
Qualcomm has also previously announced that as many as twelve partner OEMs will be integrating Snapdragon 7 Series 5G mobile platform in their future 5G mobile devices – including Oppo, Realme, Xiaomi’s Redmi, Vivo, Motorola, HMD Global (for Nokia smartphones) and LG. Xiaomi’s Redmi sub brand will be among the first few OEMs to use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765 processor in its upcoming Redmi K30 – that's slated to launch in China on December 10.
We already know that the Snapdragon 7 Series 5G mobile platform will be based on a 7nm manufacturing process and come with “5G integrated into a SoC (System-on-Chip) and support all key regions and frequency bands.” Additionally, the upcoming platform is also said to bring “select premium-tier features, including next-gen Qualcomm AI Engine and select Qualcomm Snapdragon Elite Gaming features, to a broader audience.”
As is usually the case with all such Qualcomm announcements, the company will drop more ‘technical’ details about the Snapdragon 865 and Snapdragon 765/Snapdragon 765G processors in the next few days.