Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 865 is a gaming and imaging beast


At Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii, the company officially pulled back the curtain on the Snapdragon 865 SoC which is poised to be the go-to option for most flagship smartphones in 2020. As you’d expect, the new chipset is faster and more efficient than its predecessor and will guarantee 5G connectivity for high-end phones since it will need to be paired with Qualcomm’s X55 5G modem.

Those interested in the performance of the new chipset will be pleased to hear that the SD865 uses Qualcomm’s new Kryo 585 CPU is 25% faster than last year’s SD855 while also improving efficiency while its Adreno 650 GPU manages 20 percent bump in graphics performance while reducing power consumption by 35 percent.

PC-like Gaming

When it comes to gaming, the Snapdragon 865 will support Desktop Forward Rendering which will deliver “desktop quality lighting and post processing effects creating a new level of realism for mobile games.” Qualcomm partnered with Unreal to bring the gaming engine to mobile devices. According to Qualcomm, the engine port from desktop to mobile was done without the usual sacrificed typically made to account for thermal constraints found of most mobile processors.

Qualcomm is also rolling out Game Color Plus 2.0 with the new chipset. Color Plus 2.0 will allow the processor to upscale games to the “HDR color space” it introduced with Color Plus last year without any real work needed from developers.

The final piece of the SD865’s gaming puzzle is its support for 144hz refresh rates, up from 120hz. While there are still very few smartphones equipped with 120hz displays, we’re sure that we’ll be seeing at least one or two devices with 144hz displays in 2020.

Pro Photography

Qualcomm has worked hard to re-engineer its Spectra 480 image signal processor (ISP), improving performance to 2 gigapixels per second while managing to reduce the clock speed and power consumption resulting in improved thermal efficiency. This improvement now allows the Spectra 480 inside the SD865 to capture continuous video at 960fps without overheating. With the previous processors, smartphones would only be able to capture a few seconds of video at that frame rate due to thermal constraints.

The chipset will also allow for 4K video capture at 240fps, 8k video capture and support for 200MP imaging sensors. Qualcomm has also added in Dolby Vision HDR support which is one of the most popular standards for HDR video capture in the film industry.

5G Connectivity

Like last year’s SD855, the new SD865 will use the same X55 5G modem. The model will be capable of delivering 7.5 Gbps download and 3 Gbps upload speeds with support for 5G implementations over mmwave, sub-6 GHz, TDD, FDD and DSS.

The processor will also support super wide band (SWB) audio over Bluetooth 5.1 and WiFi 6 with speeds up to 1.8Gbps.

Snapdragon 865 Availability

Samples of the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 have already bee distributed to the company’s partners, but the first commercial shipment of the SD865 SoC will not be available until the first quarter of 2020.

Motorola has already revealed that it will be unveiling a flagship smartphone with the new SD865 in early 2020, but we expect we will see the first real announcement during CES 2020 in January.

Nick Gray
I'm a life-long tech enthusiast who has a soft spot for HTC. After writing about tech for more than a decade, I jumped at the opportunity to take on the role of Editor in Chief at Phandroid. Please contact me at [email protected].

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