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Snapdragon 820 in a nutshell: Everything you need to know

Qualcomm officially launched the Snapdragon 820 yesterday in NYC, and here’s all of the facts on this new System-on-a-chip (SoC) including how it compares to 2015’s Snapdragon 810 and what phones will use it in 2016.

Many of this year’s big phones including the Sony Xperia Z5 family, OnePlus 2 and HTC One M9 were powered by the Snapdragon 810, which was a decent performer but also suffered from overheating issues in its early days – something Qualcomm thankfully fixed in later models. And 2016 is set to be a much better year for Snapdragon, with the launch of the new Snapdragon 820 promising better-than-ever performance, faster charging and impressive camera performance in our mobile phones.

What are the Snapdragon 820’s best new features and why is it better than the Snapdragon 810?

Better performance

The Snapdragon 820 obviously promises a significant jump in performance compared with the Snapdragon 810, offering twice the power and overall efficiency (thus overtaking Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Exynos chip). That’s great news if you like gaming on your phone, while allowing app developers to create even more powerful software.

Faster web browsing and media streaming

The Snapdragon 820 also supports ‘X12 LTE’, which basically offers 33% faster download speeds (up to 600Mbps) as well as 300% faster upload speeds (150Mbps). However, those are peak stats and your actual speeds will of course depend on your provider.

Longer battery life

Battery life is a touchy subject when it comes to mobile tech, but the Snapdragon 820 has several power-efficient features built in to conserve the battery’s charge. The processor can offload tasks more efficiently when needed, while there’s also support for always-on low power sensors and ultra-low power advanced imaging.

There’s no talk so far of how much impact this will have, but hopefully the updates will help to stretch a phone’s life up to two full days in conjunction with Android Marshmallow‘s efficient underbelly.

Faster battery charging

Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 is four times faster than standard charging and 38% more efficient than this year’s Quick Charge 2.0, found on the SnapDragon 810. So, at a guess, you should expect compatible phones to fully charge in just over an hour with the correct adapter.

Better phone cameras

Mobile cameras up to 28-megapixels are supported by the Snapdragon 820, which of course allows 4K video recording as with the Snapdragon 810. The new chipset can also automatically discard crap photos with the new Scene Detect feature, while the Low Light Vision feature helps to cut down on grain in dimly lit scenes.

What phones will use the Snapdragon 820 in 2016?

Some of 2015’s big hitters such as the LG G4 and Samsung’s Galaxy S6 shunned the Snapdragon 810 because of those thermal problems, but Qualcomm appears to have fixed those problems and the Snapdragon 820 should crop up in most of the big phones of 2016.

Samsung is rumoured to make a return to Snapdragon for the Galaxy S7, after crafting its own Exynos chipset for the Galaxy S6. You can also expect the next LG handset (LG G5, presumably) and Sony’s next round of phones to pack the Snapdragon 820.

Snapdragon 820 specs at a glance

The Snapdragon 820 uses a quad-core 64-bit processor (up to 2.2GHz) and Adreno 530 GPU, supporting cameras up to 28-megapixels and displays up to 4K Ultra HD. 

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