What Qualcomm’s first 10nm Snapdragon 835 has in store for smartphone users

Qualcomm’s new 10nm SoC is much smaller in size but can deliver 27% better performance and 40% better battery backup than its predecessors


Keith Kressin, senior vice president, product management, Qualcomm Technologies Inc
Keith Kressin, senior vice president, product management, Qualcomm Technologies Inc

Leading mobile chip maker Qualcomm has unveiled its next generation flagship processor, called Snapdragon 835. This is going to be their first processor based on Samsung’s new 10nm FinFET technology. According to Samsung, the 10nm FinFET is built on an advanced 3D transistor structure compared to its 14nm predecessor and is likely to make smartphones faster and more powerful.

The Snapdragon 835 is likely to replace the existing line-up of Snapdragon 820 (used in LG G5, OnePlus 3 and Samsung Galaxy S7 US version) and 821processor (used in Google Pixel, Pixel XL and One Plus 3T) as the first choice for phone makers with stakes in the high end smartphone segment.

Though Qualcomm is the first chipmaker to adopt the technology it is not the only one that is going to take advantage of the new technology. Samsung may use it in its next gen Exynos SoCs too.

The power of 10nanometer

Both Qualcomm and Samsung claim that the 10nm chip can deliver 27℅ better performance than a 14nm chip, which is currently being used in all smartphones. A 10nm chip is much smaller in size compared to a 14nm chip, which means users are likely to see thinner smartphones or phones with bigger battery in the coming year.

Advancement in chips can go a long way in improving a phone’s battery performance. We have seen how well the 14nm based Snapdragon 821 processor optimises battery use on Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones. On a single charge, its 3,000mAh battery gives about 2 days of backup. Qualcomm claims that Snapdragon 835 will provide 40% more battery backup, which means higher battery backup irrespective of the size or density of the battery.

It also means better 4G performance, allowing users to enjoy full benefits of their high speed 4G connections.

Fast charging

Another highlight of the new chip is Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 4.0 feature which is 20% faster and 30% more power efficient than Quick Charge 3.0. For a user, this means five hours of battery backup on five minutes of charge. Qualcomm says that the Quick Charge 4.0 can charge a fully drained battery up to 50% in just 15 minutes though specific USB Type-C based adapters. However, this feature will only work with smartphones running Android Nougat (7.0) or higher.

Quick Charge 4.0 also comes with the third edition of Qualcomm’s INVO (Intelligent negotiation for Optimum Voltage) power management algorithm which will help devices determine the thermal level of the battery based on the processes running and will adjust the power levels accordingly.

Devices powered by Snapdragon 835 are likely to be announced in the market early next year, probably at Consumer Electronics Show (January) or Mobile World Congress (February). Samsung Galaxy S8 (US version) is more likely to be one of the first smartphones that will be driven by Qualcomm 835.

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