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The Snapdragon 888 has been announced by Qualcomm as their top-tier SoC (system-on-chip) which will be powering some of 2021’s biggest flagship phones.
This new chip was announced during Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit 2020. A yearly event organized by Qualcomm to unveil their latest chip technology for the next generation of phones.
Every smartphone is as good as its chipset, and what makes the announcement of the next flagship Qualcomm chipset exciting is the new features it will enable on future smartphones.
The previous snapdragon 865 was found in versions of the Samsung Galaxy S20 range, the OnePlus 8 series and other phones manufactured by Xiaomi, LG, Sony and more. This means the new Snapdragon 888 could well find its way into some of the biggest phones by these brands in 2021.
Snapdragon 888 features
There’s good news for mobile photographers, as the Snapdragon 888 chipset brings with it a host of new camera-related features.
One of the big additions is the triple ISP (image signal processor), which allows handsets to offer triple concurrency on their multiple cameras.
What does that mean? Basically, smartphones with the Snapdragon 888 will be able to capture three streams of 4K HDR video simultaneously. That could be three video feeds from the rear ultra-wide, wide and telephoto lenses for example, or video recording from two rear cameras and one front-facing camera all at the same time.
This could be especially useful to video editors, who will end up with three separate video files to edit from just one device.
The triple ISPs on the Snapdragon 888 can help photographers too. You’ll be able to take advantage of triple photo capture, giving you the ability to capture three images, from three different lenses, at the same time, at up to 28MP each with no shutter lag.
As with the video recording, this will produce three images from one device – with each one providing a slightly different perspective depending on the lens it’s from.
This ability allows three cameras to be running at once in the background too, so even when you’re only using one, it can instantly switch between them, so there’s no delays when swapping between, say, ultra-wide and telephoto.
Qualcomm has improved its burst capture technology on the Snapdragon 888, with phones packing the chip given the ability to capture up to 120 photos in one second, all at 12MP. Useful for anyone looking to shoot action or sports, and Qualcomm says this is 35% faster than the Snapdragon 865.
The Snapdragon 888 is also set to improve low-light photography, with a new architecture that’s able to capture shots in very low light, down to 0.1 lux.
There’s support for 10-bit HDR HEIF photo (and video) capture as well, allowing you to take photos in over one billion shades of color. You’ll be able to capture, save and display images in 10-bit, up from 8-bit previously.
As well as the triple 4K HDR video capture, smartphones with the Snapdragon 888 will also have the option to enable 4K video capture and playback at 120fps (frames per second), while computational HDR video capture allows for recording with extreme dynamic range – combining multiple exposures at 4K video rates. This will help not just for video recording, but also for video calls.
The Snapdragon 888 also allows photos to include a cryptographic seal, which confirms that they’re genuine photos rather than fake
Snapdragon 888 Gaming
Qualcomm with the interest of gamers at heart made an inclusion of Snapdragon Elite Gaming on the SoC. This helps to provide frames rates of up to 144fps. Qualcomm also claims it delivers the “most significant upgrade in Adreno GPU performance”. This is a claim we will definitely put to the test once the first smartphone sporting the new Snapdragon 888 launches in 2021.
There is also a new feature called the Qualcomm Game Quick Touch. This improves the touch response time by 10% at 120fps, 15% at 90fps and 20% at 60fps over the Snapdragon 865. Ensuring that your physical actions are translated instantly to the digital world.
variable rate shading
A new gaming feature also introduced to the Snapdragon 888 is the variable rate shading.
It’s the process of grouping pixels together, and shading fewer pixels, which is unnoticeable visually to the end user, but with 40% fewer pixels being shaded it frees up resources elsewhere.
This means we could well see bigger worlds, grander stages, and more immersive games, with it allowing for an up to 30% improvement in game performance. Previously this feature was only available on high-end PCs and consoles.
Snapdragon 888 also features support for Xbox Cloud Streaming, Google Stadia, and Amazon Luna, ensuring phones are well prepared for the increase in the game streaming sector.
Overall, Qualcomm says its new Adreno 660 GPU in the 888 offers 35% faster graphics rendering and 20% better power efficiency over its predecessor. Its Kryo 680 CPU meanwhile offers up to 25% performance uplift and up to 25% better power efficiency.
Both the GPU and CPU are also said to be able to sustain their performance for a long period of time – something which Qualcomm claims some rivals don’t.
Call of Duty Mobile, Fortnite and PUBG were all namechecked during the launch, so we may be seeing some specific improvements to those titles in the near future on flagship Android phones.
Snapdragon 888 AI
AI capabilities on the Snapdragon 888 has been improved on by Qualcomm, creating many possibilities for this chip. Qualcomm claims the chip will be able to process far more operations per second compared to its predecessors. Creating room for more intelligent features and better power consumption.
Powered by the Hexagon 780 Processor, which offers up a 50% performance improvement, 2x compute capacity and 3x performance per watt improvement (three times the amount of processing with the same amount of power) over its predecessor, there’s a lot for the sixth-gen Qualcomm AI Engine to work with.
5G and connectivity
The new Snapdragon 888 chipset features Qualcomm’s latest X60 5G Modem, offering better connectivity and more support for the next generation network around the world, including enhanced mm Wave support.
With this new chip in play, it is good to assume that most flagship devices to hit the market in 2021 will definitely be 5G enabled. Most manufactures are already headed there, but 2021 is expected to be swarming with 5G phones from every manufacturer out there.
The Snapdragon 888 not only comes with 5G, but also with a full conectivity. It is able to offer up Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.2 support with its FastConnect 6900 system.
Improvements have been made to the Qualcomm’s Sensing Hub. This gathers 5G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and location data to make your phone far more location aware. Providing better location readings and contextual awareness.
Snapdragon 888 Battery life
Qualcomm claims this new chip set will provide better battery life for users. Their claim is on the basis of the enhancements made to the power efficiency across the Snapdragon 888 board.
The eight-core Kryo 680 CPU is 25% more power efficient than its predecessor; the Hexagon 780 Processor provides a 3x performance per watt improvement and the Adreno 660 GPU is 20% more power efficient than the previous generation graphics unit.
However, how much battery life is expected from this chip was not clearly stated. This means the battery life will greatly depend on the integration of the Snapdragon 888 chip by each manufacturer on their phones. It also depends on what apps are included to run on their devices.
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Which phones will feature Snapdragon 888?
A handful of phone manufacturers have been confirmed to use the new Snapdragon 888 chipset in upcoming devices in 2021.
Those companies are; Asus, BlackShark, Lenovo, LG, Meizu, Motorola, Nubia, Realme, OnePlus, Oppo, Sharp, Vivo, Xiaomi, and ZTE.
Xiaomi has confirmed that they will be featuring the Snapdragon 888 in their upcoming smartphone. All signs point to the Xiaomi Mi 11. However, this is merely a speculation and has not yet be confirmed Xiaomi.
The list does not include Sony and Samsung, that doesn’t mean they won’t be making use of this new chip. We expect to see this chip in some of their devices since they have feature Snapdragon chips in some of their previous phones.
What happened to the Snapdragon 875?
We had originally expected the next cutting edge Qualcomm chipset to be called Snapdragon 875, following the company’s usual naming pattern. Instead, the company has changed its naming structure, name the new tech Snapdragon 888.
However, an explanation has not been given as to why the company changed its naming structure. It is therefore clear that there will not be a Snapdragon 875 as expected by most.
|SoC||Snapdragon 888 (SM8350)|
|Process||5nm EUV (Samsung)|
|CPU||1 x Cortex-X1 @2.84GHz (16% increase) 3 x Cortex-A78 @2.4GHz 4 x Cortex-A55 @1.8GHz|
|GPU||Adreno 660 (20% increase) (144 fps)|
|AnTuTu v8||880,000+ Points (rumored)|
|Camera||Spectra 580 ISP Dual Camera, ZSL, 30fps: Up to 48 MP Single Camera, MFNR, ZSL, 30fps: Up to 108 MP Single Camera: Up to 200 MP Camera Features: HEIF photo capture, 8K recording, 1080p slow-motion recording (960 fps), advanced AI camera filters|
|Video Capture||7680 × 4320 pixels|
|Memory||Memory Type: LPDDR5 Max Memory Size: 32GB|
|Features||Snapdragon Elite Gaming, HDR10+, Qualcomm Sensing Hub 2nd Gen, aptX, advanced AI|
|Connectivity||Network: 2G / 3G / 4G / 5G Multi-Mode Max DL (7.5 Gbps) Max UL (3 Gbps) Wi-Fi Antenna: 4-Stream (2×2 + 2×2) Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi 6 (a/b/g/n/ac/ax) Bluetooth Version: 5.2|
|Display Support||8K+ |
|Phones||TBA (Xiaomi Mi 11, Samsung Galaxy S30, and more)|