Qualcomm Snapdragon 710: Better face unlock to hit mid-range handsets

Qualcomm has detailed its mid-range 710 mobile chip, and it’s packing camera tech that might finally allow face unlock technology to come to even mid-range Android handsets. 

The Snapdragon 700 series was first announced back at MWC 2018, but this is the first time we’re hearing the full details of the series, which will be debuting with the Snapdragon 710.

The most interesting feature is the inclusion of Qualcomm’s Spectra tech, which allows a smartphone’s camera to sense depth, opening the doors to being able to sense a user’s face and unlock their phone automatically.

It’s a similar technology to what we’ve already seen on Apple’s iPhone X, which uses Face ID instead of the traditional fingerprint to unlock the phone. However, the tech has so far not reached the same levels of security on Android, and hence its functionality remains limited.

We’re hoping that the widespread inclusion of this technology on mid-range handsets will create the demand for it to finally become a part of the Android OS, and become a standard to rival Face ID.

Battery and performance improvements

Elsewhere, we can see the kinds of performance and battery improvements that we’d expect from a new Qualcomm chip.

As well as improvements to its wireless connectivity (with an LTE modem that supports speeds up to 800 Mbps in addition to Bluetooth 5.0) and charging (thanks to Quick Charge 4+), the new Snapdragon 710 also supports 4K HDR playback — a first for a non 800-tier chipset.

We’re still skeptical that 4K will ever make sense on a mobile (outside of mobile VR use cases), but being able to process HDR footage should make for a much more vibrant and exciting viewing experience.

Battery life has also seen a big boost with a 40% and 20% reduction in power consumption for gaming and video streaming respectively (compared to the the Snapdragon 660). In effect this means that you should be able to record video for a massive four hours, or stream it continuously for 11.

All in all, the chipset paints a pretty impressive picture for what we can expect from mid-range devices launching later in 2018, but of course we’ll have to wait and see for what manufacturers make of the chipset before giving our final verdict.

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