Home / News / Mobile Phone News / Snapdragon 835 guide: Phones, specs, speed, benchmarks and more

Snapdragon 835 guide: Phones, specs, speed, benchmarks and more

by

Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 835 is finally upon us, so here’s what we already know about the chip, including Snapdragon 835 phones, specs, speed, benchmarks, and cores. Plus, all the latest news and rumours, including information on the very first Snapdragon 835 device.

(Update: 22 February 2017): LG is reportedly planning to include the Snapdragon 835 in the LG V30 later this year. Read on to find out more.

Snapdragon 835 background

In November 2016, Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 835, a brand-new top-end chip that will power many of this year’s most powerful smartphones. It replaces the Snapdragon 821 as Qualcomm’s flagship chip, and looks set to offer significant performance and efficiency improvements over its predecessor. That means the smartphones of 2017 are definitely worth looking forward to.

Read on to find out all about Qualcomm’s MSM8998 Snapdragon 835 system-on-a-chip.

Watch: Snapdragon 835 explained

Related: iPhone 8

Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 release date

We don’t have an exact release date for the Snapdragon 835, because that’s not really how chips work. Qualcomm is already supplying manufacturers with the chip, and they’ll be hard at work building it into their upcoming gadgets.

All we know for sure is that we’ll see devices containing the chip in the first half of 2017.

Speaking about the impending availability of the chip, Keith Kressin, SVP of Product Management at Qualcomm, said: “It’s going to be in a large volume of devices. Certainly it’s going to be in a lot of smartphones. But it’s not just going to be in smartphones. You’re going to see it in standalone VR and AR devices.”

“We’re in production now. We’re ramping high volume,” added Kressin, who confirmed that Snapdragon 835 devices would be landing in the first half of 2017.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 phones

We won’t know which phones will feature the Snapdragon 835 until individual manufacturers announce their handsets. But with the H12017 release window in mind, there are some clear candidates.

Both the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Microsoft Surface Phone are expected to carry the chip, according to rumours. And both of those phones are also likely to launch in the first six months of 2017, so they'll probably feature Qualcomm’s new chip anyway. After all, if the Snapdragon 835 is available, it would seem odd for a phone maker to opt for an older chip instead – with flagship phones, at least.

Throwing a spanner in the works is the LG G6, which is reportedly set to use the older Snapdragon 821 instead. That's because Samsung has reportedly bagged first dibs on the initial supply of Snapdragon 835 chips, shutting LG out of the market – if Forbes is to be believed. However, to remedy this apparent loss, LG is said to be planning to include the Snapdragon 835 in the LG V30 towards the end of 2017.

We’re also expecting other flagships like the OnePlus 4 and HTC 11 to launch in the first half of this year, so they’re all highly likely to use the processor. Regarding the latter, HTC's President of phones, Chialin Chang, suggested that the company was waiting for wide availability of the Snapdragon 835 before releasing a new flagship:

"Every time there is a brand new CPU with power that we can leverage, we're always at the forefront doing that. Some people are talking about the timing, but timing was determined nine months ago. This [the Snapdragon 821 inside the HTC Ultra U] is the best CPU out there. When the next flagship CPU comes, HTC will be one of the very first tier doing that."

He continued: "When we will look back, it will be clear why HTC introduced [the Ultra phones]. We want to have a couple of months of leadership before the next flagship CPU comes. But that will be in another period of time – not at MWC, Not for us or any other player, I can tell you that for sure. When the new CPU comes, HTC will have another flagship."

We've also seen a leaked screenshot (via China) that suggests the HTC will indeed use the Snapdragon 835 chipset.

The other caveat to all this is that the Samsung Galaxy S8 may only use the Snapdragon 835 in certain regions, as was the case with previous Galaxy smartphones. Don’t forget that Samsung also produces its own chips – the Exynos series. It’s highly likely that at least some Galaxy S8 units will feature Samsung’s own custom-built Exynos chips, rather than Qualcomm’s new fare.

snapdragon 3

Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 VR glasses

At CES 2017, Qualcomm announced the first Snapdragon 835 devices: the ODG R-8 and R-9 AR/VR smartglasses. Details were thin on the ground, but we did get a brief glimpse of the smart shades:

The R-8 has a 40-degree+ field of view and a HD resolution, while the R-9 offers a 50-degree field of view and a Full HD 1080p image resolution. Both devices will work with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon VR SDK, too.

"The premium Snapdragon 835 processor was designed from the ground-up to support new and innovative products and experiences beyond mobile phones, and it's great to see that the first announced Snapdragon 835 devices will be ODG's smartglasses," said Raj Talluri, senior vice president, product management, Qualcomm Technologies.

"Thermal dissipation on a heavy compute but small device is very difficult so higher power efficiency is a must," continued Talluri. "The Snapdragon 835 processor, with our unique SoC design expertise on a 10nm process node, enables ODG to meet their design goals and develop lighter, smaller and sleeker smartglasses that take advantage of the new processor's superior performance and power efficiency."

Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 cores, design, and specs

The big news about the Snapdragon 835 is that it’s Qualcomm’s first 10nm chip. The Snapdragon 821 and 820, by comparison, were built using a less efficient 14nm manufacturing process. The bottom line is that the 10nm design allows the Snapdragon 835 to be more powerful and more efficient than older chips.

But what does 10nm mean, and why is it better?

Well a chip contains a circuit and transistors. These transistors are like tiny electronic switches that allow computer systems – like the one in your phone – to get things done. The more transistors you have, the more things you can get done in parallel, i.e. at a given time. So generally speaking, putting more transistors on a chip will make that chip more 'powerful'.

So when chipmakers use the term ‘10nm’, they’re talking about a physical distance: 10 nanometres. That’s 1,000 times smaller than a strand of hair – or about the size of a few dozen water molecules.

The technical term for what this distance describes is called ‘device half-pitch’, but that’s a little opaque. What it really means is the distance between a feature on one transistor, and the same feature on the transistor next to it. It’s an easy way of describing how far transistors are apart, or rather how densely they’re packed together.

So transistors on a 10nm chip are more densely packed than those on an older 16nm chip, which means you can fit more transistors onto the circuit. And that, in turn, means performance can be improved.

It’s getting harder and harder to keep packing transistors more densely, so it was a bit of a race to get to 10nm first. Right now, both Samsung and Taiwan’s TSMC are able to manufacture 10nm chips. That’s why Qualcomm has enlisted Samsung to build the Snapdragon 835 using its new 10nm FinFET process.

snapdragon

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to work closely with Qualcomm Technologies in producing the Snapdragon 835 using our 10nm FinFET technology,” said Jong Shik Yoon, who heads up Samsung’s foundry business.

He added: “This collaboration is an important milestone for our foundry business as it signifies confidence in Samsung’s leading chip process technology.”

Related: CES 2017 news

Qualcomm has also confirmed that the Snapdragon 835 will use Qualcomm’s own Kryo 280 processors, with eight cores laid out in ARM’s big.LITTLE configuration. That means four of the cores will be high-power, low-efficiency cores that perform harder tasks, while the other four will be low-power, high-efficiency cores that handle more basic processing. This is the same setup we saw from the Snapdragon 810 back in 2015, and is quite similar to Apple’s latest quad-core A10 Fusion chip.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. The Snapdragon 835 is a system-on-a-chip, which means it contains more than just a processor. It will coming packing Qualcomm’s own Adreno 450, which has yet to appear in any other Qualcomm chip. It’s the successor to the Adreno 530, a 519.2GFLOPS (519.2 billion operations per second) GPU that was clickable to 650MHz. So we’d assume the Adreno 540 will be even better.

Finally, the Snapdragon 835 is tipped to feature one of Qualcomm’s newest modems – the Snapdragon X16. It was announced back in February, and supports Cat.16 LTE download speeds. Qualcomm describes this as “fibre-like”, but what it really means is a theoretical maximum download speed of 1Gbps. That means a 4K movie – estimated at 100GB average file size – could be downloaded in just over 13 minutes. And a Blu-ray movie, which averages at around 20GB, would arrive in a fifth of that time. Of course, simply having a Snapdragon X16 modem in your phone doesn’t guarantee such speeds; you’ll need a network provider that can cough up such speeds – and no UK networks currently do.

snapdragon 5

Related: Best Smartphones to Buy

Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 performance and benchmarks

So we know what sort of technology is in the Snapdragon 835, but how does it actually perform in practice?

Well until we get a chance to benchmark the chip, or get our hands on a phone with the Snapdragon 835 inside, we can’t say for sure. But we do have some fancy numbers from Qualcomm to get excited about. Qualcomm reckons that compared to the Snapdragon 821, the Snapdragon 835 will be able to offer either 27% higher performance or 40% lower power consumption, depending on how the chip is configured.

We have seen some early third-party benchmarks, mind. Back in January, the Xiaomi Mix EVO ran through Geekbench with a Snapdragon 835 on board, scoring 1,918 on the single-core test and 5,689 on the multi-core test. Then in February, a mystery device running the chip managed an even better 2,004 single-core score, and an impressive 6,233 on the multi-core test.

But the headline feature of the Snapdragon 835 is the introduction of Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 4, which should see charging times decrease by 20% compared to the old Quick Charge 3.0. In fact, Qualcomm says that for “typical premium phone users”, Quick Charge 4 will extend smartphone use by five or more hours with just five minutes of charging.

Speaking at the announcement, Alex Katouzian, Senior VP of Product Management at Qualcomm, said: “As mobile devices become more capable and feature-rich, people tend to use them more. That’s why consumer demand and awareness for fast-charging solutions is now at an all-time high. Quick Charge 4 addresses that need by providing up to 50% battery charge in roughly 15 minutes or less, so you don’t have to spend all day chained to your charging cable.”

Quick Charge 4 also supports both USB-C – the reversible connector we’ve seen on the Galaxy Note 7 – and USB-PD (Power Delivery), which is Google’s recommend USB specification for Android phones. And it also comes with the latest version of Qualcomm’s INOV, a custom-built power management algorithm. The new version comes with real-time thermal management that automatically sets the “optimal” power transfer level for your device. This should help stop phones getting too hot – if only the Galaxy Note 7 had it, eh?

Related: Best Android Phones 2016

Watch: Google Pixel and Pixel XL review

What do you think of the Snapdragon 835? Let us know in the comments.

Phil

December 1, 2016, 3:43 pm

Just so you know, you've made a mistake above. The SD820 was a 4 core whilst it was the 810 which was 8 core with a big little configuration. SD820 was 4xKryo cores.

John Smith

December 1, 2016, 5:11 pm

There are more mistakes, like the 820 and 821 being built on 16 nm, when they are built on Samsung's 14 nm. The biggest mistake is to claim that the Note 7 battery fires were real. They were a hoax, and that is a 100% FACT.

zn

December 2, 2016, 2:29 pm

On the topic of mistakes, the 835 will feature an Adreno 540, not 450!

Vicar_in_a_Tutu

December 10, 2016, 2:54 pm

I might as well add to the mistake spotting.

20GB is a fifth of 100GB, not a quarter.

A Peanut Butter Sandwich

December 21, 2016, 6:31 pm

Oh really? Samsung took a huge financial hit over a hoax eh?

Where is your proof?

santosh san

January 5, 2017, 5:49 am

No of cores are useless as long as the OS is dumb!!!

santosh san

January 5, 2017, 5:49 am

Another processor for dumb usage...
Y ???

Smartphones now have the same features that smartphones last year had...
There's absolutely no new feature added.

You cant really count speed & stuff to be new feature...

3G, 4G, 5G are only different in terms of speed & nothing else!!!

BattousaiHBr

January 28, 2017, 4:09 am

so you mean the single most important aspect of a smartphone, battery efficiency, doesn't count as a new and big improvement?
i'd take a processor with 20% better efficiency over a 20% faster one any day.

Jack Skellington

February 3, 2017, 11:33 am

Awe. Look at the cute troll trying to bate people in

comments powered by Disqus