Each year brings us faster and faster phones, with Apple’s newest iPhone leading the charge. The most recent A-series chip is always faster than whatever processors Qualcomm, Samsung, and Huawei manufacture for their latest Android flagships.
But this year, Qualcomm is doing things a little differently, as the chipmaker just announced a brand new mobile flagship processor: The Snapdragon 855 Plus. The chip is targeting powerful mobile devices, with an emphasis on 5G, gaming, AI, and AR. It’s coming in the second half of the year, which has us wondering which devices might feature the new 855 Plus silicon. Will the Pixel 4 be one of them?
When the original Pixel launched a few years ago, it featured a slightly tweaked version of the Snapdragon 820 that shipped inside other flagships that year — Snapdragon 821 is what they called it at the time. However, the Pixel phones that followed didn’t get the same treatment, sticking with whatever Qualcomm chip was available at the time. Therefore, there’s no guarantee that the Pixel 4 will make the jump to the Snapdragon 855 Plus rather than making use of the 855 that powers the Galaxy S10, OnePlus 7, and Galaxy Note 10.
But Qualcomm explained in a press release that commercial devices based on the Snapdragon 855 Plus platform are expected in the second half of the year. The 855 Plus runs on a higher clock, supporting speeds of up to 2.96GHz. Also, the chip is getting a new Adreno 640 GPU that should deliver a 15% performance boost.
Qualcomm says the 855 Plus “is built for speed to support enhanced performance and deliver leading experiences in multi-gigabit 5G, gaming, AI and XR,” suggesting that the next-gen Android gaming phones launching this year will likely pack 855 Plus chips rather than the 855 that powers standard Android flagships.
The chipmaker also revealed the Snapdragon 855 Plus’s 5G features:
Snapdragon 855 Plus with an integrated multi-gigabit Snapdragon X24 LTE 4G modem also supports 5G connectivity using the X50 5G modem and Qualcomm Technologies’ RF Front-end solutions to deliver best-in-class cellular performance, superior coverage and all-day battery life in premium 5G devices.
Qualcomm makes no mention of actual OEMs that will use the 855 Plus, but one can safely assume companies like Razer, Asus, and Xiaomi are going to take advantage of the chip for their new phones.
But why shouldn’t other Android flagships also get the new 855 Plus? Google’s Pixel 4 phones, Samsung’s Note 10 or the OnePlus 7T could all use it, even though they aren’t gaming phones. OnePlus already released a 5G phone with a great display for gaming, and could easily launch a OnePlus 7T Pro 5G later this year. The Note 10, meanwhile, will have two 5G versions that could benefit from the 855 Plus. There’s no telling whether Google’s Pixel 4 phone will support 5G connectivity, however.