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The processor that will power the Galaxy S11 and Pixel 5 is official – everything you need to know

Published Dec 4th, 2019 6:50AM EST
Galaxy S11 Specs
Image: Zach Epstein, BGR

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With 2019 almost over, we don’t have any significant smartphone announcements left, as most vendors release new products in time for the busy holiday shopping season that starts in early November, several weeks ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The next batch of flagships will drop in February, before and during the upcoming Mobile World Congress edition in Spain. Phones like the Galaxy S11 series, the next Galaxy Fold generation, or the OnePlus 8 have already appeared in several reports this fall, with Samsung’s next Galaxy S model being the king of leaks so far. While we’ll have to wait a few more months for Samsung to announce the Galaxy S11 series, we do have one certain thing. The Snapdragon 865, the processor that will power many of next year’s Android flagship, is now official — and it doesn’t come with 5G on board.

The Snapdragon 865 was one of the expected announcements from Qualcomm’s annual Tech Summit, that’s now underway in Maui, Hawaii. Every December, Qualcomm takes the wraps off its new chips that smartphone vendors will employ in the coming year. The Snapdragon 865 is the obvious successor of the Snapdragon 855 and 855+, system-on-chips (SoC) found inside some of the hottest devices of 2019, including the Galaxy S10, Note 10, OnePlus 7 phones, and the Pixel 4.

Come next year, versions of the Galaxy S11 and Note 11 that will be sold in the US should also feature Qualcomm silicon, including 4G and 5G versions of the Snapdragon 865. The new flagship chip might not feature a built-in 5G modem, but it’ll be coupled with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X55 5G Modem and RF System inside next year’s phones that will support 5G connectivity. And the Galaxy S11 is rumored to include a few 5G-ready devices — the Galaxy S10 series only had one 5G model.

Image source: Qualcomm

Qualcomm said the Snapdragon 865, the chip in the middle in the image above, is “the world’s most advanced 5G platform,” promising “unmatched connectivity,” according to VentureBeat. As for the X55, the 5G modem will deliver “truly global 5G” support.

When it comes to performance, the Snapdragon 865 should support 8K video capture and gigapixel image processing speeds. The chip will also include a fifth-gen AI engine with natural language processing abilities and 15 trillion operations per second (TOPS) speeds.

Qualcomm, however, did not reveal all the chip’s capabilities on the first day. Nor did it name any partners. But considering what happened with its predecessors, the new processor will likely power the OnePlus 8 and Pixel 5 phones of next year, as well as plenty of other high-end handsets.

What is interesting to note is that MediaTek a few days ago unveiled its own high-end SoC for next-gen flagship devices, the Dimensity 1000, which comes with an integrated 5G modem. On paper, the chip looks like a Snapdragon 865 competitor, although it’s still unclear whether MediaTek will be able to steal any customers from Qualcomm with its new high-end hardware.

Qualcomm, meanwhile, will reveal more Snapdragon 865 specs this week that should give us a better idea of what to expect from 2020 flagship handsets.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.