Typically, Qualcomm only releases one flagship chip per year. Take for example the company’s current top-spec processor: the Snapdragon 855. After getting announced late last year, it found its way into actual consumer devices earlier this March, first on the Galaxy S10, and then on pretty much every other high-end Android phone. But now, it seems Qualcomm is breaking tradition.
The new Snapdragon 855 Plus features refreshed specs including new Qualcomm Kyro 485 Prime CPU cores with improved clock speeds of up to 2.96GHz (from 2.84GHz on the regular SD 855), and a claimed 15 per cent performance bump for the chip’s Adreno 640 GPU.
Along with enhanced performance, the Snapdragon 855 Plus also comes with a number of previously introduced gaming improvements such as Qualcomm’s “Game Jank Reducer” that claims to reduce the jitter and lag you sometimes experience in mobile games, along with things like Game AntiCheat Extensions, and Game Fast Loader to help reduce the amount of time it takes to fire up an app.
The 855 Plus features support for Qualcomm’s 5G X50 modem so device makers will have the option of partially future proofing devices. However, the value of the 855 Plus’s 5G connectivity is somewhat questionable as Qualcomm hasn’t mentioned if the 855 Plus is compatible with its next-gen X55 5G modem, which supports both mmWave 5G (like you get with an X50) and sub-6Ghz 5G bands (which the x50 5G can’t do).
The inclusion of Qualcomm’s gaming features on 855 Plus make sense as Asus has already announced that it will include Qualcomm’s new chip in its upcoming ROG Phone 2. Unfortunately, because the ROG Phone 2's official debut isn’t slated to happen until July 23, aside from a new 120Hz (up from 90Hz on the original ROG Phone), there isn’t a lot of other info to go on right now.
Based on the timing of Qualcomm’s announcement, in addition to the ROG Phone 2, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the 855 Plus make its way into Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10, which is getting announced on August 7 and possibly a number of other flagship handsets set to launch later this spring like the Pixel 4.
While the 855 Plus doesn’t seem to include any game-changing upgrades, refreshing its flagship processor should add extra appeal to high-end Android phones released in the latter half of the year that otherwise would have had to make do with previously released components.
And with Apple rumoured to release a new A-series chip later this spring, a small bump in performance for the chips installed in competing Android phones certainly won’t hurt.