Faster, smaller, more efficient: Snapdragon 835

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Already much speculated on, in the context of a Quick Charge 4.0-enabled flagship chipset for 2017 smartphones and also the silicon upon which 'Windows 10 on ARM' devices will be based (whether phones or tablets or netbooks), Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 has now been made fully official at CES 2017.

Snapdragon 835

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 (centre) is based on Samsung 10nm FinFET technology, and so is also a bit smaller than last year’s Snapdragon 820 (left)

The chipset comes with Bluetooth 5.0, an X16 LTE modem and Quick Charge 4.0 built-in. It also supports Ultra HD 4K premium video playback at 60fps with HDR10.

Here are the full quoted specs:

  • Kryo 280 CPU with four performance cores running at up to 2.45 GHz and four efficiency cores running up to 1.9GHz
  • Snapdragon X16 LTE modem with support for Category 16 LTE and Category 13 LTE upload speeds
  • 2x2 11ac MU-MIMO
  • 802.11ad Multi-gigabit Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 5
  • Adreno 540 GPU with support for OpenGL ES 3.2, full OpenCL 2.0, Vulkan, and DX12
  • Hexagon 682 DSP with HVX
  • Qualcomm All-Ways Aware™ technology with support for the Google Awareness API
  • dual-channel LP DDR4x memory at 1866MHz
  • Qualcomm Location with support for GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo, and QZSS systems
  • up to 32 MP single and 16 MP dual-camera with Qualcomm Spectra 180 ISP, 2x ISP, 14-bit, hybrid autofocus (laser/contrast/structured light/dual-phase detection AF), Qualcomm® Clear Sight™, optical zoom, hardware accelerated face detection and HDR video recording
  • 4K Ultra HD video capture @ 30 fps, up to 4K Ultra HD video playback @ 60 fps, support for H.264 (AVC) and H.265 (HEVC)
  • Ultra HD Premium™ ready, 4K @60fps, wide color gamut support, 10-bit color depth
  • Quick Charge 4
  • Qualcomm Aqstic™ WCD9341 audio codec with support for audiophile grade DAC with 32-bit/384kHz
  • 10nm FinFET technology
Qualcomm says:

Whether we’re VR gamers, budding photographers, or soccer moms, we expect our batteries to last. We expect our processors to handle new apps and games. We expect our cameras to take pro-level pictures and videos. In bad light. At a rock concert. We’ve come to expect a lot from our phones. We’re power users.

And as we embark on a new era of intelligent, connected experiences, our mobile devices are going to need a new, one-of-a-kind processor that’s smaller, faster, and more energy-efficient than any chipset in history.

Meet the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor. Qualcomm Technologies’ newest mobile SoC is designed to meet every one of these rigorous requirements while setting new standards in mobile performance. Using a new 10nm design with more than three billion ultra-efficient transistors, Snapdragon 835 is 35 percent smaller than its predecessor, the Snapdragon 820.

This pivotal size reduction and efficiency boost allow device manufacturers to design thinner premium-tier consumer devices (smartphones, VR/AR head-mounted displays, IP cameras, tablets, mobile PCs, and more) with larger batteries that run on less power and last longer. All told, Snapdragon 835 is engineered to use 25 percent less power than the previous generation, which means huge battery savings.

With these architectural improvements comes more space on the Snapdragon 835 to deliver significant improvements designed to drive tomorrow’s mobile experiences: ultra-fast charging and multi-day battery life, jaw-dropping AR/VR immersion, the most advanced camera capabilities, gigabit LTE and multi-gigabit Wi-Fi connectivity, and inside-out security — all of it complemented by machine-learning solutions designed to make our devices stunningly intelligent.

It then breaks down the chipset's capabilities by category - and it's amazing to see how much tech is now in the chipset rather than being on ancillary chips that manufacturers have to integrate:

Battery Life

This custom-built SoC is more efficient for today’s power user (read: all of us) who regularly streams music, uploads videos, takes conference calls, and plays VR games — sometimes all in a single day. There isn’t one type of processor for all applications, so Snapdragon 835 calls on the best components, including the Qualcomm Kryo 280 CPU, Qualcomm Adreno 540 GPU, and Qualcomm Hexagon 682 DSP, to manage separate workloads — all optimized by the Qualcomm Symphony System Manager to support superior thermals and long battery life.

Along with the new 10nm design, these multi-pronged, harmonized computing solutions bring unprecedented energy improvements. They include: more than one day of talk time, over five days of music playback, or over seven hours of 4K video streaming. Should the phone need more power, Qualcomm Quick Charge 4 is designed to provide five hours of talk time after five minutes of charging.

Immersive AR and VR

Snapdragon 835 builds on Qualcomm Technologies’ expertise in virtual reality solutions (for example, the Snapdragon VR820, which brings immersive virtual reality to mobile). Game-changing enhancements are at the core of Snapdragon 835, including immersive visuals, heightened sounds, and intuitive interactions, so what you see is now truly what you get. Designed to meet VR processing demands within strict thermal and power constraints, the processor offers 25 percent faster 3D graphic rendering and 60X more display colors when compared to the previous generation.

To generate true-to-life sounds, Snapdragon 835 supports 3D positional audio, superior SNR (Signal-to-Noise ratio), and native DSD format support for true high fidelity playback thanks to the latest Qualcomm Aqstic offerings. And for the most intuitive and comfortable user experiences on AR and VR, the new SoC is engineered to produce a 20 percent reduction, versus the Snapdragon 820 as implemented in the VR820, in motion-to-photon latency and six-degrees-of-freedom (or 6DOF) for precise, comfortable, and intuitive motion tracking. In addition, the processor supports Daydream, the Google platform for high quality, mobile VR.

All of these improvements are made possible by a heterogeneous computing approach that isolates different parts of Snapdragon 835 for audio, video, and motion functions, designed to deliver the best user experience and the most efficient processing. 


The camera is an indispensable part of our phone and lives. To meet the ever-changing needs of power users and allow us to create new mobile experiences, Snapdragon 835 introduces improvements to mobile photography, and video capture designed to deliver smooth zoom, advanced autofocus, and true-to-life colors.

Snapdragon 835 features improved zoom and stabilization for photos and videos by developing highly optimized software algorithms designed to toggle intelligently between processing sub-systems like the Qualcomm Spectra 180 ISP, Hexagon 682 DSP, and Adreno 540 GPU to deliver a smooth zoom experience. Qualcomm Technologies’ newest generation of video stabilization software, EIS 3.0, is engineered to provide superior 4K video stabilization through advanced yaw, roll, and rolling shutter correction.

Major enhancements have also been introduced to auto-focus. New support for Dual Photodiode (2PD) and updates to our hybrid auto-focus framework are designed to bring intelligent phase and lighting detection to devices, to make sure that power users never miss another important moment because of bad camera focus. And Qualcomm Clear Sight is engineered to fuse together images for improved sharpness, noise reduction, and dynamic range. 


Power users expect fast internet speeds. We want access to 360-degree VR video, cloud storage with speeds rivaling local storage, fast-caching of Hi-Fi music and movies, and the speed and convenience of instant apps — all without delays or quality degradation. Snapdragon 835 is designed to deliver each of these key experiences through the integrated Snapdragon X16 Gigabit LTE modem and support for 802.11ad multi-gigabit, as well as integrated 2x2 11ac MU-MIMO Wi-Fi, engineered to support a whole new class of experiences for power users, at home and on the go.

Supporting peak download speeds up-to 10x faster than first-generation 4G LTE devices, the Snapdragon X16 is designed not only to deliver peak download speeds that rival fiber optic cables, but also a more consistent user experience under a wider variety of signal conditions. The modem hauls in information with advanced 256-QAM digital signal processing, receives data on four antennas through 4x4 MIMO, and supports up-to 4X carrier aggregation.

On the Wi-Fi side, 11ad supports speed up-to 4.6 Gbps, extremely low latency, and up-to 5X lower power per bit performance compared to 11ac. The integrated 2x2 11ac MU-MIMO supports higher speeds even in crowded networks, and lower power consumption compared to its predecessor.

Additionally, Snapdragon 835 is the world’s first solution, supported through the companion WCN 3990 chip, to be certified for Bluetooth 5.0, improving overall speed, range, and capacity. This powerful combination of advanced LTE technologies as well as state-of-the-art Wi-Fi connectivity work together to support blazing fast speeds virtually anywhere you go. In terms of location services, Snapdragon 835 is engineered to deliver an up-to 30 percent improvement in accuracy for indoor navigation compared with Snapdragon 820, and up-to 50 percent reduction in power compared to traditional GNSS.


Power users require advanced hardware- and software-based security because mobile devices contain personal and valuable information used for sensitive transactions. The Snapdragon 835 Qualcomm Haven Security Platform is engineered to support three layers of security — at the processor, device, and system levels. Haven uses PINS and fingerprints to authenticate the user interface and eye- and face-based security to authenticate the camera. At the same time, Haven runs device attestation on the software, apps and OS, and hardware. The end result is a security platform designed to authenticate both the user and the device continuously and thoroughly, helping protect the reams of new information and transactions taking place on our phones.

Good to see chips getting more powerful, yet smaller and more power efficient, though don't hold your breath - at least not on AAWP - we're a year away from seeing this in production hardware, I estimate!

Source / Credit: Qualcomm