The most powerful Qualcomm chipset yet, the Snapdragon 865

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chipsets are found in many Android smartphones and tablets because of the very fact that Qualcomm designs chips for budget, mid-range, and premium mobile devices. Every December, Qualcomm hosts an occasion they call the Snapdragon Tech Summit where they announce their latest high-end mobile platforms. This year, the company has two new SoCs to show off: the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865. The latter is that the successor to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 that’s found in most flagship Android devices released in 2019, and it features major upgrades in key areas like the CPU, DSP, ISP, and modem.

With every new addition to the Snapdragon 800 series, we see year-on-year improvements that are within our expectations. What makes this year different is that the rest of the industry is finally catching up and making use of the chips’ full capabilities. 5G connectivity is no longer just a talking point – it’s already available in many cities and supported by a handful of devices. High megapixel, multi-camera devices are becoming the norm – the 108MP penta-camera Xiaomi Mi Note 10 immediately comes to mind. High refresh rate technology is now mainstream in the mobile industry as many of the big players add 90 or even 120Hz panels on their latest devices. With the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, we could see devices in 2020 have even higher megapixel cameras, faster refresh rate panels, and faster network connectivity than we’ve ever seen before.

There are many big generational changes that Qualcomm is highlighting this year, but there are also a lot of smaller improvements we’ve spotted while digging through the Snapdragon 865 specification sheet. Here’s everything you need to know.

Disclaimer: Qualcomm sponsored my trip to Maui, Hawaii, to attend the Snapdragon Tech Summit. The company paid for my flight and hotel. However, they did not have any input regarding the content of this article.

To start off, here’s a table I put together that extensively compares the previous generation Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 with the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 865. The table is dense and might be hard to follow if you’re not already familiar with most of these terms. Below the table, I’ve divided my explanations of the year-on-year improvements and new features into multiple sections.


Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 (sm8150)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 (sm8250)
CPU1x Kryo 485 (ARM Cortex A76-based) Prime core @ 2.84GHz, 1x 512KB pL2 cache3x Kryo 485 (ARM Cortex A76-based) Performance cores @ 2.42GHz, 3x 256KB pL2 cache4x Kryo 385 (ARM Cortex A55-based) Efficiency cores @ 1.8GHz, 4x 128KB pL2 cache2MB sL3 cache1x Kryo 585 (ARM Cortex A77-based) Prime core @ 2.84GHz, 1x 512KB pL2 cache3x Kryo 585 (ARM Cortex A77-based) Performance cores @ 2.4GHz, 3x 256KB pL2 cache4x Kryo 385 (ARM Cortex A55-based) Efficiency cores @ 1.8GHz, 4x 128KB pL2 cache4MB sL3 cache
25% faster performance
GPUAdreno 640 @ 600MHz
Vulkan 1.1
Snapdragon Elite GamingVideo playback: H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC), VP8, VP9, 4K HDR10, HLG, HDR10+, Dolby Vision
Adreno 650
Vulkan 1.1
Snapdragon Elite Gaming with new Desktop Forward Rendering, Game Color Plus, updatable GPU drivers
20% faster graphics rendering
35% more power efficient
Video playback: H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC), VP8, VP9, 4K HDR10, HLG, HDR10+, Dolby Vision
DisplayMaximum On-Device Display Support: UHD
Maximum External Display Support: UHD
HDR support
DisplayPort over USB Type-C support
Maximum On-Device Display Support: UHD @ 60Hz, QHD+ @ 144Hz
Maximum External Display Support: UHD @ 60Hz
HDR support
DisplayPort over USB Type-C support
AIHexagon 690 with Hexagon Vector eXtensions and Hexagon Tensor Accelerator
4th generation AI Engine
7 TOPS
Hexagon 698 with Hexagon Vector eXtensions and new Hexagon Tensor Accelerator
5th generation AI Engine
Qualcomm Sensing Hub
15 TOPS
Memory4 x 16-bit LPDDR4 @ 2133MHz, 16GB
3MB system level cache
4 x 16-bit LPDDR4 @ 2133MHz, 16GB
LPDDR5 @ 2750MHz
3MB system level cache
ISPDual 14-bit Spectra 380 ISPSingle camera: Up to 48MP with ZSL; Up to 192MPDual camera: Up to 22MP with ZSLVideo capture: 4K HDR @ 60 fps; Slow motion up to 720p@480 fps; HDR10, HDR10+, HLGDual 14-bit Spectra 480 ISPSingle camera: Up to 64MP with ZSL; Up to 200MPDual camera: Up to 25MP with ZSLVideo capture: 4K HDR @ 60 fps + 64MP burst images; 4K @ 120 fps; 8K @ 30 fps; Slow motion up to 720p@960 fps (unlimited); HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Vision
ModemSnapdragon X24 4G LTE modem
Downlink: 2.0Gbps
Uplink: 316MbpsSnapdragon X50 5G modem
Downlink: 5.0Gbps
Modes: NSA, TDD
mmWave: 800MHz bandwidth, 8 carriers, 2×2 MIMO
sub-6 GHz: 100MHz bandwidth, 4×4 MIMO
Snapdragon X55 4G LTE and 5G multimode modem
Downlink: 7.5Gbps (5G), 2.5Gbps (4G LTE)
Uplink: 3Gbps, 316Mbps (4G LTE)
Modes: NSA, SA, TDD, FDD
mmWave: 800MHz bandwidth, 8 carriers, 2×2 MIMO
sub-6 GHz: 200MHz bandwidth, 4×4 MIMO
ChargingQualcomm Quick Charge 4+Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+
Qualcomm Quick Charge AI
ConnectivityLocation: Beidou, Galileo, GLONASS, GPS, QZSS, SBAS, Dual Frequency supportWi-Fi: Qualcomm FastConnect 6200; Wi-Fi 6 ready; 2.4/5GHz Bands; 20/40/80 MHz Channels; DBS, TWT, WPA3, 8×8 MU-MIMOBluetooth: Version 5.0, aptX TWS and aptX AdaptiveLocation: Beidou, Galileo, GLONASS, GPS, QZSS, SBAS, Dual Frequency supportWi-Fi: Qualcomm FastConnect 6800; Wi-Fi 6 certified; 2.4/5GHz Bands; 20/40/80 MHz Channels; DBS, TWT, WPA3, 8×8 MU-MIMO, OFDMA, 1024QAMBluetooth: Version 5.1, aptX TWS, aptX Adaptive, and aptX Voice
Manufacturing Process7nm (TSMC’s N7)7nm (TSMC’s N7P)

Amal Varghese

A lecturer by profession and an admirer of transitions. I love the way the technological world revolves around me from the introduction of an earpiece to the computing device in a space shuttle, every tiny detail amuses me. I try to put my fascination to words for all the fanatics of this evolution who are ironically hooked to its benefits anyway. Proud to be a part of this generation who saw a tape-recording cassette with 5 songs and a cloud streaming service with a zillion songs inside your pocket.

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