Checking Out Qualcomm 5G Snapdragon 855 Smartphone Prototypes

855 family

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit is currently underway in Maui, Hawaii, and we are lucky enough to be in attendance. During this yesterday’s opening keynote address, Qualcomm officially announced its upcoming Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform and today the company provided much more technical detail on the platform. In addition to showcasing its own technologies, however, Qualcomm also brought out an array of partners to talk about the impending 5G wireless roll-out. Over the last couple of days, representatives from AT&T, Verizon, BT Group, One Plus, and Samsung all took to the stage and discussed their future devices and the complexity of the upcoming 5G ecosystems, covering everything from 5G network build-outs, to next-generation handsets.

855 hand

When the keynotes ended, however, demo areas were opened where Qualcomm and its partners allowed for some fairly up-close-and-personal looks at upcoming hardware. Among the demos, we caught a glimpse of a couple of Snapdragon 855-powered mobile devices from Samsung and Motorola, along with some of Qualcomm’s own proprietary hardware.

samsung 5g prototype front

We don’t have many details regarding the Samsung device, other than to say it features a Snapdragon 855 and is 5G capable. The device was docked and we were not allowed to pick it up or see it with the screen powered on. There was no branding discussed either – we were told to refer to it simply as a next-generation Samsung 5G prototype.

samsung 5g prototype back

It’s obvious just by looking at it that this Samsung device is not an early version of the Galaxy S10 or Note 10, but rather a qualification vehicle for the Snapdragon 855. Unfortunately, we don’t have any real technical detail, but thought you’d like to see the device nonetheless.

moto demo

Motorola’s demo featured a product that was announced a couple of months back, the 5G Moto Mod. As you may recall, Moto Mods are snap-on additions for the Moto Z family of smartphones, that bring new features and capabilities to the phones. The 5G Moto Mod actually has a Snapdragon 855, X50 modem, and quad Qualcomm QTM052 antennas.

moto mod 5g back   moto mod 5g front

qualcomm 5g antenna

Though the 5G Moto Mod contains a more powerful SoC than what is in the actual Moto phone, we are told it does not enhance the processing performance of the device at all. The Snapdragon 855 and X50 modem are strictly to add 5G connectivity. During the demo, the phone connected to the 5G network Qualcomm had built-out on site here in Maui, but performance numbers weren’t discussed. It turns out, the on-site network isn’t representative of what commercial 5G networks should be capable of and didn’t offer the high level of bandwidth users should expect when carriers starting lighting up their networks in the first half of next year.

855 test vehicle 2
855 test back

We also got our hands on a couple of Qualcomm qualification prototypes built around the Snapdragon 855. Again, we don’t have any hard numbers to share, but did get to poke around the phones briefly to see some of the specific technologies they’ll be offering in action. We saw all of the photographic image enhancement technologies at work, along with a WiFi 6 performance demo showing off the QoS with 8 Spacial Streams (SS), versus current devices with 4 SS capabilities.

855 wifi test

With the exception of the 5G Moto Mod, don’t expect to see either of the other devices pictured here to become actual retail products. These are prototypes designed for testing and qualification purposes. Regardless, it’s good to see actual hardware in action as we inch close to the new year and the impending 5G roll-out. And it's clear Qualcomm's next gen Snapdragon 855 silicon is very close to being ready for volume production.