Qualcomm Announces Powerful 7nm Snapdragon 855 Mobile Chip And In-Display Ultrasonic Fingerprint Sensor

The time has come for a new generation of Snapdragon SoCs for mobile devices, and Qualcomm used its Snapdragon Technology Summit to announce its latest flagship chip. Meet the Snapdragon 855, which is the latest mobile SoC to be built on 7nm process tech (following the Huawei Kirin 980 and the Apple A12/A12X), and promises unmatched performance and efficiency for the scores of flagship Android phones and other devices that will launch in 2019.

Qualcomm isn't providing a lot of intricate details on the Snapdragon 855 today -- those specifics will come at a later date -- but the company has given us a few crumbs to munch on. For starters, artificial intelligence (AI) will play a big role with the Snapdragon 855, with its fourth-generation multi-core AI providing a 3x uplift in performance compared to the Snapdragon 845.

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Computational photography is becoming even more important in flagship phones, and Google's Pixel 3 family of smartphones has arguably used it to the greatest effect. The Snapdragon 855 will debut with the world's first Computer Vision (CV) ISP to not only bolster computational photography, but also to enhance video capture.

Complimenting the Snapdragon 855 will be the separate Qualcomm 3D Sonic Sensor. Qualcomm describes this as the world's first "commercial" ultrasonic under-the-display fingerprint solution for smartphones. We've seen similar implementations from Chinese OEMs like Huawei and OnePlus, but these first-generation implementations leave a lot to be desired with respect to speed.

Qualcomm's solution will be widely available to its numerous OEM partners which should help spread in-display fingerprint readers to more devices in 2019. In addition, the company says that its 3D Sonic Sensor will be able to detect fingerprints, even if there are "numerous contaminants" on the display, while providing high levels of accuracy and security.

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One final note about the Snapdragon 855: Qualcomm says that it will be part of what the company describes as Snapdragon Elite Gaming. The company didn't expound upon this other than to say that it will bring "next level gaming" to a new generation of smartphones. We'd assume that this will tie in (at least partially) to the new GPU that will be included in the Snapdragon 855.

Needless to say, we're excited to see what kind of performance we can expect from Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 855, and what its core-arrangement will look like. Once those details and availability are announced, we'll be sure to provide you with timely updates. We’re almost certain, however, that Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S10 will be among the first devices to employ the Snapdragon 855, in the U.S. and Chinese markets, along with the Snapdragon X50 5G NR modem.