Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Benchmark First Look, A Mobile Powerhouse Emerges

Touring Qualcomm's Snapdragon Labs

Now that Snapdragon 835 SoCs and the platform itself is available to smartphone manufacturers (notably Samsung, which is reportedly ordering them en masse), Qualcomm is getting the word out about its new high-end offering. The company invited a number of tech journos to San Diego last week for a tour of the labs that have been sweating bullets of late to make the 10nm chip and related components a success.

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We took them up on the offer and trekked from one massive building to the next, starting with a tour of the Power Lab. Surrounded by test benches, director of product management Johnny John discussed the importance of reducing power consumption in the new chip and showed us a side-by-side comparison of the Snapdragon 820 and 835 processors, measuring power draw while running a VR test. Under load, the Snapdragon 820 drew 895mA, while the 835 pulled only 683mA. The 835 also hit about 960mA in a 4K test, while the 820 drew 1250mA.

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Snapdragon 820 Versus Snapdragon 835 Power Draw Test Under Mobile VR Load

Then it was on to the decidedly-different atmosphere of the Snapdragon Advanced Content Lab, where director of product management (graphics) Micah Knapp and director of product management (VR/AR) Hiren Bhinde showed off the tech in a suite designed for gamers.

Walk down this hallway…

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And you’re greeted by a fine Xenomorph specimen upon entering the main gaming room.

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Tablets sporting various Snapdragon SoCs line one wall…

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And VR headsets are readily available. Our hosts used a Power Rangers demo to show how using a phone’s cameras and sensors provides six degrees of freedom: forward/back, up/down, left/right, pitch, yaw, and roll. The Power Rangers may not be our favorite super heroes, but the VR demo made us fans every minute we were in the demo, which started in a cave. Once the new Power Rangers vehicles appeared, hopping in and activating them was matter of just looking at the right controls.

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Knapp and Bhinde also showed us Snapdragon Profiler, which helps developers assess VR game issues. The profiler recently got a shout-out from John Carmack, who mentioned using it to check out an issue with Pinball FX2 VR.

Qualcomm also showed off its Spectra Camera Lab, in which phones bearing Snapdragon chips are put through tests to account for varied lighting conditions, subject matter, and camera shake. Staff product managers Mike Mangan and Rob Lay showed us the lab’s equipment.

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To improve image stabilization techniques, the lab uses a machine that shakes the phone and allows for the recording of detailed information about the camera’s behavior and position.

concludeTo be continued...
As soon as Qualcomm began sharing details about the Snapdragon 835, it became apparent that the mobile platform would offer serious improvements over the company's previous gen 820/821 models. Still, without performance tests, it was hard to get a sense of just how different the Snapdragon 835 would be. Now that we’ve had the chance to test the chips for ourselves, and see some power consumption numbers, we’re impressed.

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And, it seems, we’re not the only ones. Smartphone makers have been quick to get ahold of the Snapdragon 835 for new models. HTC recently announced that it will be putting the Snapdragon 835 in a new flagship phone, and Samsung is prepping the Galaxy S8 and S8+ with the Snapdragon 835 onboard as well.

Stay tuned in the weeks ahead as we get Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 powered devices in for full testing and review...

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