Fast Charge: New Snapdragon chip has me excited about phones again

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OPINION: I’ve recently become jaded about the latest smartphones. We’ve reached a signal where our pocket-friendly portables are so fast and fully featured that I’grand no longer peckish upgrades similar I used to.

Every yr, multiple companies brag about the performance upgrades of their latest telephone, but it doesn’t really interest me.

My Samsung Galaxy S20 Fe 5G features the now outdated Snapdragon 865 chip, and it’due south plenty fast enough for me to browse the web, watch videos or take photos without any noticeable lag.

Of grade, longer bombardment life is always welcome, but my phone’s too capable of lasting the day without requiring a recharge. Bombardment life is e’er an important consideration when buying a new telephone, but I wouldn’t rush out to upgrade my Galaxy S20 FE if its successors somehow manage to double that stamina.

Thinking dorsum over recent years, I can’t remember many new smartphone announcements that accept really excited me.

Microsoft and Samsung have probably come up the closest, with the Surface Duo and Galaxy Z Fold 3 thank you to the dual-screen and foldable designs. But improvident cost points and software teething problems rule out those phones from being a realistic selection.


So when I was invited to Hawaii for Qualcomm’due south launch of the new Snapdragon viii Gen 1 smartphone flake, my expectations weren’t sky-loftier. Equally expected, Qualcomm announced that its new chip volition see xx% faster CPU speeds compared to the previous generation, and a 30% faster GPU. There have too been improvements made to the power savings, potentially extending the bombardment life for future phones.

Qualcomm has also additional the peak download speeds for 5G connectivity to 10Gbps, but with the UK nevertheless lacking coverage for mmWave, we, unfortunately, can’t hitting those speeds.

In that location’s no doubt that these are impressive improvements for the next generation of smartphones, but they’re not quite substantial enough to make me eager to upgrade my current phone.

However, following the annunciation, Qualcomm invited me to diverse demos to check out new features that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip is capable of cheers to bogus intelligence and other clever upgrades.

The get-go demo showcased how AI is able to cake out background racket during voice calls. A Qualcomm employee demonstrated this past crinkling a crisp packet and banging on the table every bit he spoke into the phone. He then played back the recording, and similar magic, all I could hear was his phonation with no distractions. It was remarkable.


I’m also impressed with the new ‘e’er-on camera’, which allows users to log into their phone via face recognition without needing to touch or printing anything beforehand. A Qualcomm employee explained that this characteristic will also allow y’all to scan QR codes without having to wake the phone first. That should make the process of loading up a digital menu at a restaurant far easier.

The camera seems to have benefited from AI the almost this generation, as the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 flake allows y’all to record video with a bokeh event. A Qualcomm employee showed me this feature in action, and I was impressed by how like shooting fish in a barrel it was to activate. Only press a button in the camera app, and the telephone automatically blurs the background of your recording with a more intense focus of the person in shot.

Photos will generally wait better with the new Snapdragon chip, with improvements fabricated to dark mode, the outburst adequacy and auto face detection. Phones with the Snapdragon chip will be able to record video in 8K HDR likewise.

And then there’due south lossless sound over Bluetooth, ensuring that you lot can become CD-quality sound when using wireless headphones. You, unfortunately, accept to buy headphones that support the new Snapdragon Sound Engineering science in guild to benefit from this characteristic, only I’k confident that the technology will first popping upwards in enough of Bluetooth headphones in the well-nigh future.

Of class, specific phones do need to support the higher up features and that’due south not always a guarantee.


So as you tin run into, the Snapdragon eight Gen ane unlocks a lot of new features for future smartphones. Absolutely, there isn’t really a single killer function here that makes me desperate to upgrade my phone in 2022, but I reckon the accumulation of all of these features results in a smartphone bit that truly does feel like a pregnant upgrade on its predecessors.

But how does Qualcomm go this message over to people? It’due south easy to understand that a new fleck is faster than previous iterations, but it’s far trickier to explain how artificial intelligence will improve your phone. I posed this question to Jeff Gehlhaar, who leads Qualcomm’s AI software team.

“The value to the end user, I think, is a more immersive, magical, natural experience,” he said. “These things [new features] are beingness deployed because of devices like Snapdragon 8, and people just accept information technology for granted. They don’t even realise it’s happening.”

I think that’south a very good summary of artificial intelligence. It allows users to benfit from advanced features, such every bit noise suppression and video bokeh effects, by simply tapping a push button. And all of these features outcome in a more seamless experience for the user – like Gehlhaar says, information technology works like magic.

I’m impressed by how many new features the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 brings to the table, and I’one thousand excited by the prospect of discovering even more AI-based tricks that Qualcomm has upwards its sleeve. I may not personally need a faster phone, but I could definitely benefit from AI turning my amateur holiday snaps into something I tin can proudly publish on Instagram.

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