The Snapdragon 865 chipset is equipped with 5G, according to Qualcomm, and will power the next flagship Android phones from the beginning of 2020. It's almost certainly at the heart of the Samsung Galaxy S11, Grade 11, LG G9, OnePlus 8, Google Pixel 5, etc., although the official list of Snapdragon 865 phones will have to wait – probably until MWC 2020.  Qualcomm's 5G-enabled chipset unveiled at its annual launch The Snapdragon Tech Summit in Hawaii gives you an idea of what you expect from your smartphone next year. It will be found on most top-tier phones – with the exception of Huawei phones and Apple iPhones.
But also iPhone owners should pay attention to the new features of Snapdragon 865. Qualcomm's roadmap often shapes the evolution of the mobile device industry, and we know that Qualcomm's modems are now being used in the 5G iPhone.
Snapdragon 865 features focus on extending 5G speed, doubling gaming performance, and improving photo and video quality on many, many cameras used by smartphones today.
Snapdragon 865 Specifications
Qualcomm is touting the Snapdragon 865 specifications for a new Cryo 585 CPU architecture, Adreno 650 GPU, Hexagon 698 processor and sensor hub.
According to Qualcomm, the CPU can run up to 2.84 GHz, and the GPU should provide 20% faster graphics rendering. We'll be doing Snapdragon 865 benchmark testing shortly to confirm these numbers.
However, the key feature of the Snapdragon 865 datasheet is its 35% increase in energy efficiency for intense tasks such as gaming. As powerful GPUs have become in smartphones, the peak performance only lasts until throttling begins. According to Qualcomm, the new 865 chip wants to stay ahead of the pack.
Snapdragon 865 has 5G, but without integration
The Snapdragon 865 drives 5G in two ways: it's faster with download speeds of up to 7.5 Gbps, and will be available on more smartphones in 2020.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon X55 5G modem achieves these top download speeds over mmWave and sub-6 standards, the backbone of 5G. However, tricks such as Dynamic Spectrum Sharing are also used, combining the 5G and 4G spectrum for faster throughput.
The upload speed should also be improved and reach 3Gbps under ideal 5G conditions. This is something we have not seen from network operators in our 5G speed tests in the US, as the hype about uplink speed has been causing a good download speed for a long time.
Interestingly, the Snapdragon 865 is paired with the Snapdragon X55 5G modem as a separate chip. This means that the modem is not really integrated into the mobile chipset, but you also have no 4G with the Snapdragon 865.
This is more of a problem for smartphone manufacturers who need to consider the modem within the limits of their smartphone and also power it separately. However, this could affect the size and power consumption of the next smartphone.
The Snapdragon Tech Summit continues this week. So we will release more updates on the Snapdragon 865 and hopefully soon the first benchmarks of the chipset.
In addition to 5G, the improvements to the cameras are the most consumer-friendly benefits of the Snapdragon 865 chipset. You will notice an increase in both photo and video quality.
In particular, the Qualcomm Spectra 480 image signal processor increases the megapixel number to 200 MP. Note: It is really up to the phone manufacturers to use these great features, so you may not yet see 200 megapixel smartphones. We saw Samsung in its first year, when the Exynos chip, which was used in some regions for the Galaxy S10 and the Note 10, forced HDR video data acquisition, maintaining parity, and not having that feature.
When it comes to video, we'll see 8K video resolution, a billion shades, and support for the HGL format and Dolby Vision captured in real time.
Capturing Dolby Vision will be important simply because other phones currently have high-end screens supporting Dolby Vision's viewing. But recording will be limited to new phones – meaning your friends will see amazing footage and envy the camera phone.
Slow motion videos can be fun, but will be limited in 2019 – Super Slo Mo modes at 960 fps are often turned off after ten seconds. This will change in 2020 with unlimited super-slow motion video. You also see time lapse at 4K 120fps.