Get set for a choice of flagship smartphones with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 chip

High-end smartphones with the chip will be announced at Mobile World Congress, bringing faster speeds, 4K displays

Smartphones will get 4K video playback and unprecedented wireless speeds with Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 820, and users who want these high-end features should get ready for flagship handsets with that chip to be announced soon.

Many such smartphones with Snapdragon 820 will be unveiled at the Mobile World Congress trade show in early March, said Steve Mollenkopf, CEO of Qualcomm, on an earnings call on late Wednesday.

One of the highest-profile smartphones with the Snapdragon 820 could be Samsung's Galaxy S7, which will carry the chip in some models. In January at CES, LeTV -- which has undergone a name change to LeEco -- announced the LeTV LeMax Pro, which was the first phone with Snapdragon 820.

After MWC, more phones will be announced with Snapdragon 820, with the handsets becoming available in the second half. The Snapdragon 820 will be in volume manufacturing in the second half. Samsung is making the Snapdragon 820 chips.

Qualcomm is hoping for a fresh start the the Snapdragon 820 and wants to close the curtains on its predecessor, the Snapdragon 810 chip, which was considered a flop. Samsung dropped the Snapdragon 810 from the Galaxy S6 smartphone due to overheating issues.

Qualcomm had a rough last year after the Chinese government fined the company $975 million for monopolistic, anticompetitive behavior. The company is now licensing the Snapdragon 820 to a few Chinese handset makers.

The Snapdragon 820 will bring users a longer battery life and faster data speeds. The chip has an integrated X12 LTE modem with 600Mbps (bits per second) download speeds, and 150Mbps upload speeds. It also is the first processor to support LTE-U, in which data transfers can be sped up through licensed and unlicensed spectrum.

The chip supports multiband Wi-Fi and is the first to support WiGig technology, which is up to two to three times faster than the 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

The integrated Adreno 530 GPU will allow 4K video playback. Smartphones could have cameras up to 25 megapixels. The CPU can run at up to 2.2GHz in quad-core configurations.

The Snapdragon 820 is Qualcomm's first chip based on its custom "Kryo" 64-bit CPU design.

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Agam Shah

IDG News Service
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