The Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus brings a faster CPU and GPU, Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.2 support
At the 2019 Snapdragon Tech Summit, Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 865, its flagship mobile platform for 2020 flagship Android mobile devices. The system-on-chip has turned out to be the best smartphone SoC so far in 2020, beating the Exynos 990, Kirin 990, and the MediaTek Dimensity 1000L. It has been featured in acclaimed flagships such as the OnePlus 8 series, the Xiaomi Mi 10, the Snapdragon Galaxy S20 variants, and many more. Even though the Snapdragon 865 remains best-in-class in the Android smartphone market, Qualcomm has launched a mid-cycle refresh in the form of the Snapdragon 865 Plus. This follows the template of previous Snapdragon mid-cycle refreshes such as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus in 2019 and the Snapdragon 821 back in 2016.
The Snapdragon 865 Plus is a follow-up to the Snapdragon 865. The Snapdragon 865 has powered more than 140 devices (announced or in development), according to Qualcomm. The number is the highest number of individual premium-tier designs powered by a single mobile platform this year (although we haven’t seen most of these designs come to market just yet).
The new Snapdragon 865 Plus is mostly the same as the regular Snapdragon 865 with the exception of three points. Firstly, the Kryo 585 (ARM Cortex-A77) CPU’s Prime core is now clocked at up to 3.1GHz, up from the 2.84GHz clock speed of the regular Snapdragon 865. The 3.1GHz top clock speed finally matches ARM’s ideal projections regarding the Cortex-A77. Last year’s Snapdragon 855 Plus had increased the clock speed of its Prime core (ARM Cortex-A76-based) to 2.96GHz. The 3.1GHz clock speed of the Kryo 585’s Prime Core is the highest seen in any Snapdragon SoC so far. The rest of the CPU cores’ clock speeds are unchanged.
Secondly, the Adreno 650 GPU features 10% faster graphics rendering. This makes it apparent that Qualcomm has increased the clock speed of the GPU, but the specifics on this weren’t provided in the press release. Last year’s Snapdragon 855 Plus also featured 15% graphics performance improvements over the regular Snapdragon 855, so the level of incremental improvement is similar. It should be noted the 10% increase in GPU performance won’t be enough to match the Apple A13’s GPU, for example, as the delta in peak and sustained GPU performances will still remain too big for a 10% improvement in the Adreno 650’s performance to overcome. The upcoming Apple A14 is also set to widen Apple’s lead over Qualcomm here. On the other hand, the 10% increase in GPU performance will widen Qualcomm’s lead over its SoC competition strictly in the Android market, as none of the other SoC vendors have even matched the regular Adreno 650’s GPU performance so far. The Mali-G77MP11, the Mali-G76MP16, and the Mali-G77MC9 featured in the Exynos 990, Kirin 990, and the Dimensity 1000L respectively have all fared worse than Qualcomm in GPU performance benchmarks, showcasing inferior performance-per-watt as well.
Finally, and most importantly, the Snapdragon 865 Plus features Qualcomm’s new FastConnect 6900 mobile connectivity system for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. This was announced in May 2020, and the headline features it brings are support for Wi-Fi 6E (Wi-Fi 6 extended to 6GHz) and Bluetooth 5.2. The FastConnect 6900’s top Wi-Fi speeds reach up to 3.6Gbps—the fastest in the industry, according to Qualcomm. The speed improvements have been achieved thanks to the U.S. FCC freeing up 1200MHz of 6GHz spectrum for Wi-Fi. For more information, check out our launch article on the FastConnect 6900.
The Snapdragon 865 Plus also carries over the regular Snapdragon 865’s features, such as the full arsenal of Qualcomm Snapdragon Elite Gaming features, global 5G, and “ultra-intuitive” AI. It’s said to deliver desktop-quality gaming with first-to-mobile features such as updateable GPU drivers and desktop forward rendering, 5G gameplay at up to 144fps, and true 10-bit HDR gaming. Like the regular Snapdragon 865, the Snapdragon 865 Plus features Qualcomm’s Hexagon 698 with Hexagon Vector Extensions and Hexagon Tensor Accelerator, 5th-generation AI Engine, Dual 14-bit Spectra 480 ISP, Snapdragon X55 5G modem-RF system, Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+ charging technology, and more. It’s produced on TSMC’s second-generation 7nm DUV (N7P) process.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus will be featured in the next wave of flagship phones, including the ASUS ROG Phone 3 and the Lenovo Legion. Qualcomm says commercial devices based on the Snapdragon 865 Plus are expected to be announced in the third quarter of 2020, and we know that the first announcements will happen this month.