For instance, Apple continues to own Android phones when it comes to slow motion — 1080p at 240fps is still unreachable anywhere in the Android ecosystem — but the Snapdragon 845 gets phone makers closer. They’ll be able to get 480fps slow motion at 720p with HDR detail, which is pretty great (though 1080p slo-mo is still capped at 120fps for some reason). Better yet, Android flagships will be able to draw in 4K video at 60fps next year, which gives videomakers so much more to work with. Imagine an LG V40 with all of the V30’s video capabilities with the option to get 60fps 4K video. Amazing.
The takeaway: Cameras will only get better in 2018, and videographers are in for more than one treat.
This year, 2017, has all been about gigabit speeds. Next year, that’s not going to change much with the Snapdragon 845. Yes, theoretical maximum speeds will increase to 1.2Gbps, a 20% increase over the 835, but what’s more important, and impressive, is the availability of gigabit to additional carriers.
You’ll probably never reach gigabit speeds outside of a lab, but the Snapdragon 845 makes it more likely you’ll get closer more often.
This comes in the form of alternative combinations of bands to achieve those speeds; with the Snapdragon 835, carriers were limited to just two combinations; on the Snapdragon 845, that numbers swells to eight. Why does this matter? Because in the real world, carriers can’t just switch up or acquire new spectrum to cater to the limitations of a modem; they have made investments in spectrum and equipment and will wait until the phones support the technology combinations in which they’ve invested.
According to Qualcomm, over 90% of the world’s carriers now have the capability to offer gigabit speeds with just 10Mhz of licensed spectrum thanks to the growing support of unlicensed spectrum. Qualcomm’s LAA (License Assisted Access) solution lets carriers glob onto existing 5GHz airwaves — the same spectrum used by Wi-Fi routers — to offer additional capacity in areas that need it, like dense urban environments. The beauty of LAA is that these small cell sites — boxes deployed in large cities to add much-needed relief to low- and mid-range spectrum — can be reused in 2019 and beyond for 5G.
The takeaway: Chances are, your carrier is going to be able to offer gigabit LTE sooner than later.
Making biometrics suck less
Android phones have a mishmash of unlocking methods, from front and rear (and side) fingerprint sensors to iris scanning, face unlock, and more. Companies, including Qualcomm, have been promising alternatives for years, including under-the-glass finger identification that has eluded even the Apples and Samsungs of the world, but the Snapdragon 845 is more realistic than that: it merely wants to make biometrics suck less.
Specifically, it’s making the data less vulnerable to attacks, putting it in what’s called the Secure Processing Unit. This is a separate core from the rest of the SoC, with its own power and runtime components, and will store both biometric data and key data components like payment credentials, passwords and personal identification cards.
But the Snapdragon 845 goes well beyond that: Qualcomm recognizes that, despite Samsung being the only big name in the Android space to currently use iris scanning, the technology is poised to expand big-time. And with it, the speed and reliability of what is arguably the best alternative to fingerprint biometrics is going to increase many times over. We’ve already seen speed improve considerably on devices like the OnePlus 5T, but that particular solution makes no claims to security itself, just convenience. With the Snapdragon 845, companies can build unlocking solutions that cater to both.
The takeaway: More secure, faster biometrics? That’s good for everyone.
Totally wireless headphones that last
This one hits close to home. With the Snapdragon 845, Qualcomm is adding a piece to the Bluetooth 5 stack that allows certain music apps to communicate with totally wireless headphones independently, as opposed to relying on a “master” to communicate in real-time with its counterpart. This promises to not only cut down on battery usage but potentially eliminate the common issue where one earbud loses sync with its twin.
Qualcomm says that users can expect up to 50% improved battery life from these kinds of increasingly-popular headphones — without having to actually buy new ones. Pretty great if you ask me.