Super-powered gaming, graphics, audio and camera capabilities will all be coming soon
Smartphones have increasingly become a key part of our everyday lives, as we use them not just to communicate with friends and family, but to work, play and learn too.
The evolution of the smartphone (as well as the tablet) has been incredible over the last few years, and this is mainly down to some huge improvements in the amount of computing power put into these devices.
US chipmaker Qualcomm is responsible for powering the vast majority of Android and Windows Phone devices currently on the market, and TechWeekEurope was invited along to check out just how much the company’s most advanced mobile processor, the Snapdragon 810, can do at a special media event at Wembley Stadium this week.
Set to begin appearing in devices in the next few months, Qualcomm was able to show off the performance of the Snapdragon 810 using a series of mobile development platform devices, which are sent out to developers and manufacturers to provide a first impression of the chip. Both a 6.2-inch smartphone and a 10.1-inch tablet were on display, signifying the potential markets Qualcomm sees the chip supporting in the future.
Qualcomm says that more than 60 product designs featuring the Snapdragon 810 are currently in development, showing the huge breadth and potential the chip is offering to manufacturers.
For starters, we were shown the Snapdragon 810’s video and audio potential through a series of demos.
The Snapdragon 810 is able to support 4K Ultra HD displays, meaning more detail than ever before in images and video, but can also provide 4K video capture, as well as hardware based HEVC (high efficiency video coding) playback, offering superb clarity and richness of colour and detail.
As more and more of us use our smartphones as our primary camera, there has also been a growing demand for improving technology in this area. The Snapdragon 810 is able to support up to 55MP dual ISP lenses, offering unmatchable image quality and detail, and will also feature improved zoom capability thanks to a partnership with Corephotonics, which uses input from two lenses to combine multiple views into one highly-detailed finished image.
Lastly, thanks to Qualcomm’s partnership with audio experts Dolby, devices packing the Snapdragon 810 will be able to feature more realistic and immersive sound than ever. We were given a demo using Dolby’s Atmos surround sound technology, which provides richer, clearer audio – and will also ensure your phone calls are high quality as well.
Many of these features will also allow the Snapdragon 810 to offer some of the best gaming experiences possible on a smartphone. Qualcomm says that the chip can provide ‘console-quality’ gaming thanks to its improved computing and graphics capabilities, the latter of which is provided by the company’s Adreno 430 GPU, which provides 30 percent better performance than its predecessor using 20 percent less power.
We were shown several demos of games running off a Snapdragon 810-powered tablet MDP, including a specialist lighting demo (pictured above) which showed incredible advances in shading and shaping technology, creating more realistic images than ever before.
The company has also worked with leading game developers in order to maximise the gaming potential of the new technology, including a tie-up with Epic Games using its Unreal engine, meaning we could see some incredibly detailed and powerful games designed just for mobile devices coming soon.
As far as internet speeds go, thanks to its X10 LTE modem the Snapdragon 810 will support Category 9 LTE Carrier Aggregation connectivity, meaning that devices packing the chip will be able to experience download speeds of up to 450Mbps, a significant upgrade from the current market highs of around 300Mbps.
Qualcomm says that the new chip will also provide quicker application performance and improved power efficiency, and is its first to support both a fully-integrated 64-bit multicore ARM CPU and LTE-Advanced multimode modem. It will be available in either quad-core ARM Cortex A57 and quad-core A53 versions, both of which offer major power boosts over most device on the market today
Elsewhere, there is also support for wireless charging through Qualcomm’s specially developed WiPower technology. Devices can be simply placed on a charging unit (see right), with no need for wires, with speedier charging provided thanks to Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 feature, which should mean your devices will power up quicker than ever before. The company also foresees these charging pads being built into worktops, furniture or even public locations in the future in order to facilitate quick charging for all.
Safe and sound
Lastly, Qualcomm has looked to address the growing issue of mobile device security with a neat feature called Safeswitch, which looks to prevent the growing problem of stolen smartphones and tablets being hacked and made untraceable.
The tool, which allows a user to remotely access their device using a paired PC or tablet, sends an alert if someone else tries to get into the stolen unit, and also displays an on-screen alert warning about unauthorised access. Users will have to enter a five digit PIN to unlock the device (pictured left), and if this is entered incorrectly, the device will simply shut down, refusing even to boot, rendering it useless to any thief.
The best bit about Safeswitch, Qualcomm says, is that it is built directly into the hardware of a smartphone, unlike typical security software programs, which can be all too easily disabled or removed. Instead, Safeswitch will come included with the Snapdragon 810, meaning it is impossible to remove from the device, and ensuring the maximum level of protection for the user.
Bring the hype
So it seems that the Snapdragon 810 is set to offer a world of improvements to mobile users, be they fans of gaming, audio, or just looking for a faster device. It’s likely we’ll start seeing devices with the new chip arriving within the next few months, with some possibly announced next week at Mobile World Congress, so stay tuned to TechWeekEurope for all the latest news.
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