Qualcomm Snapdragon 845: everything you need to known about the flagship phone chip

The Snapdragon 845 chipset has been officially unveiled, and it’s expected to feature in some of the biggest Android flagship smartphones in 2018.

It’s not just phones that the chip is destined for though, with it likely to find its way into tablets, laptops and VR headsets over the course of the next 12 months.

We’ve broken down all the detail to bring you everything you need to know about this next generation chipset that will set the scene for 2018’s smartphones.

Incredible HDR video and upgraded camera

Your next smartphone won’t just be able to display brilliant-looking HDR video, it will be skilled at recording in HDR, too, Qualcomm announced today.

For that reason alone, the new Snapdragon 845 chipset, which debuted at the company’s annual tech summit in Hawaii, is enough to make us excited for the best Android phones to come in 2018.

Starting with a completely redesigned image sensor processor, the chipset is poised to pave the way for giving users the power to capture HDR footage on a phone camera. It can also record 4K Ultra HD at 60 frames per second.

“The videos you capture are going to e more lifelike than they were before,” said Tim Leland, Qualcomm Vice President of Product Management. We’re going to see an increase in the quality of pixels, not just the quantity of pixels.

Just like the Snapdragon 800 was the first to capture 4K video in 2013, the 845 is going to be the first to have a sensor that soaks up 64 times the color data compared to standard sensors, going from 8 bits to 10 bits of color.

That’s what gives HDR content so much “pop” and you’ll be able to see the difference for yourself in 2018.

Qualcomm says it has substantially improved its algorithms, added multi-frame noise reduction and video at 720 in HD10 for 480 frames per second for slow motion video. 

ImMotion, something we haven’t seen before, will allow future smartphone cameras users to capture a mix of moving video and pause portions of the scene. Qualcomm illustrated this with a motionless girl staring at her goldfish moving about a bowl. The user will be able to edit thanks to new post-processing powers.

Why this is such a big deal

There are already smartphone screens that can show HDR Premium content, which, at the size of a smartphone is more important than the jump to a 4K resolution. You don’t have to look far to find a device with an HDR-ready display – the LG G6, LG V30, Google Pixel 2 XL and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 are all fine candidates.

The problem is that we’ve all been recording video without HDR, not making use of top-end phones with their equally top-end HDR displays, or our new HDR-ready televisions.

However, the new phones will change that. Equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset, a huge wave of HDR content is about to wash over, changing both the ways in which people can capture HDR video and view it.

What else can the Snapdragon 845 do?

You can also expect power advancements and battery life savings from the new chipset. Additionally, it’ll push high resolution depth-sensing in cameras that it powers, offering a three-fold performance boost compared in graphics compared to last year’s phones – yet it will require 30 times less power. That’s a big deal for Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.

The new Qualcomm chipset comes down to five pillars: immersion, AI, security, connectivity and performance.

When will we see the first Snapdragon 845 phones?

We don’t have a firm release date for phones powered by the Snapdragon 845 chipset yet, with Qualcomm saying that it expects the first devices to appear “in the first half of 2018.”

However when pushed, Qualcomm’s SVP of its mobile business, Alex Katouzian told us that we’ll “probably see announcements at MWC 2018“, which takes place at the end of February.

As for when those handsets will actually be available to buy, it’s likely to be sometime around March/April 2018.

However, since Samsung is still fabricating the chip, we may see it in the Samsung Galaxy S9, a phone that’s rumored to be teased at CES 2018. After that, expect adoption to catch on like wildfire.

  • We’re reporting live from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii, bringing you the latest news, features and hands on reviews on the future of smartphones, laptops, 5G and IoT. You can follow all our coverage here.