Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 Plus will speed up gaming and AI in high-end 5G phones

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 Plus will be in phones later this year.


Phones are gaining speed. Qualcomm on Monday unveiled its latest and most premium smartphone processor, the Snapdragon 888 Plus. The chipset supercharges the Snapdragon 888, which arrived earlier this year in premium phones like the Samsung galaxy s21.

Qualcomm has increased the processor clock speed of the Snapdragon 888 Plus – the brain of the chipset – to 3 GHz from 2.84 GHz in the Snapdragon 888. The improvement will allow phone users to perform more intensive tasks, like the video streaming and games. And Qualcomm has also increased artificial intelligence capabilities by more than 20%, making video calling and entertainment more immersive.

Device makers are working on more than 130 designs using the Snapdragon 888 and 888 Plus, Qualcomm said. The 888 Plus will be in devices starting in the third quarter.

“It powers deeply intelligent entertainment experiences with AI-enhanced gameplay, streaming, photography and more,” new Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon said during a virtual presentation at Mobile World Congress 2021 . “Everything is designed to bring the most premium mobile experiences to flagship Android devices across the world.”

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As the MWC takes place in person in Barcelona this week, most large companies have chosen to participate virtually instead of sending employees to Spain. This includes Qualcomm, as well as Samsung, Google, and Ericsson. 5G is expected to be a major topic of the conference, which typically brings together executives from handset designers, chipmakers, network providers, application and software designers, and various other mobile-focused companies.

The continued advance of 5G is more critical than ever now that the coronavirus has radically changed our world. Next-generation cellular technology, which boasts anywhere from 10 to 100 times the speed of 4G and rapid responsiveness, could improve everything from simple videoconferencing to telemedicine and advanced augmented and virtual reality. Few phones hit the market this year in the US without 5G and the ultra-fast millimeter wave version. has become standard in devices like Apple’s iPhone 12 line. While many consumers now have 5G phones, there is still no “killer app” that shows consumers what connectivity can really do.

Amon spent much of his speech at MWC, which Qualcomm showed reporters ahead of the conference, talking about Qualcomm’s efforts to push 5G beyond the phone. The company’s cellular technology is now used in PCs, cars, IoT smart devices, fixed wireless products, and infrastructure to power 5G networks.

“Qualcomm is really capitalizing on the opportunity we now have for our technology to go beyond mobile,” Amon said in a meeting with reporters ahead of MWC.

With the Snapdragon 888 Plus, Qualcomm has unveiled its second-generation 5G RAN platform for small cells. The technology will expand mmWave to more places indoors and outdoors, as well as new places around the world. And it will also introduce new lower-band 5G capabilities with small cell densification in public and private networks. Qualcomm’s new DU X100 5G accelerator card will enable operators and infrastructure providers to take advantage of high-performance, low-latency and energy-efficient 5G.

When it comes to phones, Qualcomm said more than 35 carriers and device manufacturers around the world are committed to supporting mmWave. The technology has super-fast speeds, but it’s not as reliable as the mid- and low-band versions of 5G. It can only travel short distances and is blocked by trees, windows and other objects.

Verizon has been the biggest supporter of mmWave while virtually every other carrier around the world has favored slower but more reliable versions of 5G. Even in the United States, mmWave is only present in dense parts of cities or in places such as sports arenas. But mmWave’s footprint is expected to improve, Qualcomm said.

“5G mmWave is often seen as a very US-centric technology,” Ignacio Contreras, senior director of product marketing at Qualcomm, said in a meeting with reporters ahead of MWC. “But if you look at the makeup of those companies that explicitly express their support… it’s anything but a US-centric picture.”

Connectivity will be in China, Europe, Japan, Korea, North America and Southeast Asia, Qualcomm said. China Unicom plans to deploy mmWave for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, while Oppo said it plans to launch 5G mmWave devices “in the near future”, possibly as early as next year, Contreras said.

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