If there’s one constant in the world of Android phones, it’s that the top phones all use Qualcomm’s best Snapdragon processor. This year, that’s the Snapdragon 855, a powerful system-on-chip that we’ve already seen in the Galaxy S10, One Plus 7 Pro, LG G8 ThinQ, and a few others.
Naturally, we assumed that the premium handsets coming in the second half of the year, namely the Galaxy Note 10 and Pixel 4, would use the same processor. But that might not be the case. Qualcomm has announced a mid-year refresh to the Snapdragon 855 that it’s calling the 855 Plus. Because, you know, everything that’s better has a plus in its name these days.
The new processor is built on the same architecture as the 855, with a few tweaks for “enhanced performance and deliver leading experiences in multi-gigabit 5G, gaming, AI and XR.” That breaks down to two main improvements over the 855:
- Kryo 485 CPU Prime core clock speed at up to 2.84GHz
- Adreno 640 GPU at 585MHz
Snapdragon 855 Plus
- Kryo 485 CPU Prime core clock speed at up to 2.96GHz
- Adreno 640 GPU at 672MHz
As far as speed boosts, Qualcomm claims the Adreno GPU is 15 percent more powerful in the 855 Plus, which should make high-end gamers very happy. Additionally, the 855 Plus has a new “Elite Gaming Experience” that includes the Vulkan 1.1 Graphics Driver that is 20 percent more power efficient than Open GL ES. It also brings the 4th-gen AI Engine and the same 5G X50 modem as the 855, rather than the fully integrated 4G/5G x55 modem.
We don’t usually see mid-year refreshes of Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line processor, but it’s not unheard of. When the original Pixel phone launched, it had the Snapdragon 821 inside, which delivered faster LTE upload speeds along with a 10-percent speed and 5-percent GPU boost over the 820, which powered other premium Android phones that year.
The 855 Plus sounds like a bigger, though still modest, upgrade to the existing processor, so we’re looking forwards to getting our first look at at, presumably when the Galaxy Note 10 lands in August,.