“The Snapdragon 675 SoC is built on three tenets: gaming, cameras and AI”
We’re seeing the rise of gaming-focused smartphones these days. So how about gaming-centered chipsets? Well, that’s what leading chipmaker Qualcomm aims to offer with its latest upper mid-tier SoC – the Snapdragon 675. Coming in as the successor to the recently-unveiled Snapdragon 670, the latest processor from the brand is more than just an iterative upgrade. Not only does it mark several firsts for the San Diego-based company, but also brings several flagship-grade features to the mid-budget segment.
First and foremost, the Snapdragon 675 SoC is targeted at gamers and hence promises faster frame rates and smooth gameplay along with better audio quality. In fact, the brand has gone as far as to say that its latest chip will reduce janks up to 90 percent when compared to Snapdragon 670. To achieve the same, the brand has worked with game engines like Unity and Unreal Engine 4 as well as developers of popular games such as Honor of Kings, PUBG and Knives Out. Furthermore, Qualcomm is also offering game optimisation tools like Snapdragon Profiler, Snapdragon HET Compute SDK and Snapdragon Power SDK to developers to ensure that their games work well on SD675-powered devices. The focus on gaming also improves the general performance of the device, as the brand claims up to 20 percent better music launch times, and as much as 35 percent boost in performance while browsing the web. For games, the improvement is said to be up to 30 percent in comparison to SD670.
Enabling these capabilities is the brand’s next-gen octa-core Kryo 460 CPU. The octa-core chip comes with high-performance dual Cortex-A76 cores tuned at 2GHz, while the remaining are power-efficient Cortex-A55 cores with a clock speed of 1.7GHz. The processor is combined with the Adreno 612 GPU, which promises better graphics rendering capabilities. The chipset also comes integrated with the X12 modem, new Hexagon DSP and support for Qualcomm’s Aqstic audio. Devices equipped with this chip can offer up to full HD+ displays. What’s interesting is that the Snapdragon 675 SoC is the brand’s first silicon with 11nm fabrication, which should ensure better power management as well.
For imaging, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 chipset is all set to enable the up-and-coming trend of triple camera-toting smartphones. The chip can support a trio of sensors, with the primary one capable of capturing telephoto images, the secondary sensor offering the capability of capturing a 2.5x wide-angle picture and the tertiary one clicking a super wide-angle image. This allows for optical zoom-like capabilities of up to 5x. Of course, you get the portrait mode as well, and the HDR capability stitches multiple pictures together to offer the best shot. The Spectra ISP also reduces noise in images. Specs-wise, the chipset supports up to 25-megapixel camera sensors. What’s really interesting is that the silicon is able to capture slow-mo videos at 480fps at 720p resolution without any limitation on the duration, as long as you have enough storage available on the phone. The SD675 SoC can also click 48MP snapshots. The SoC adds 3D face unlock capability with the front camera too.
The third highlight of Qualcomm’s latest is the AI capability, which is claimed to be up to three times faster than the competition. This allows the chip to offer features such as Style Transfer, letting users add artistic effects to their images (remember the popular image-editing app Prisma?). The SoC also comes with Aqstic Audio UI, which supports multiple voice assistants concurrently while utilising lower power.
Considering the SoC will be undercutting the Snapdragon 710 SoC, we asked Kedar Kondap, who is the Vice President, Product Management at Qualcomm, about how these chips are different. As per Kondap, “the SD675 is a follow-on to the Snapdragon 670 chipset and while it offers powerful gaming and imaging capabilities, the SD710 supports dual-band Wi-Fi and comes with better GPU as well.” We also asked him whether these gaming-oriented features would be making their way to other Snapdragon chipsets, and he responded saying “while some enhancements can be added, the SD675 has a lot of optimisations from scratch both on the hardware level as well as working with game engines to offer superior gaming experience.”
There’s no doubt that the Snapdragon 675 chip is an interesting addition in Qualcomm’s lineup, and we can’t wait to see what kind of capabilities smartphones powered by the chipset offer. We’ll have to wait until Q1 2019 as that’s when the smartphones using the silicon will be commercially available.
Disclosure: this writer attended the 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong on Qualcomm India’s invitation