A glimpse into the smartphone future
key to all of next year’s new phone features.
So, by taking a closer look at what was announced at this week’s summit, we can get a very clear picture of what features to expect from all of next year’s smartphones.
5G: Unsurprisingly, 5G was the headline from the event. The new 855 chip will make 5G connectivity a reality for smartphone manufacturers. Which is massive news. But also totally predictable. So also a bit ‘‘meh’’. Rating: 8/10 orientation. That said, it’s a massive advance.
The new chip makes it possible to shoot a video that keeps the subject in focus while blurring the background. In 4K HDR video. At 60fps. With a 30 per cent smaller draw on power compared to shooting 4K at 30fps on previous chips.
You can expect this to be a big part of next year’s smartphone advertising campaigns. Rating: 9/10
Multiple voice assistants: I’m not sure if this one is a good thing or not. Mainly because I have trouble seeing the real-world benefit a single AI voice assistant brings to smartphones. So doubling, or even tripling, the number of available AI assistants has the potential to create three times as many problems.
Nevertheless, it’s the way the industry is going. And the 855 chip makes it possible. Expect phones to launch next year with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Samsung’s Bixby all competing for your love.
Linked to this, was yet another feature – voice recognition. And the benefits here are clear to see. Voice commands such as ‘‘Open Emails’’ would (a) quickly unlock your phone and launch your phone’s email app, and (b) respond only to the owner’s voice. Rating: 6/10 are the real winners here. Qualcomm says the 855 chip will allow developers to create HDR games for the first time, providing more colours and shades (over 1 billion) than ever before. But it’s impossible to notice the day-to-day benefits of this sort of processor speed boost. Rating: 7/10
Seven times better power performance for streaming video Ever since dumb phones evolved into smartphones they’ve suffered from the same genetic flaw. Poor battery life.
This chip improves performance in a very specific area: Qualcomm is claiming a massive ‘‘seven-times’’ power saving on H.265 and VP9 video streaming performance. Which means sites that use that codec, such as YouTube and Netflix, will all benefit from the boost. Rating: 8/10
Smaller chip Lastly, and perhaps most impressively, the 855 is built using 7-nanometer technology. To put this into perspective, last year’s flagship chip from Qualcomm was built on 10-nanometer technology. And the only other company to achieve this size in a mobile chip is Apple, with the A12 Bionic Chip featured on the iPhone XS and XS Max that launched in September.
A smaller central chip means more space for other specs. Which might mean the return of the 3.5mm headphone jack … but I fear that’s just wishful thinking on my part. Rating: