A glimpse into the smart­phone fu­ture

Sunday Star-Times - - Business -

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:

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