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article imageQualcomm unveils new processor to power summer's top phones

By James Walker     Jul 11, 2016 in Technology
Qualcomm has unveiled an upgraded version of its popular Snapdragon 820 flagship mobile processor. The new chip will find a home in smartphones set to be launched over the next six months, iterating over the original and boosting performance.
Qualcomm processors power the vast majority of Android handsets so it's no surprise that a new flagship offering attracts some attention. The company is pitching the Snapdragon 821, announced today, as the follow-up successor to the Snapdragon 820, a processor used in phones including the Samsung Galaxy S7, the HTC 10 and the LG G5.
With the Snapdragon 821, Qualcomm is advertising a headline performance boost of 10 percent over the 820. The processor is based on Qualcomm's quad-core Kyro technology and is able to reach peak clock speeds of 2.4GHz.
Changes have also been made to the GPU, the chip responsible for powering the graphics in mobile games. The clock speed has been raised to 650MHz and further alterations may have been made. Details on the GPU remain light. It is expected to be the same Adreno 530 as the 820 used though, moderately revised for better performance.
The rest of the 821 remains the same as on the 820. Qualcomm hasn't changed other fundamental components, including the modem. It is still the X12 LTE, capable of supporting 600Mbps downloads, uploads three times as fast as other designs and Ultra HD voice calling.
The Snapdragon 820 has proved to be a popular processor. It is capable of powering intensive mobile gaming and virtual reality experiences without suffering from the overheating issues faced by its predecessor, the Snapdragon 810. Qualcomm said the 820's time isn't up yet. The 821 is designed to "complement and extend the competitive strengths" of the 820 rather than directly replace it.
"Building on the technology leadership introduced with the Snapdragon 820 platform, the 821 is engineered to deliver faster speed, improved power savings, and greater application performance, ensuring 821-powered devices keep pace with the growing performance demands of users to deliver the unmatched user experiences the Snapdragon 800 tier is known for," said the company.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
Qualcomm
The Snapdragon 820 has been installed in over 115 high-end smartphones and tablets. It has also been deployed in a variety of other ways, including as a processor for in-car navigation systems. The Snapdragon 821 is designed to "set a new bar" for performance across all these devices, ranging from mobile products to VR headsets.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 will begin to appear in devices from the second half of 2016. If you're looking to buy a premium phone in the next few months, waiting for an 821-equipped handset will get you the best performance offered by Qualcomm. Alternatively, phones with the Snapdragon 820 will soon begin to fall in price, giving you top-tier performance at reduced cost.
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