7 key features the Snapdragon 845 will bring to 2018’s flagship phones

The new Snapdragon 845 chipset will feature in some of the biggest smartphones of 2018, and it brings with it a host of new features and improvements over its predecessor.

We've rounded up the 7 biggest features for you right here, so you can start getting excited about your next flagship smartphone before it's even been announced!

If you want a more detailed look at the new Snapdragon 845, check out our in-depth look at everything it offers.

1.  A secure island with vault-like security

Something new Qualcomm has added to the 845 is its Secure Processing Unit (SPU), a feature it describes as "a secure island" offering "vault-like security."

This SPU has its own microprocessor, own memory, own crypto engine and its own random number generator, and it sits on its own power island. 

If other parts of the platform are trying to attack or get info from the unit due to a hack, they're simply not able to.

What does it mean for you? The SPU offers a super secure way of storing your biometric data (fingerprint, iris, face, voice), payment details and other highly sensitive data, ensuring it's not accessible to hackers.

2. More power

As with every new generation of Snapdragon chipset, performance has been improved on the Snapdragon 845. It features an octa-core Kryo 385 CPU with four 2.8GHz high-power cores, and four 1.8GHz low power cores.

The high-power CPUs offer a performance uplift of between 25%-30% versus the Snapdragon 835, while the low power cores see a 15% uptick over the previous generation chip.

Qualcomm says that versus the 835, the new chip offers 30% better performance overall, while AI processing has been improved by a mammoth 300%.

Meanwhile, the Adreno 630 offers 30% better graphics performance and a 30% reduction in power over the previous generation.

What does it mean for you? Phones with the chipset will load apps and games faster, offer seamless gameplay while using less battery and provide enhanced artificial intelligent such as improved smart voice assistants.

3. Better battery life

Another key upgrade each year, and one that goes hand in hand with the power improvements above, is better power efficiency.

The Snapdragon 845 provides 30% better battery efficiency for gaming, video and XR (AR, VR, mixed reality etc) usage versus the 835 chip.

Real-life battery life improvements will be dependent on the size of the battery and the specs and software implementation on specific handsets, but the foundations have been laid for manufacturers.

What does it mean for you? 2018’s flagship smartphones should provide better battery life, and we hope that means they will all comfortably last more than a day on a single charge.

4. Superfast X20 Modem

As we march on towards 5G, mobile connectivity is being enhanced. The Snapdragon 845 comes with Qualcomm's new X20 LTE modem, which offers CAT 18 speeds of over 1 Gigabit per second.

Qualcomm says the X20 offers a 20x improvement in real world speeds over the X16 modem which came with the Snpadrgon 835. It's not quite 5G, but it's much closer than anything currently on offer.

What does it mean for you? If your network supports the latest in 4G LTE speeds, you’ll be able to download a two hour HD movie in just two minutes.

5. Brand new ISP

The Snapdragon 845 gives manufacturers the chance to offer the best cameras we've ever seen on phones.

It features Qualcomm's Spectra 280 ISP (image signal processor). It's the second generation ISP from the firm and it's been designed from the ground up to offer best in class photo and video, even if lighting is not ideal or there's a lot of movement in shot.

Qualcomm expects 2018's flagship handsets to score 100+ on the DxO camera benchmark test, the first time any phone will have hit triple digits.

What does it mean for you? Your smartphone snaps are about to get even better, with improved lighting, true to life colors and finer detail. 

6. Ultra HD Premium video capture

The Snapdragon 845 will power the first mobile devices that allow you to capture Hollywood quality premium videos with your phone.

You'll be able to record at 60fps at a Ultra HD Premium resolution which includes HDR10. 

What does it mean for you? You'll be able to capture 4K video with HDR10 on your smartphone which will look great.

7. A more personal assistant

Qualcomm has done a lot of work around AI (artificial intelligence) on the Snapdragon 845, making it smarter than ever.

The AI improves multiple other features, from face unlock and single camera Bokeh effects, to smarter voice assistants that can pick your voice out over others around you and respond to only you in a natural, conversational manner.

What does it mean for you? Our smartphone voice assistants will get smarter, they'll react quicker to our commands, they'll talk more naturally and they'll learn our voice more accurately.

And three it won't bring

A guaranteed headphone jack - While a few phones will keep the headphone jack, the likelihood is more manufacturers will ditch the aging port in 2018 in favor of going wireless. Qualcomm has upgraded the wireless offering on the 845, which means Bluetooth buds may need to go on your shopping list.

Multi-day battery life - While the Snapdragon 845 offers improved power efficiency, don't expect 2018's flagship smartphones to last three plus days on a single charge. The nightly recharge ritual will remain for now.

Flexible designs - rumors of foldable, flexible smartphones continue to appear online, but there's nothing from the Snapdragon 845 launch that suggests Qualcomm has planned for these new form factors.

  • We’re reporting live from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii, bringing you the latest news, features and hands on reviews on the future of smartphones, laptops, 5G and IoT. You can follow all our coverage here.
John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.