Supercharged downloads are coming to 2016's flagship smartphones

Supercharged downloads are coming to 2016's flagship smartphones

Qualcomm revealed more details of its forthcoming Snapdragon 820 processor, slated to be housed in phones that are available in the first half of 2016. We already know the 820 will double device battery life, but what about the all-important connectivity that lets us download videos, upload photos and commune with the world around us?

According to Qualcomm, we're in for some sizeable boosts.

The Snapdragon 820 has peak download speeds of 600 Mbps, compared to the 810s's 450 Mbps, claims the chip maker. Peak upload speeds clocked out at 50 Mbps for the 810 - the 820 can hit 150 Mbps.

But what does this mean for users?

Sherif Hanna, senior manager of marketing (LTE-Advanced, SD820 Connectivity) at Qualcomm, told techradar that users are in for speedier download times (up to four times faster for large files) as well as higher quality downloads.

The jump in upload speeds is three times that of the 810, Hanna said, and users will particularly notice the boost when it comes to uploading photos and videos to share with friends and family. What's more, on video calls, users with a Snapdragon 820 will have a faster data rate, meaning the quality of their video will be better compared to someone not using a 820-equipped device.

Wi-Fi and LTE

As for syncing up to networks, the Snapdragon 820 features an upgraded X12 LTE Modem, which Qualcomm says offers the most advanced LTE, Wi-Fi and LTE/Wi-Fi convergence technologies in a System on a Chip.

The Snapdragon 820 serves up tri-band Wi-Fi, one of the more exciting features of which lets up to three users connect simultaneously without comprising speeds for any of them.

For the first time, Qualcomm is extending support for LTE in unlicensed spectrum with the 820, allowing users to hop on licensed LTE or unlicensed (LTE-U) seamlessly. LTE-U isn't widely available, but if you're at the airport and your carrier is operating an LTE-U small cell there, for example, your Snapdragon 820-equipped phone could make use of it.

Finally, the new Snapdragon will bring smarter Wi-Fi calling. Instead of automatically switching from LTE to Wi-Fi, or vice versa, during a video call, the chip will take a read of the Wi-Fi link and congestion on the network. If the connection is strong and congestion light, the chip will switch to Wi-Fi calling. If it's weak and/or there's a lot of network congestion, the chip will keep you chatting via LTE.

According to a Qualcomm spokeswoman, the company addressed power-saving concerns as it upgraded the chip's connectivity options, though we'll have to see how battery life fairs when we start using Snapdragon 820-equipped phones next year.

Qualcomm also announced two new chips, the Snapdragon 617, out next month, and Snapdragon 430, replacing the Snapdragon 410, available to OEMs next year.

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Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.