Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 821 promises faster and longer-lasting phones


We already know the Snapdragon 821 is Qualcomm's next flagship smartphone processor, but now the company has detailed the chipset in full, highlighting improvements across the board.

Currently a lot of flagships (such as the HTC 10 and LG G5) use the Snapdragon 820, which is clocked at up to 2.2GHz, but the Snapdragon 821 pushes the speed up to 2.4GHz, representing a 10% improvement in CPU performance.

The GPU, meanwhile, has received a 5% speed increase over the Snapdragon 820, and the Snapdragon 821 can also boot up devices up to 10% faster and reduce load times by up to 10%.

These increases might sound small, but Qualcomm promises that phones using the new chip should offer smoother scrolling and more responsive browsing, so hopefully the improvements will be noticeable.

Built for VR

All that power sounds like it could help enable great VR experiences and Qualcomm has built the chipset with that in mind, bringing compatibility with Google's Daydream VR platform and promises of a superior level of visual and audio quality, for more immersive VR and general gaming experiences.

And as well as making phones faster the Snapdragon 821 should also help them last longer, with 5% more power savings than the 820, to extend battery life.

The new chipset is even set to improve smartphone photography, with support for extended laser autofocus range, for improved focal accuracy, and Dual PD, which offers faster autofocus speeds.

While the Snapdragon 821 seems positioned as an incremental upgrade over the 820 (given that it's only a small jump in number) it also sounds like it could offer a significant improvement, particularly in the VR space.

Big 2017 flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S8 may use the Snapdragon 830, but we could see some major phones launch with the Snapdragon 821 this year.

The new Nexus handsets for example are prime possibilities, as they're sure to support Daydream, and if nothing else there's the Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe, which is the first phone with the 821, alongside a meaty 6GB of RAM.

  • The iPhone 7 will use a different chipset