Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 845 chip will power all of 2018's big Android phones, and some laptops - Stuff

Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 845 chip will power all of 2018’s big Android phones, and some laptops

Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 845 chip will power all of 2018’s big Android phones, and some laptops

Mobile chip maker Qualcomm has announced its forthcoming Snapdragon 845 chip at its Tech Summit in Maui, Hawaii today. Details are still pretty light on the ground, but you can bet there’ll be more specifics as the even unfolds. Not that it matters too much, though. The big news isn’t the specs of the 845, it’s where you’re likely to see it: namely every major flagship Android phone, and a growing number of laptops.

Mobile processors in laptops? What’s the point for that you might reasonably wonder. For a start, if you think that means compromise, think again. Just look at Samsung’s eagerness to have the S8/S8 Plus/Note 8 double as desktop substitutes with its DeX Station, or Huawei’s similar eagerness to get consumers using its Mate 10 Pro as a portable desktop (with only a cable needed rather than a dedicated dock).

Heck, even the recent top-spec OnePlus 5T with its 8GB of RAM and — you guessed it, a Snapdragon 835 processor — makes many entry and midrange laptops look like dinosaurs. Phones have long been pocket computers, but computers haven’t been as good at connectivity as their pint-sized counterparts. Qualcomm’s hoping to change that.

The Snapdragon 845 will be paired with Qualcomm’s latest X20 LTE modem, which means that if your mobile network supports it, you’ll be able to get gigabit-speed connectivity, without running you battery life into the ground.

Qualcomm’s using this new chipset and modem alongside key hardware partnerships to drive what it calls the “always connected laptop”. And these devices aren’t just ideas, at its Tech Summit, Asus and HP both unveiled new laptops supporting the concept (albeit using the existing 835 Mobile PC chipset). Asus’s NovaGo and HP’s Envy x2 both promise more than 20 hours to a charge, and around a month of standby time.

The biggest challenge for Qualcomm isn’t going to be getting phone or laptop manufacturers onboard — every major Android smartphone released this year uses the Snapdragon 835, and Xiaomi has already committed to using the 845 in its next flagship handset — it’s going to be getting network operators to roll out the sort of connectivity needed for the always-on lifestyle it envisions to become a reality.

We’ll bring you more news from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Tech Summit 2017 as we have it…

Craig was Stuff magazine's editor until September 2019. He also provided tech analysis and commentary for TV stations like eNCA, CNBC Africa and BusinessDay TV, and radio stations like 702, CapeTalk, PowerFM, MetroFM and Classic FM. He now lives in New York, and is 5FM's tech correspondent for its (tech)5 segment that airs every Wednesday at 12h40. You can reach him on me@craigwilson.net

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