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Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 888 processor will power the Android flagships of 2021

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A first look at the chipset that will power 2021’s best Android phones

Qualcomm has officially announced the Snapdragon 888 at its Snapdragon Tech Summit, offering a first look at its next-generation flagship smartphone processor. The 888 will power the next wave of 2021 Android flagships from companies like Samsung, OnePlus, LG, Sony, and more.

In a first for the company’s top-of-the-line 8-series chipsets, the Snapdragon 888 is making a big improvement for 5G: it’ll finally offer a fully integrated 5G modem, unlike last year’s Snapdragon 865 (which required that manufacturers include a separate modem chip inside the cramped interior of a modern smartphone).

The Snapdragon 888 will feature Qualcomm’s X60 modem, announced earlier this year, which jumps to a 5nm process for better power efficiency and improvements for 5G carrier aggregation across the mmWave and sub-6GHz bands of the spectrum. Between the new 5nm architecture and the power efficiency gains from an integrated modem, the new chip looks to offer some substantial battery improvements when it comes to 5G.

In addition to the 5G improvements, Qualcomm also teased several other advances coming to the Snapdragon 888, including the company’s sixth-gen AI Engine (running on a “redesigned” Qualcomm Hexagon processor), which promises a big jump in performance and power efficiency for AI tasks. The Snapdragon 888 also will feature the “most significant upgrade in Qualcomm Adreno GPU performance,” though specifics on what kind of improvements are coming have yet to be announced.

Lastly, Qualcomm previewed new photography features that the Snapdragon 888 will enable, including the ability to shoot roughly 120 photos per second at 12-megapixel resolution, thanks to the updated ISP (which is up to 35 percent faster).

Per Qualcomm’s usual practice, today’s announcement is just a first look at the Snapdragon 888. A more comprehensive overview of the specs and improvements being offered with this year’s chipset will arrive in the Snapdragon Tech Summit’s second day of keynotes, on December 2nd. And given Qualcomm’s near-total dominance when it comes to providing chips for almost every major smartphone in the US, the debut of the Snapdragon 888 isn’t just a first look at Qualcomm’s latest advances: it’s a preview of what to expect from phones like Samsung’s Galaxy S21 lineup and other top Android phones for 2021, too.

We’ll have additional details on the Snapdragon 888 tomorrow as the summit continues, so check back for more information soon.