Qualcomm Bolsters Chip Lineup With Snapdragon 821

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Less than a year after Qualcomm unveiled its flagship Snapdragon 820 mobile processor, a successor is joining the lineup.

Well, not exactly a successor, because although the new Snapdragon 821 has 10 percent better performance than the 820, Qualcomm says it's not designed to replace the 820, which has only just started to show up in devices like the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the HTC 10.

Instead, the 821, with its 2.4GHz Kryo quad-core CPU, is more of a workaday pawn in Qualcomm's chess match to keep its commanding position in the mobile chip market. The company will offer it alongside the 820, and says it should start showing up in consumer devices this fall.

Few other details about the 821 were available, but since it's an 800-series processor, it's almost certain that its biggest feature will be support for virtual and augmented reality. Last month, Qualcomm announced that it added support for Google's Tango AR platform to the 820 and plans to extend that support to future 800-series chips.

With all Snapdragon 800-series processors able to run AR applications with few hardware or software modifications, consumers should see more Tango VR capable devices hit the market. Currently, Tango is only available on the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro.

We also expect the 821 to include the X12 LTE modem, which enables LTE speeds up to 600Mbps, as well as support for Wi-Fi calling that can seamlessly switch between Wi-Fi and cellular signals. Both of these features are also available with the 820.

One advantage the 821 may have is power management; Qualcomm hints that it's engineered to deliver "improved power savings," over current chips.

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