Qualcomm Tips Snapdragon 821 VR Support, Speedy App Loading

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Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 processor has been a huge hit, appearing in this year's flagship phones from Samsung, LG, and HTC. But its follow-up, the Snapdragon 821, has remained a bit mysterious. It was announced in July and confirmed in Asus's Zenfone 3 Deluxe phone (pictured), but we've otherwise heard little about it.

Today at IFA, Qualcomm gave some more details. Initially, it doesn't make clear why the company is bothering with such an incremental shift. The 821 has 5 percent better battery life, 5 percent better GPU speeds, launches apps 10 percent faster, and boots 10 percent faster than the Snapdragon 820, Qualcomm says. Those are differences to be sure, but they're less than the margin of error typically created by manufacturers' Android implementations.

There's one hint in the press release of something truly new. A "Snapdragon VR software development kit" specifically calls out Google's mysterious Daydream VR platform, the successor to Google Cardboard. We know Daydream will work on some Snapdragon 820 devices as well, because ZTE said months ago that it would work with the Axon 7, but maybe the Snapdragon 821 guarantees universal Daydream compatibility. The 821 also offers faster camera autofocus, Qualcomm says.

Snapdragon 821 will power phones over "this holiday season," it says. We'll be looking out for that, as the phones that will probably be most popular over the holidays—Samsung's and Apple's models—will not run Snapdragon 821. Will it appear in LG's V20, coming on Sept. 6? We'll have to see then.

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