The Snapdragon 820 system on a chip (SoC) from Qualcomm would be the obvious choice of powertrain for flagship smartphones that will be coming out later this year. Apart from the usual performance improvements in CPU and graphics, the Snapdragon 820 features a new communication array designed to make LTE the de-facto communication standard for both voice and data. Here are some of the features of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset:
The X12 LTE Modem
The new X12 LTE modem can bond together three LTE connections using LTE-Advanced carrier aggregation and treat them like a single faster connection. For uplink, it can send data to the tower on two LTE connections simultaneously (using the carrier aggregation feature). The Snapdragon 820 is the first processor to offer LTE support for 4×4 Multi-Input Multi-Output (MIMO), designed to double the download throughput speeds on a single LTE carrier.
- Compared to LTE Cat 9 (450 Mbps) featured in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, LTE Category 12 provides 33 percent faster speeds at 600 Mbps.
- LTE Category 13 uplink speeds (up to 150 Mbps): At 150 Mbps, LTE Cat 13 is three times faster than upload speeds supported by the Snapdragon 810.
- LLTE + Wi-Fi Link Aggregation (LWA): The X12 LTE modem can even bond LTE and Wi-Fi links together to boost download speeds using LTE + Wi-Fi Link Aggregation.
Smart VoLTE/Wi-Fi calling
VoLTE is now considered the primary mode for voice calls over a 4G LTE network. The X12 LTE modem supports next-generation HD Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and Video over LTE (ViLTE) calling services. The modem is designed to choose automatically between LTE and Wi-Fi, depending on signal quality, end-to-end speed, and Internet reachability. This will ensure seamless switching of a call over Wi-Fi to LTE without dropping the call. That’s impressive, isn’t it? Moreover, it also support HD Voice over 3G connection.
LTE in Unlicensed (LTE-U)
LTE-U makes it possible for operators to offer LTE over unlicensed bands. This would allow operators to deploy small cells in areas with a lot of demand for LTE data. When in the range of a LTE-U small cells, phones equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 will be able to connect using at least two LTE connections; one in the operator’s regular licensed spectrum, and a new LTE connection in unlicensed spectrum. The two connections are bonded together using carrier aggregation to act like a bigger, faster connection.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 not only packs in support for Wi-Fi 802.11 ac/b/g/n with 2×2 MU-MIMO, but also has support the latest Wi-Fi 802.11 ad — which supports multi-gigabit speeds. The peak rate of 2×2 80 MHz Wi-Fi ac is up to 867 Mbps, while the Wi-Fi ad standard has a peak rate is up to 4.6 Gbps. We are talking about a wireless connection, which is as fast as one of the fastest wired connection available (USB 3.0). This makes it possible for carrying out 4K video streaming, peer-to-peer large file sharing, or a full backup of your device wirelessly within matter of seconds.
VoLTE in India
Like 4G was a new thing to us Indians a couple of years ago, VoLTE and Wi-Fi calling are still foreign to the Indian telecom space. Market leaders such as Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea are the only carriers considering VoLTE for the future deployment when device ecosystem becomes available. However, new entrant in 4G space, Reliance Jio, will be banking on VoLTE for voice support in its 4G network. The Lyf brand of 4G devices from Jio is said to support both VoLTE and Wi-Fi calling.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 will be released along with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 652. The Samsung Galaxy S7 is expected to be the first smartphone to be equipped with the Snapdragon 820. However, the Snapdragon 820 equipped variant of the Galaxy S7 is expected to be released only in the US and China. In India and Europe, the Galaxy S7 will be released with Samsung’s own Exynos 8890 chipset, which features a new-generation Shannon modem with Cat. 12/13 LTE connectivity as well, similar to the Snapdragon 820’s feature set.