Today Qualcomm unveiled a little more about the upcoming Snapdragon 821 SoC. If it sounds like a slightly improved 820, you would be right.
When SemiAccurate first heard about the Snapdragon 821 we thought it would be the TSMC variant of the 820. We weren’t correct, like the 820 it is being fabbed at Samsung but is otherwise what we speculated it would be, a slightly faster and mildly tweaked 820. Officially there is a 10% CPU speed improvement to 2.4GHz, a 5% GPU performance improvement said to be from clock rather than architecture, and 5% power savings.
For the non-speeds and feeds category there are a few more updates starting out with faster boot and application launch times. This is claimed to be partially hardware, likely higher clocks and quicker turbo ramping, partially firmware, and a lot of software optimization at higher levels. In short the new chip comes with a new generation OS and software bundle that benefits from a year with 820 hardware in the wild. The OS for the 821 is said to be Nougat so a chunk of the speed probably comes from that too.
The feature set that benefits the user most is probably in the camera department, or at least the camera support department. Here Qualcomm updated the autofocus and the range finding hardware and software which should be user noticeable. Dual PD (PDAF) is just what it sounds like, dual Phase Detection Autofocus is said to speed things up and Extended Laser Auto-Focus Ranging extends the range at which it works..
So all in all what is the new Snapdragon 821? Take an 820, add 200 or so MHz, a bit more GPU top end, and a new OS, Optimize carefully around the arrows in your back from a year of 820s in the field, and add better imaging support. Do all of this at a lower power point thanks to Samsung’s process updates and off you go. Overall it isn’t something to dump your 820 device over but it does raise the bar a bit.S|A