Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 powers all the flagship Android phones in the US, and the chip maker is now giving it a bump with the Snapdragon 865 Plus, a slightly overclocked version designed to keep gaming phones on the cutting edge.
The Snapdragon 865 Plus boosts the 865’s single fastest core up to 3.1GHz from 2.8GHz, which Qualcomm says is a 10 percent performance increase. The GPU also gets a 10 percent bump, and the Wi-Fi system gets upgraded to FastConnect 6900, which supports the new Wi-Fi 6E spectrum and Bluetooth 5.2. The chip will appear in the new Asus Rog Phone 3 and an upcoming Lenovo Legion phone, Qualcomm says.
“Three years after the launch of the Lenovo Legion PC portfolio, we’re bringing our beloved gaming sub-brand’s core values of speed and powerful performance to 5G mobile gaming—where Lenovo Legion will be amongst the first to offer the new Snapdragon 865 Plus in our expanding family of gaming devices this year,” Lenovo’s Jerry Tsao said in a press release.
Really, this is small potatoes. What’s going on here is an intense, spec-related competition in Asia involving a bunch of dedicated gaming phones. It’s a whole sector that’s not a big deal in the US, largely because we prefer to play high-spec games on PCs and consoles, but more Asian users are mobile-only at home. Like gaming PC buyers, those gaming phone buyers are constantly trying to eke a few extra frames per second out of their devices, so a little bit of clock speed can matter.
Lenovo Legion PCs are popular here in the US—I own one myself—but a Legion phone is unlikely to come out in the US because Lenovo focuses on using Motorola as its primary US phone brand.
You shouldn’t expect the 865 Plus to appear in the Samsung Galaxy Note 20, whose Aug. 5 launch will be too early for the new chip.
This isn’t the first time Qualcomm has done something like this. The Snapdragon 855 begat the 855+, an overclocked version of the 855, which Americans mostly saw in the OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren for T-Mobile. But it also appeared in gaming phones like the ROG Phone 2, Black Shark 2 Pro, and Nubia Red Magic 3S.
While the 865 Plus will surely offer a performance bump for some late-2020 flagship phones, the mobile chipset story for the second half of this year will probably end up dominated by Apple’s A14, the chipset in the upcoming iPhone 12. We don’t know much about the A14, except that it’s going to pair with a Qualcomm 5G modem for the first 5G iPhones.
The Snapdragon 865 Plus phones will come out in the third quarter, with Qualcomm’s next major chipset presumably being announced this December for launches in early 2021.