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Qualcomm announces the Snapdragon 765 with the Snapdragon X52 5G modem and support for 120Hz displays and 192MP cameras

Facing increased competition from MediaTek, Huawei, and Samsung in price and spec-conscientious markets like India and China, Qualcomm created a new Snapdragon 700 series of upper mid-range chipsets last year. The 700 series brings the best of Qualcomm’s premium 800 series but at a lower price point. The most recent iteration, the Snapdragon 730, even introduced a gaming variant to meet the growing demand of the mobile gaming industry. Now, Qualcomm is once again introducing a new member to the 700 series: the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765. The new SoC brings support for 5G connectivity, high refresh rate displays, and high-quality imaging to the mid-range price tier.

In India, China, and other parts of Asia, phone makers like Xiaomi, Realme, OPPO, Huawei/Honor, Vivo, Lenovo/Motorola, and Samsung are locked in a competition to see who can deliver the best specifications at the best price. The cost of the SoC, of course, factors into how low a brand can price their smartphone, which is why we see a lot of mid-range smartphones with Qualcomm’s latest 600 series SoC or one of MediaTek’s Helio P series SoCs.

In between this range and the premium flagship tier is where the upper mid-range devices like the Xiaomi Mi 9T, Realme X2, Redmi Note 8 Pro, Xiaomi Mi Note 10, Honor 9X, and Samsung Galaxy A80 come in. These devices have features that were previously exclusive to the flagship tier, such as 3+ cameras, an ultra high-resolution main camera, 6+GB of RAM, and very fast wired charging. With the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765, next year’s upper mid-range devices could have features like 120Hz displays, 5G network support, 12GB of RAM, super slow motion video, and more. Here’s how the Snapdragon 765 could make that happen.

Disclaimer: Qualcomm sponsored my trip to Maui, Hawaii, to attend the Snapdragon Tech Summit. The company paid for my flight and hotel. However, they did not have any input regarding the content of this article.

To begin with, here’s a table I made compares the Snapdragon 730 with the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 765. The table may be hard to follow if you’re not already familiar with most of the terms. Underneath the table, I have provided explanations of all the year-on-year improvements and new features.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 (sm7150-AA) Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 (sm7250-AA)
CPU 2x Kryo 470 (ARM Cortex-A76-based) Performance cores @ 2.2GHz

6x Kryo 470 (ARM Cortex-A55-based) Efficiency cores @ 1.8GHz

1x Kryo 475 (ARM Cortex-A76-based) Prime core @ 2.3GHz (2.4GHz on 765G)

1x Kryo 475 (ARM Cortex-A76-based) Performance core @ 2.2GHz

6x (ARM Cortex-A55-based) Efficiency cores @ 1.8GHz

GPU Adreno 618 @ 500MHz
Vulkan 1.1
Video playback: H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC), VP8, VP9, 4K HDR10 PQ, HLG
Adreno 620 (15% speed-binned GPU on 765G)
Vulkan 1.1
Video playback: H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC), VP8, VP9, 4K HDR10, HLG, HDR10+, Dolby Vision
Select Snapdragon Elite Gaming Features (765G only)
20% better performance and efficiency
Display Maximum On-Device Display Support: FHD+ @ 120Hz
Maximum External Display Support: UHD @ 60Hz
HDR support
DisplayPort over USB Type-C support
Maximum On-Device Display Support: FHD+ @ 120Hz, QHD+ @ 60Hz
Maximum External Display Support: UHD @ 60Hz
HDR support
DisplayPort over USB Type-C support
AI Hexagon 688 with Hexagon Vector eXtensions and Hexagon Tensor Accelerator
4th generation AI Engine
Hexagon 696 with Hexagon Vector eXtensions and new Hexagon Tensor Accelerator
5th generation AI Engine
Qualcomm Sensing Hub
5.5 TOPS (765G)
Memory Type: 2 x 16-bit, LPDDR4
Speed: Up to 1866MHz, 8GB RAM
Type: 2 x 16-bit, LPDDR4
Speed: Up to 2133MHz, 12GB RAM
1MB system cache
ISP Dual 14-bit Spectra 350 ISP
Single camera: Up to 36MP with ZSL; Up to 192MP
Dual camera: Up to 22MP with ZSL
Video capture: 4K HDR @ 30 fps video; Slow motion up to 720p@240 fps; HDR10, HLG
Dual 14-bit Spectra 355 ISP
Single camera: Up to 36MP with ZSL; Up to 192MP
Dual camera: Up to 22MP with ZSL
Video capture: 4K HDR @ 30 fps video; Slow motion up to 720p@480 fps; HDR10, HDR10+, HLG
Modem Snapdragon X15 LTE modem
Downlink: 800Mbps (4G LTE)
Uplink: 150Mbps (4G LTE)
Snapdragon X52 4G LTE and 5G multimode modem
Downlink: 3.7Gbps (5G), 1.2Gbps (4G LTE)
Uplink: 1.6Gbps (5G), 210Mbps (4G LTE)
Modes: NSA, SA, TDD, FDD
mmWave: 400MHz bandwidth, 8 carriers, 2×2 MIMO
sub-6 GHz: 100MHz bandwidth, 4×4 MIMO
Charging Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+ Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+
Qualcomm Quick Charge AI
Connectivity Location: Beidou, Galileo, GLONASS, GPS, QZSS, SBAS

Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi 6; 2.4/5GHz Bands; 20/40/80 MHz Channel; DBS, TWT, WPA3, 8×8 MU-MIMO

Bluetooth: Version 5.0, aptX TWS and Adaptive

Location: Beidou, Galileo, GLONASS, GPS, QZSS, SBAS, Dual Frequency support

Wi-Fi: Qualcomm FastConnect 6200; Wi-Fi 6 ready; 2.4/5GHz Bands; 20/40/80 MHz Channels; DBS, TWT, WPA3, 8×8 MU-MIMO

Bluetooth: Version 5.0, aptX TWS and Adaptive

Manufacturing Process 8nm LPP from Samsung 7nm EUV from Samsung

Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 SoC

CPU

The Snapdragon 765 features minor improvements in CPU performance compared to the Snapdragon 730. That’s because there aren’t any major architectural changes to the CPU cores. Instead, Qualcomm added a new “Prime” CPU core cluster consisting of a lone core clocked at up to 2.3GHz. There’s also a lone “Performance” core clocked at up to 2.2GHz. Qualcomm says these two cores are based on its customized Kryo 475 architecture, which is derived from the ARM Cortex-A76 design. Lastly, there are 6 ARM Cortex-A55-based Efficiency CPU cores clocked at up to 1.8GHz. Thus, the core cluster configuration of the Snapdragon 765 is 1+1+6 compared to 2+6 on the Snapdragon 730.

It is likely that the transition from an 8nm manufacturing process to a 7nm manufacturing process yields some improvements in CPU power efficiency, and thus, average performance.

GPU

Qualcomm’s new Adreno 620 GPU in the Snapdragon 765 supposedly offers 20% better performance and efficiency compared to the Adreno 618 GPU in the Snapdragon 730. We don’t know the maximum clock speed of the GPU or any other details that might explain the increase in performance and efficiency, but again, it’s likely that the transition from an 8nm to a 7nm manufacturing process yielded some benefits in those regards.

Qualcomm added support for HDR10+ and Dolby Vision video playback in the Adreno 620. The Adreno 618, in comparison, only supported 4K HDR10 PQ.

Display

One of the best capabilities of the new Snapdragon 765, according to Qualcomm, is the fact that it supports on-device displays up to FHD+ resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. The GPU is largely responsible for pushing pixels to the display, and with higher resolutions and refresh rates, there are a lot more pixels to push.

So far, high refresh rate panels have been exclusively found in premium flagship smartphones. However, the Snapdragon 835-powered Razer Phone had a 120Hz display back in 2017, and this year alone we’ve seen nearly a dozen smartphones with high refresh rate displays. It’s only a matter of time until the first upper mid-range device launches with one, and when it does, it’ll likely be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765. Interestingly, Qualcomm confirmed to us that the GPU in the Snapdragon 730 is already capable of supporting FHD+ @ 120Hz, but we don’t know how much more capable the Snapdragon 765 is at sustaining 120fps than the Snapdragon 730.

AI

Qualcomm’s advancements in on-device artificial intelligence are best seen each year in the new Snapdragon 800 series, but the company has been bringing some of these advancements down to the Snapdragon 700 series as well. Qualcomm doubled the AI performance of the Snapdragon 730 versus the Snapdragon 710 by introducing their 4th generation AI Engine, adding more ALUs in the GPU, improving dot product instruction performance in the CPU, and adding their Hexagon Tensor Accelerator (HTA).

Qualcomm is continuing to improve the AI performance in the Snapdragon 700 series with the introduction of their 5th generation AI Engine and a newer Hexagon Tensor Accelerator in the Snapdragon 765. Overall, the Snapdragon 765G SoC is capable of 5.5 TOPS (trillions of operations) performance, closing in on the Snapdragon 855’s 7 TOPS performance.

A discrete component called the “Qualcomm Sensing Hub” has also been announced. The Sensing Hub is designed for always-on detection of audio with support for multiple hotwords such as “Hey/Okay Google” and “Alexa.” Utilizing <1 mW of power, the chip’s power drain is basically negligible. As the sensor’s framework is scalable, developers can use Qualcomm’s Hexagon SDKs to create their own audio-activated features.

ISP

While the Spectra ISP in the Snapdragon 800 series has received a huge bump in performance and functionality with this generation, the improvements in the Snapdragon 700 series are more modest. As far as we can tell, Qualcomm hasn’t disclosed any notable improvements in photography. Qualcomm boasts that the Snapdragon 765’s Spectra 355 ISP is capable of processing 192MP photos, but without ZSL at that resolution, don’t expect smartphone makers to ever allow you to capture full 192MP photos. Qualcomm did state that camera vendors are working on image sensors with these ultra high megapixel counts, though.

What we do know has changed in this generation is video capture. The Spectra 355 is capable of processing slow motion 720p videos at 480fps compared to the Spectra 350’s 720p@240fps support. In addition, the Spectra 355 adds support for video capture in HDR10+.

Connectivity

Modem

Qualcomm is aggressively positioning itself at the forefront of 5G technology, and they’re banking on the Snapdragon 765 to bring 5G-enabled smartphones to the masses. The Snapdragon 765 is Qualcomm’s first SoC with integrated 5G, meaning the 5G modem is on the die. This results in lower power consumption as the smartphone won’t have to provide power for a discrete modem. However, that doesn’t mean the Snapdragon 765 is superior at 5G connectivity compared to the Snapdragon 865.

The Snapdragon X52, like the Snapdragon X55, is a multi-mode modem, meaning it is capable of 2G, 3G, 4G LTE, and 5G (sub-6GHz and mmWave) connections. When comparing the specifications of the two modems, however, you’ll find that the Snapdragon X52 offers half the maximum theoretical 5G download speed (3.7Gbps vs 7.5Gbps), half the maximum theoretical 5G upload speed (1.6Gbps vs 3.0Gbps), half the mmWave bandwidth (400MHz vs 800MHz), and half the sub-6GHz bandwidth (100MHz vs 200MHz) compared to the discrete Snapdragon X55 modem paired with the Snapdragon 865. It’s a similar story for the 4G LTE speeds.

Snapdragon X52 modem

Yet, the mmWave 5G network roll out is still underway, so most users won’t be seeing 5G speeds that are anywhere close to the theoretical maximums anyway. What’s more important about the Snapdragon X52 is the fact that it supports global bands and has all the technology that Qualcomm has developed to improve throughput, reliability, and usability. Technologies like Dynamic Spectrum Sharing, global 5G roaming, multi-SIM 5G, 5G PowerSave, and Qualcomm Wideband Envelope Tracking are all implemented in the Snapdragon X52 modem, just to name a few.

Location

Like the latest 800 series chipsets, the Snapdragon 765 supports dual frequency GNSS, which can result in more precise location tracking if the smartphone has a chip capable of supporting multiple frequencies (L1+L5 or E1+E5a). This is the first Snapdragon 700 series chipset that supports this functionality.

Memory

As we’ve seen in some recent flagship devices, 4GB of RAM may not be enough to handle complex camera processing while having high-end mobile games and other apps in the background without killing one or more of these processes. The Snapdragon 730 already supports memory chips with a capacity of up to 8GB, but now the Snapdragon 765 supports a memory capacity of up to 12GB! Even better, the 765 supports memory speeds up to 2133MHz, a 267MHz increase over the 730. The increase in memory speeds may not account for much, but an extra 4GB of RAM can go a long way. Meanwhile, the premium Snapdragon 865 now supports LPDDR5 memory, thus raising the bar that the Snapdragon 700 series has to meet. Maybe next year.

Charging

Qualcomm’s latest fast charging technology is still a work-in-progress, it seems, as 27W Quick Charge 4+ is still the fast charge technology of choice for the Snapdragon 765. However, Qualcomm has added a new “Quick Charge AI” technology that supposedly extends the longevity of your smartphone’s battery. Compared to the Snapdragon 730, a device with the Snapdragon 765 will last for up to 200 more battery life cycles. Qualcomm did not share many details on how Quick Charge AI works, but it could be using dynamic voltage adjustment like USB-PD PPS (USB-Power Delivery Programmable Power Supply.)

But wait, there’s more! Meet the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G

Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G logo

Catering to mobile gamers, Qualcomm again designed a variant of its latest Snapdragon 700 series chip with slightly more power and some gaming-centric features. The Snapdragon 765G is basically identical to the Snapdragon 765, but it has the following advantages:

  • Slightly higher single-core CPU performance (Prime core clock speed increased from 2.3 GHz to 2.4 GHz)
  • Slightly faster GPU performance (15% speed-binned)
  • Select Snapdragon Elite Gaming features (Game Smoother, Game Fast Loader, Game Network Latency Manager, Jank Reducer 2.0, Predictive Game Auto Tuner)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 complete feature list. Click to expand.

Qualcomm AI Engine

  • Adreno 620 GPU (15% speed-binned GPU on 765G)
  • Qualcomm® Kryo™ 475 CPU
  • Hexagon 696 Processor
  • Hexagon Vector eXtensions
  • Hexagon Tensor Accelerator
  • Qualcomm Sensing Hub
    • Ultra low power hub for audio, voice and sensors
    • Supports AI algorithms at low power
    • Support for fusing contextual data streams including sensors, audio and voice
    • Supports multiple voice assistants
    • Always-on multi-mic far-field detection and echo cancellation

5G Modem-RF System

  • Snapdragon X52 5G Modem-RF System – Modem to antenna integrated system for 5G multimode
  • 5G mmWave and sub-6 GHz, standalone (SA) and non-standalone (NSA) modes, FDD, TDD
  • Dynamic Spectrum Sharing
  • mmWave: 400 MHz bandwidth, 2×2 MIMO
  • Sub-6 GHz: 100 MHz bandwidth, 4×4 MIMO
  • Qualcomm® 5G PowerSave
  • Qualcomm® Smart Transmit™ technology
  • Qualcomm® Wideband Envelope Tracking
  • Qualcomm® Signal Boost adaptive antenna tuning
  • Global 5G multi-SIM
  • Downlink: Up to 3.7 Gbps (5G), 1.2 Gbps (LTE)
  • Uplink: Up to 1.6 Gbps (5G), 210 Mbps (LTE)
  • Multimode support: 5G NR, LTE including CBRS, WCDMA, HSPA, TD-SCDMA, CDMA 1x, EV-DO, GSM/EDGE

Wi-Fi & Bluetooth

  • Qualcomm® FastConnect™ 6200 Subsystem
    • Wi-Fi Standards: 802.11ax-ready, 802.11ac Wave 2, 802.11a/b/g, 802.11n
    • Wi-Fi Spectral Bands: 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz
    • Channel Utilization: 20/40/80 MHz
    • MIMO Configuration: 2×2 (2-stream) with MU-MIMO
    • 8-stream sounding (for 8×8 MU-MIMO)
    • Dual-band simultaneous (DBS)
    • Wi-Fi Security: WPA3-Enterprise, WPA3- Enhanced Open, WPA3 Easy Connect, WPA3-Personal
    • Target Wake Time (TWT)
  • Integrated Bluetooth
    • Bluetooth version: 5.0
    • Bluetooth Speed: 2 Mbps
    • Bluetooth audio: Qualcomm TrueWireless™ Technology, Qualcomm aptX Adaptive

Camera

  • Qualcomm® Spectra™ 355 Image Signal Processor
  • Dual 14-bit ISPs
  • Hardware accelerator for computer vision (CV-ISP)
  • Up to 192 MP capture
  • Up to 22 MP dual camera with Zero Shutter Lag
  • Up to 36 MP single camera with Zero Shutter Lag
  • Rec. 2020 color gamut video capture
  • Up to 10-bit color depth video capture
  • Slow motion video capture at 720p at 480fps
  • HEIF: HEIC photo capture, HEVC video capture
  • Video Capture Formats: HDR10+, HDR10, HLG
  • 4K HDR Video Capture with Portrait Mode (Bokeh)
  • Multi-frame Noise Reduction (MFNR)
  • Real-time object classification, segmentation and replacement

Audio

  • Hexagon Voice Assistant Accelerator for hardware accelerated voice signal processing
  • Qualcomm Aqstic™ audio codec (up to WCD9385)
    • Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise (THD+N), Playback: -108dB
    • Native DSD support, PCM up to 384 kHz/32-bit
    • Customizable “Golden Ears” filter
  • Qualcomm Aqstic smart speaker amplifier (up to WSA8815)

Display

  • On-Device Display Support:
    • QHD+ at 60Hz
    • FHD+ at 120Hz
  • Maximum External Display Support: UHD at 60Hz
  • 10-bit color depth, Rec. 2020 color gamut
  • HDR10 and HDR10+

CPU

  • Kryo 475, Octa-core CPU
  • Up to 2.3 GHz (765)
  • Up to 2.4GHz (765G)
  • 64-bit Architecture

Visual Subsystem

  • Adreno 620 GPU
  • Vulkan® 1.1 API support
  • 4K HDR10 PQ and HLG Video Playback (10 bit color depth, Rec. 2020 color gamut)
  • H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC) VP8 and VP9 playback
  • Physically Based Rendering
  • API Support: OpenGL® ES 3.2, OpenCL™ 2.0 FP, Vulkan 1.1, DirectX 12

Security

  • Biometric Authentication: Fingerprint, Iris, Voice, Face
  • On-Device: Qualcomm® Mobile Security, Key Provisioning Security, Qualcomm® Processor Security, Qualcomm® Content Protection, Qualcomm® Trusted Execution Environment, Camera Security, Crypto Engine, Malware Protection, Secure Boot, Secure Token

Charging

  • Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+ technology
  • Qualcomm Quick Charge AI

Location

  • GPS, Glonass, BeiDou, Galileo, QZSS, and SBAS
  • Dual Frequency Support
  • Low Power Geofencing and Tracking, Sensor-assisted Navigation

General Specifications

  • Select Snapdragon Elite Gaming features including: Game Smoother, Game Fast Loader, and Game Network Latency Manager (765G)
  • Memory Speed: up to 2133 MHz, 12 GB RAM
  • Memory Type: 2 x 16-bit, LPDDR4x
  • Near Field Communications (NFC) support
  • DisplayPort over USB Type-C support
  • 7nm. Process Technology
  • Part Number: SM7250-AA (765)
  • Part Number: SM7250-AB (765G)

Mobile devices powered by the Snapdragon 765 series will be announced later this year and throughout 2020. Xiaomi’s Redmi K30 and OPPO’s Reno3 Pro have been confirmed to utilize the Snapdragon..