Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 packs 600Mbps LTE and smarter charging

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 hype train is getting to be a bit much (just ship the thing, already!), but you might want to take notice of the latest news if you're big on data speeds -- or simply want to charge your phone in a hurry. The company has revealed that its future system-on-a-chip will include the first processor to support super-fast 600Mbps LTE-Advanced, blowing past the 450Mbps record from before. It'll upload at a brisk 150Mbps, too, and this chip is the first to support unlicensed LTE (aka LTE-U). Oh, and did we mention that it'll allow for multi-gigabit 802.11ad WiFi? You probably won't get to use much of this technology in the near term, but it's good to have a ton of futureproofing.

So what's the deal with charging? According to Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 820's focus is on intelligent fast charging rather than raw performance. Its new Quick Charge 3.0 spec is up to 27 percent faster when refilling your battery, but the big deal is an algorithm that saves energy during those rapid-fire recharges. Compared to Quick Charge 2.0, you're losing up to 45 percent less power -- that could add up over the typical life of a phone or tablet. The 3.0 implementation is also better at choosing the exact voltage you need, thus reducing the risk that you'll overheat your devices or shorten your device's lifespan.

The bad news? Like the Snapdragon 820 itself, you'll have to wait for most of this technology to show up next year. Some of it is arriving sooner, however. The Snapdragon 617, a new mid-range chip with eight cores and 300Mbps LTE, will support Quick Charge 3.0 when it arrives by the end of 2015. You can also expect that fast top-up tech to reach a slew of other Snapdragons, including the equally new 430 (an eight-core, 150Mbps budget chip due in spring 2016) as well as the already-announced 618 and 620.

Photos by Richard Lai.