Most 2020 smartphone flagships will have increased power requirements due to the lack of integrated 4G/5G modem with the Snapdragon 865
The Snapdragon 865 SoC looks set to rock the high-end Android phone world in 2020, with improved performance, impressive new imaging and AI features. Still, the chip is far from being Qualcomm’s pinnacle of design. For a SoC that is meant to power the next gen 5G handhelds, the Snapdragon 865 surprisingly offers no 5G modem of its own, but what is even more baffling is that Qualcomm did not even bother to include a “measly” 4G LTE modem in the new top-of-the-line chip. Analysts now believe that this is a step backward that can cause power issues for high-end phones launching throughout 2020.
When every other SoC maker is trying to mash everything but the kitchen sink in their flagship chips, Qualcomm thought it wisely to just let this one slide and provide a separate 4G/5G modem with the Snapdragon 865. The real advantage of having all the needed systems integrated on a single chip is that it saves power and it allows for a potentially bigger battery that can last longer. Even Qualcomm knows that this is the way things should be, as back in 2012 it was stating that “the more chips that are involved in building a device, the more challenging it is to conserve battery life while maintaining performance… consolidation means good things for your battery.”
Unless Qualcomm somehow imbued its new chips with alien tech, most of the 2020 flagships will most likely run hot and have considerably reduced battery lives. Recent tests performed by PCMag in more arid places like Las Vegas proved that the overheating Snapdragon 855 + separate X50 5G modem combo experienced overheating problems that lead to connections being hard capped at 4G speeds. Apparently Qualcomm was not paying attention to this aspect. The company does provide a premium mid-range Snapdragon 765G that already integrates an X52 5G modem, so why could not this be done for the flagship chip? Not even an integrated 4G modem?
Qualcomm is already facing trials regarding smartphone chip monopolies and strongarm practices with the company’s partners, and now smartphone integrators will be forced to buy double the amount of chips since they will be needing both the SoC and the separate 5G modem. Nice little financial scheme right there, yet the OEMs will not really care too much, as they will bump up the handheld prices themselves to compensate.
As end users, all we can do now is to choose between faster smartphone models that overheat and last for only a few hours, or go with the alternatives from Samsung, MediaTek and Huawei that might be a bit slower yet cheaper, or even jump ships to the Apple side.