We had chance to benchmark the Snapdragon 865 at Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Tech Summit 2019, and the initial numbers show a lot of promise.

On the sidelines of Qualcomm's Snapdragon Tech Summit, we had the chance to play around with the company's reference device, powered by the Snapdragon 865 SoC. This is Qualcomm's latest flagship SoC that was announced at the summit in Maui, Hawaii and will be seen in all major flagship Android smartphones in 2020. With the Snapdragon 865, Qualcomm is promising up to a 25 percent increase in CPU and GPU performance, twice the performance increase in AI tasks and lower power consumption across the board. We got our hands on the reference device codenamed ‘Kona' and ran a few popular benchmarks to compare it with existing devices.
It's hard to tell if the reference device was based on an existing phone (if at all) but the design language was similar to older HTC smartphones. The back panel of the phone had a lot of cutouts for various connectors, presumably to be able to run diagnostics for components in the device. As for the specifications of the phone, it had a 5.9-inch QHD+ (1440x2880) display and was running on Android 10. These units were also equipped with 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 128GB of storage.
Qualcomm also mentioned that the Snapdragon 865 features a ‘performance mode,' that OEMs can choose to use for certain applications. On the reference devices, we had to manually enable it but on commercial products, from what we understood, this could be automatically enabled in the background when a certain game or app is launched. Qualcomm has also clarified that performance mode doesn't boost clock speeds but it simply makes workloads ‘appear' 20 percent heavier to the scheduler, so tasks are moved from the little cores, to the big cores a lot quicker. We were told that this boost in performance does come at the cost of battery life.

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