Snapdragon 865 Plus unveiled — meet the chip that could power the Galaxy Note 20

(Image credit: Qualcomm)

The top Android phones coming out in the second half of 2020 are about to get a performance boost, as Qualcomm has announced the Snapdragon 865 Plus. The chip is an amped-up version of the Snapdragon 865, only with a faster CPU and better graphics performance, and it could be coming to the Samsung Galaxy Note 20.

Specifically, Qualcomm says the Snapdragon 865 Plus boosts the core clock speed on the chipset's Kryo 585 Prime CPU by 10% to 3.1GHz. The Adreno 650 GPU featured on the system-on-chip can render graphics 10% faster than the Snapdragon 865 could.

Asus already says that its ROG Phone 3 will feature the Snapdragon 865 Plus, but it's a smartphone not mentioned in the announcement today (July 8) that's likely to be a big beneficiary of the new silicon. Samsung's Galaxy Note 20 phablets, which are expected to debut next month, are rumored to be among the phones that will run on the Snapdragon 865 Plus. (For its part, Qualcomm is mum on which phones will sport the new processor, leaving that kind of announcement to individual device makers.)

Like the Snapdragon 865, the 865 Plus will boast 5G connectivity, with an included X55 5G modem, but it's also speeding up Wi-Fi performance as well. The new processor uses Qualcomm's FastConnect 6900 system that's capable of 3.6 Gbps speeds. It does so by extending Wi-Fi 6 performance into the 6 GHz band, reducing congestion and improving latency.

Snapdragon 865 Plus provides a big gaming boost

But one of the big areas of focus with the Snapdragon 865 Plus is in mobile gaming — not a surprise given that both the gaming-centric ROG Phone 3 and the Lenovo Legion series of mobile gaming devices are pledging to incorporate the new chipset.

Included in the Snapdragon 865 Plus' features are updateable GPU drivers — which let users directly download GPU driver updates from mobile apps stores — 10-bit HDR gaming, and gameplay at 144 frames per second.

There's also support for desktop forward rendering, which allows game makers to use desktop-quality lighting and post-processing effects in their mobile offerings — think shadows, glares, reflections and other effects that make games more visually immersive.

Otherwise, expect the new chipset to incorporate a lot of the features introduced late last year with the Snapdragon 865. That includes Qualcomm's 5th-gen AI engine to improve gameplay, real-time translation and audio enhancements. The Snapdragon 865 Plus also includes Quick Charge AI, a battery health feature that promises to extend battery life cycles up to 200 days.

Expect more devices that support the Snapdragon 865 Plus to emerge during the next three months, Qualcomm says.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.