Snapdragon 835 vs. Snapdragon 821: How much of an upgrade is it?

Qualcomm formally detailed the Snapdragon 835 during its CES keynote, serving up a look at what's new in this year's flagship SoC. The Snapdragon 835 offers improvements across the board, and Qualcomm has incorporated a slew of new features, including Bluetooth 5, gigabit LTE, 802.11ad Wi-Fi, and much more.

The 14nm Snapdragon 820/821 was no slouch, but the move to the 10nm node has allowed Qualcomm to register huge gains in energy efficiency and performance. The Snapdragon 835 is 27% faster while consuming 40% less energy, with the overall size being 30% smaller than the previous generation. Here's a look at some of the key areas where the SoC differs from last year's offering:

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CategorySnapdragon 835Snapdragon 821
Node10nm FinFET (LPE)14nm FinFET (LPP)
CPUFour 2.45GHz Kryo 280 coresFour 1.9GHz Kryo 280 coresTwo 2.35GHz Kryo coresTwo 1.6GHz Kryo cores
GPUAdreno 540(OpenGL ES 3.2, OpenCL 2.0, Vulkan 1.0, DirectX 12)Adreno 530(OpenGL ES 3.1, OpenCL 2.0, Vulkan 1.0, DirectX 11.2)
MemoryDual-channel LPDDR4X1866MHz29.8GB/sDual-channel LPDDR41866MHz29.8GB/s
StorageeMMC 5.1UFS 2.1eMMC 5.1UFS 2.0
CameraDual ISP up to 32MP16MP dual cameraDual ISP up to 28MP
ModemX16 gigabit LTEDownload up to 1000Mbit/secUpload up to 150Mbit/secX12 LTEDownload up to 600Mbit/secUpload up to 150Mbit/sec
BluetoothBluetooth 5Bluetooth 4.2
Wi-Fi802.11ad multi-gigabit Wi-Fi802.11ac gigabit Wi-Fi
ChargingQuick Charge 4.0Quick Charge 3.0

We'll have to wait until the Snapdragon 835 makes its way to consumer devices — which is slated to be sometime later this quarter — before we can take a detailed look at how it fares next to last year's Snapdragon 820/821. However, based on the hardware and the node shrink, it looks like it will be another good year for Qualcomm in the high-end mobile SoC space.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.