Qualcomm's official flagship processor this year was the Snapdragon 820 which featured in a number of premium smartphones like the LG G5, HTC 10, some regional versions of Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 Edge and Note 7, OnePlus 3 and Sony's Xperia X Performance. However, Qualcomm has not followed it up with an improved Snapdragon 821 processor featuring incremental upgrades in connectivity, graphics, photography, power and battery efficiency.
The Snapdragon 821 processor features thrice as fast peak upload speeds and 33% faster peak download speeds compared to the Snapdragon 810 thanks to a X12 LTE modem that offers download speeds of up to 600 Mbps. At the same time, it also brings in 10% increase in performance over the Snapdragon 820 and the new Qualcomm® Hexagon™ 680 DSP facilitates improved performance and battery life. An exhaustive AnTuTu examination of Pixel or Pixel XL phones will reveal the real-life performance scores of the new processor. The DSP, says Qualcomm, is "capable of generating photorealistic graphics for console-quality gaming and next-generation virtual reality apps."
Qualcomm's Snapdragon 821 is, however, quite similar to the Snapdragon 820 in many respects. Like the latter, it runs the same Qualcomm® Kryo™ CPU and an Adreno™ 530 GPU but the latter has now been fine-tuned to offer 5% better graphics performance over the former. It also features 14-bit Qualcomm Spectra™ Image Signal Processor (ISP) which offers zero shutter lag in smartphone cameras and lets smartphones run cameras with up to 28-MP in resolution.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon 821 is, no doubt, a processor built specifically to power the most advanced smartphones. It can support up to 4K Ultra HD video capture @ 30FPS, a 4K Ultra HD display, up to 4W output power from amplifiers, HD Voice over 3G and VoLTE and Wi-Fi calling with LTE call continuity. As such, Google's Pixel and Pixel XL will be advertised as the ultimate powerhouses of performance but it will be interesting to see if the Snapdragon 821 will suffer from the same overheating issues that the Snapdragon 810 did early last year.