When we announced Xperia XZ Premium at MWC there was plenty on the spec-sheet to catch our eye, not least, Qualcomm’s latest and most powerful offering, the Snapdragon 835. When it comes to mobile platforms Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 is as good as it gets right now and we were thrilled that Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium was the first handset revealed as using the tech.
From powering the 4K HDR screen and Super slow motion video capture, to the latest 4G-network speed, we know what the 835 is capable of, but how does it all actually work?
To find out we spoke to Qualcomm HQ in sunny San Diego to chat to two members of the Technical Marketing team, Francisco ‘Cisco’ Cheng and Sherif Hanna. With over 10 years of service between them, the guys took us through the inner workings of the chip and revealed how this powerful mobile platform delivers when you need it most…
Nice to speak to you guys – so we obviously love the 835, how long has the process taken from first concept to final product?
FC: For any given platform, it can take over a year from conception to final product.
Snapdragon 835 is your smallest chip to date, are you always looking to reduce the overall size?
FC: Not necessarily. Transitioning to a new process node encompasses more than just size. There are architectural changes, power management improvements, and feature improvements that aren’t necessarily a result of decrease in size.
So how small do you think chips can go – have we now reached the limit?
FC: The processor itself will continue to shrink, along with the chips surrounding it. This is how Qualcomm Technologies can reduce the footprint of what’s inside your mobile device, resulting in thinner and sleeker form factors that accommodate bigger batteries and more features.
How do those extra features enable the Xperia XZ Premium to capture video at an impressive 960fps?
FC: We have an Image Signal processor called Spectra and a cutting-edge video engine that is capable of powering various video-capturing techniques.
People are pretty excited about Gigabit-class LTE connectivity – what does it mean for users?
SH: Gigabit LTE is the latest generation of 4G wireless technology. It can support download speeds up to 10 times those of the first 4G devices and networks. Those kinds of speeds can fundamentally change what people can do with their phones, and open up exciting new possibilities once app developers fully harness it.
Sounds simple. Do we really need it?
SH: No question – Gigabit LTE actually improves the capacity of the mobile network so that it can provide faster speeds for all users. This means that it can help relieve congestion that typically slows down 4G speeds in crowded areas – in a busy city centre, at the airport, or on a university campus. That translates to fantastically fast speeds for users with Gigabit LTE devices, and improved speeds even for users with old devices. Everyone wins.
Can you tell us more about how Xperia XZ Premium supports this new feature?
SH: Certainly. The Xperia XZ Premium is truly a marvel of wireless engineering. One of the key enablers of Gigabit LTE is a technology called 4×4 Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO). This means that Sony’s engineers were able to squeeze four LTE antennas into the smartphone instead of the regular two.
Squeezing four antennas into a smartphone was thought to be impossible just a few years ago, and yet Sony’s engineers were able to do it. That’s where the relationship between Sony and Qualcomm Technologies really pays off in a big way for users of the Xperia XZ Premium.
How long do you think it will be before Gigabit LTE has ubiquitous mobile network support then?
SH: We’re off to a great start already. Over 15 operators in more than 11 countries have already announced their intention to roll out Gigabit LTE in 2017, including EE in the UK. We expect many more to follow suit over the coming 12-18 months.
But what about 5G? Is Gigabit LTE significant in the path towards it?
SH: Absolutely. And it’s significant in two concrete ways. First, Gigabit LTE gives us the first glimpse of our 5G future, with Internet speeds that were unfathomable in a mobile device up to this point. That means that app developers can begin adapting their apps to take advantage of new speeds that weren’t possible before.
Second, when 5G networks begins to roll-out, they will have limited coverage. It will actually be Gigabit LTE that will provide high-speed coverage over a wider geographic area, whenever the user moves out of range of 5G coverage.
What else do you predict for the future of wireless network and connectivity technology?
SH: With the advent of 5G, we can expect mobile broadband to become much faster, much lower latency, and more ubiquitous, enabling new virtual reality and augmented reality scenarios that we can only dream of today. We’re also going to bring 5G connectivity to new types of devices beyond smartphones – our aim, in essence, is to connect every object and every device, empowering them with even better capabilities than we get in our smartphones today. The future really will be more amazing than we can imagine today.
FC: Qualcomm Technologies is a leader in wireless technology, so we see a future where everything is connected to each other with seamless access. It can be the next great cellular technology or a completely untethered headset that is always connected to the cloud. Wireless is our strength and we intend to make it better.
Incredible. So what’s next for you both, what are you currently working on?
SH: Even as 4G continues to evolve with Gigabit LTE, we’re now working in earnest on bringing 5G to the world. And who knows – before you know it, I may be back chatting with Sony about new 5G-enabled devices!
FC: The Snapdragon team is in the process of helping companies like Sony roll out the Snapdragon 835 in the most premium and advanced mobile devices, and we are happy to see that Sony will be one of the first to ship with the Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform.
Thank you for your time, before you go could you reveal any exciting details on some new products from Qualcomm Technologies?
FC: We are constantly unveiling new technology. We recently announced a new modem technology that is engineered to push speeds well beyond 1Gbps and enable more and more operators to support fast speeds in the very near future.
Discover more about the Xperia XZ Premium here.