Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 chip pushes video and photo smarts

Qualcomm promises video and photo improvements to smartphones powered by Snapdragon 888 processor.

Qualcomm promises video and photo improvements to smartphones powered by Snapdragon 888 processor.


With its Snapdragon 888 processor, Qualcomm wants to bring your next phone a step further into the modern era of photography with new speed and new AI smarts.

The new chip adds a third image processing module that allows flagship smartphones to handle three simultaneous video streams, all in 4K resolution with high dynamic range imagery. And for photos, the chip now uses artificial intelligence training to better judge photo focus and brightness, said Judd Heape, a Qualcomm vice president for product management.

Qualcomm detailed the chip camera abilities Wednesday as part of an event to unveil the Snapdragon 888, the company’s new top-end processor Qualcomm’s effort to keep Android phones competitive with Apple’s iPhones.

Taking photos and videos is one of the most important parts of phone use. It’s also one of the easiest ways phone makers can show off new abilities, persuading consumers there’s actually a reason to upgrade from a serviceable phone that’s two or three years old. So it makes sense for Qualcomm to invest in new photo and video features, and to increase the amount of chip electronics devoted to it.

The Snapdragon 888’s core photo video work takes place on a module called an image signal processor. Qualcomm’s flagship phone chip previously had two such modules, but now it’s got three, called the Spectra 580. That lets phones powered by the 888 to do more things at once, pushing 2.7 billion pixels per second through its processing pipeline.

Qualcomm doesn’t make phones, but companies like Samsung, LG Electronics and Google use its chip brains. Among other improvements coming in the 888 is built-in 5G networking support for fast mobile data transfer that doesn’t flatten batteries so quickly. It’s not yet clear how fast the new chip will be, but Apple’s A series of phone processors have for years outpaced Qualcomm chips in speed tests.

Snapdragon 888 video improvements

Taking three videos at once can be useful on modern high-end phones with wide, ultrawide and telephoto cameras. Keeping all three video streams live means the phone can switch views with no video stuttering or lag. With software from Arcsoft, which licenses its technology for use in phone makers’…

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