Qualcomm’s next-gen Snapdragon brings 4K video playback to smartphones (for some reason)

qualcomm snapdragon tablet
Image Credit: Qualcomm
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4K, the high-res video format few consumers care about, is getting another big push — this time from Qualcomm.

The company is taking the lid off the Snapdragon 850, its newest high-end mobile processor. While Qualcomm says the chip is 40 percent faster than its predecessors, the real pull here is that the Snapdragon 850 is designed from the ground-up for 4K video playback.

TV makers’ latest favorite buzzword, “4K” refers to content that has a horizontal resolution of over 4,000 pixels, which is roughly twice that of 1080p, the current high-end HD format. Qualcomm says that having a phone with its new 4K chip will be like “having an UltraHD theater in your pocket.” (Which sounds uncomfortable.)

While there isn’t much consumer interest in the new format yet, companies like Nvidia (with its new high-end graphics card), Acer (with its Liquid S2 phone), and Sony (with its 4K movie service) are all pushing to support it in some way or another. The same thing goes for Netflix, which plans to stream 4K video within the next two years (ISPs be dammed).

Qualcomm says that the Snapdragon 805 won’t ship to manufacturers until next year, so it might be a while until we see the Snapdragon 805 in actual phones. But maybe we’re okay with that.

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