Qualcomm's Snapdragon 450 packs a powerful processor and cutting-edge camera tech

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 450 chip promises to make budget smartphones better.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors — the chips that power millions of smartphones, tablets, and PCs — run the gamut from the uber-powerful (the 800 and 600 series) to the affordable (the 200 series), but somewhere in the middle sits the Snapdragon 400 series. It doesn’t pack all the bells and whistles of the high-end chips, but it’s nevertheless uncompromising on battery life, performance, and features. And on Tuesday, Qualcomm made it better with the launch of the Snapdragon 450, the newest flagship in the Californian chip maker’s 400 series.

The Snapdragon 450’s biggest breakthroughs have have to do with raw processing power and battery life. Compared to the Snapdragon 435, its predecessor, the Snapdragon 450 boasts 25 percent faster compute performance and a 25 percent increase in graphics performance. That’s thanks to architectural improvements like a 14nm FinFET design, a first for Qualcomm’s 400 series, and eight 64-bit processing cores clocked at 1.8 GHz (up from 1.2 GHz and 1.4 GHz on the Snapdragon 435).

“When you’re opening up your email client or a social media application […] you’ll see launch times improved,” said Kedar Kondap, Vice President of Product Management with the company. “It’s a very visible user experience enhancement.”

Despite the enhanced compute performance, the Snapdragon 450 sips much less power than the outgoing Snapdragon 435. It consumes 30 percent less on average, which translates to about four more hours of battery life.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 chip

“We wanted to enhance the offering, but at the same time provide very good battery life,” Kondap told Digital Trends during a phone briefing.

The Snapdragon 450’s beefed-up power management dovetails with its improved rapid charging. The chip’s Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, which supports USB Type-C, juices devices to 85 percent in 35 minutes, or a “full day” in 30 minutes.

Performance and power consumption aren’t the Snapdragon 450’s areas of improvement. Qualcomm’s built-in Hexagon DSP enables camera capabilities like real-time bokeh, which applies a blur effect to the background of images, and Clear Sight, which uses a combination of RGB lenses and black and white sensors to capture greater contrast, more light, and less noise. Those benefits extend to video recording — Snapdragon 450-equipped devices take footage in 1080p at 60 frames per second and automatically suppress background noise.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The Snapdragon 450 sports USB 3.0, which can transfer files at speeds of up to 5 Gpbs compared to the Snapdragon 435’s 0.5 Gbps — fast enough to copy a two-hour movie in three minutes. Its X9 LTE modem can achieve a 300Mbps downlink, thanks to features like 2×20 carrier aggregation, 64 QAM, and 802.11ac with MU-MIMO, and Cat. 6 LTE. There’s precision-enhanced navigation and location tracking onboard, plus eye-based authentication and liveness detection. And the Snapdragon 450 is the first in the series to support iris scanners.

Better yet? It won’t be long before it launches. Qualcomm expects the Snapdragon 450 to become commercially available in the third quarter of this year, and launch in devices during Q4.

“We’ve made many recent changes to the [platform] as part of our vision to deliver the most advanced mobile functionality at the best possible value,” Kondap said. “With the Snapdragon 450, users are going to see a dramatically improved level of performance, connectivity, battery life, and imaging performance.”

Photography

Get up close and personal with this telephoto lens for your phone

Moment is replacing its aging 60mm telephoto lens with a new 58mm tele lens, redesigned from the ground up for the latest iPhone, Pixel, and Galaxy phones. Mount it onto the phone via a case and get closer with 2x optical zoom.
Mobile

Upcoming Galaxy S10 may support 8K video and have Neural Processing Unit

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Deals

The best iPhone deals for November 2018

Apple devices can get expensive, but if you just can't live without iOS, don't despair: We've curated an up-to-date list of all of the absolute best iPhone deals available for November 2018.
Mobile

On a budget? We found the best affordable smartphones you can buy

Here are the best cheap phones for anyone working with a tight budget, whether you're a fan of stock Android or marathon battery life. Find out what you can get for under $500 or far, far less as we round up the best budget smartphones.
Mobile

We tried all the latest and greatest smartphones to find the best of 2018

Smartphones are perhaps the most important and personal piece of tech on the planet. That’s why it’s important to pick the best phone for your individual needs. Here are the best smartphones you can buy.
Mobile

Master your new Nokia 7.1 with our favorite tips and tricks

At $350, the Nokia 7.1 is a nearly perfect budget phone. It has a gorgeous body, good hardware, and a capable camera. Recently purchased the Nokia 7.1? Here are a few of our favorite tips and tricks to get you started with your new phone.
Mobile

Android will finally get a faster sharing menu, but it might take a while

The Android sharing menu has gotten a whole lot better over the years, but it's also gotten slower. Thankfully, however, it seems as though Google is working on a better, faster sharing menu but, unfortunately, it may take a while.
Wearables

Check out 25 of the best Wear OS apps for your smartwatch

Looking for some ways to spruce up that new Android smartwatch of yours? Here are the best Wear OS apps to download and use with any Android smartwatch, including a few specially enhanced for Wear OS 2.0.
Mobile

The best iPhone XR cases to keep your phone shiny and new

Apple's new iPhone range is the toast of 2018, with beautiful style and more power than you can shake a stick at. But beauty can often be fragile -- keep the damage to a minimum with the best iPhone XR cases.
Computing

A dead pixel doesn't mean a dead display. Here's how to repair it

Dead pixel got you down? We don't blame you. Check out our guide on how to fix a dead pixel and save yourself that costly screen replacement, or an unwanted trip to your local repair shop.
Mobile

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.
Cars

Lime’s first carsharing service motors into Seattle this week

Lime may be better known for its app-based bike and scooter rental services, but in Seattle, Washington this week it's launching its very first carsharing service, similar to Car2go and Zipcar.
Photography

Golf ball-sized Lume Cube Air is a pocketable LED for photos and video

Off-camera lighting for smartphones and GoPros just got even smaller. Meet the Lume Cube Air, a smaller portable LED light designed for photos and videos that weighs only about two ounces.
Deals

Black Friday 2018: The best deals so far

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.