LONDON -- Chinese startup Xiaomi is set to become the world’s first manufacturer to produce a smartphone with Qualcomm’s powerful new Snapdragon 820 chipset -- beating Samsung, HTC, Sony and dozens of others to the punch.
For most consumers, the chips that power their smartphones don’t really matter -- as long as they work, that is. Last year, Qualcomm experienced serious issues with overheating on its Snapdragon 810 chip, which was most noticeable in the Sony Xperia Z3+, so this year’s Snapdragon 820 chip is very important for the California-based company.
Snapdragon chips power some of the most recognizable Android smartphones on the market from Samsung, Sony, HTC and LG, and despite delays to the Snapdragon 820 chip, Qualcomm has said that up to 30 different devices are already being tested using the chip. The chipset is being manufactured on a 14nm process, which helps deliver better battery life and reduces heat generation while providing even more power.
It was initially thought that all Snapdragon 820-powered devices would be delayed until 2016 at the earliest, but now a leading analyst has claimed that Xiaomi will beat everyone by launching its flagship Mi 5 smartphone before the end of the year.
Well-regarded Chinese electronic industry analyst Pan Jiutang has updated his prediction about the Mi 5 shipping date -- which he had pegged as March 2016 at the earliest -- suggesting that the Mi 5 will be released in December, as long as Qualcomm can handle the level of demand.
Xiaomi is a Chinese internet company which has risen quickly in the last five years to become one of the biggest smartphone manufacturers in the world, despite only selling its smartphones in a handful of markets, excluding the U.S. and Europe. The company has recently expanded into Brazil and is planning to launch its smartphones in Russia in the coming months. Launches in the U.S. and Europe are unlikely to happen anytime soon as the company is expected to face legal challenges by the likes of Apple and Samsung.
Becoming the first smartphone manufacturer to launch a smartphone with the Snapdragon 820 chip would be somewhat of a coup for the company, especially when you consider that Samsung is thought to be testing the chip for its flagship Galaxy S7 smartphone reportedly set for a January 2016 launch.
The Mi 5 would replace Xiaomi’s current flagship model, the Mi 4, which launched over a year ago, though it has since been updated with the Mi 4i and Mi 4c. Along with the Snapdragon 820 chipset, the reported specs of the smartphone, which will run Xiaomi’s own version of Android called MIUI, include a 5.2-inch screen (1080 x 1920 pixel resolution), 4GB of RAM, 16GB/32GB storage, 16 megapixel rear camera, 8 megapixel front camera, fingerprint sensor and a USB-C charging and a transfer port.