MWC: Qualcomm confirms Future Snapdragon 820 SoC

By | March 2, 2015

Qualcomm today at MWC 2015 announced their newest device security measure: an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner. Dubbed Qualcomm Snapdragon Sense ID 3D Fingerprint Technology, the tech uses ultrasonic waves to penetrate through the outer layers of your finger to build a three-dimentional map of your fingerprint that’s much harder to duplicate than a mere capacitive scanner as you’d find on the Samsung Galaxy S6 or iPhone 6. Additionally, Qualcomm also announced their new “machine learning” platform Zeroth, which aims to go for a device that learns and adapts to how you use it.


Currently, not many details are available about Snapdragon 820, but there are important information available. It will use a new custom 64-bit architecture (Kryo) and will be based on a more efficient manufacturing process. The Sense ID scanner recognizes sweat glands and the layers of your fingerprint ridges. But more impressive is that it works through metal, plastic, and glass, so it can be installed differently in a phone than under the glass plates that fingerprint scanners are currently placed. Additionally, by going ultrasonic, Sense ID can scan through any lotion, grease, or other grime that might frustrate a traditional capacitive scanner. Sense ID adheres to the FIDO open standard secure authentication.

The big mystery as of now is that its launch date.

Qualcomm is not going to start delivering 820 samples to companies until the second half of the year and it will take a while after that before it’s sitting in a phone you can buy. Zeroth will also depend on support from device makers, so there is no guarantee that you’ll have a ‘thinking’ handset right away.

Additionally, Qualcomm recently dug deeper into unlicensed spectrum, with Aberle saying that “LTE-U is even a better neighbor to Wi-Fi than other Wi-Fi networks.” Of course, we’ll have to see carriers actually start implementing LTE-U before we can even think about how well our networks will play together. On the other end of the spectrum, Qualcomm is also demoing the first Cat.11 LTE modems at MWC, topping out at a blistering 600Mbps downloads.