Qualcomm's New Snapdragon 865+ Platform Improves Connectivity & Boosts Gaming Performance

The Snapdragon 865+ is the first mobile SoC to break the 3GHz barrier.
It supports both Sub-6Ghz and mmWave 5G when paired with the X55 modem.
The Asus ROG Phone 3 and Lenovo Legion gaming phones will be the first to be powered by the new chipset.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 has been a successful mobile platform with over 140 design wins, powering major flagship smartphones of 2020. These include the likes of the Oppo Find X2 Pro, Realme X50 Pro 5G, Samsung Galaxy S20-series, OnePlus 8-series and the Xiaomi Mi 10. Now, Qualcomm has announced an update in the form of Snapdragon 865+ that will be powering some Android smartphones this year.

Just like last year’s Snapdragon 855+, the new Snapdragon 865+ SoC is an incremental upgrade with improved CPU and GPU performance. One of the highlights of the Snapdragon 865+ mobile SoC is that it is the first one to break the 3GHz clock speed barrier. The chipset also brings improved connectivity, starting first with the Snapdragon 800-series.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ SoC: Key Features

Bragging Rights for the Fastest Mobile CPU

Similar to the Snapdragon 855-series and the Snapdragon 865, the new and improved SoC is built on TSMC’s 7nm node and features a tri-cluster design. At the heart of the CPU, you have a custom Kryo 585 Cortex-A77-based prime core clocked at 3.1GHz. It is an impressive achievement for mobile silicon and brings a 10% performance improvement over the SD 865 platform.

The prime core is coupled with three Cortex-A77-based performance cores clocked at 2.24GHz, and four Cortex-A55-based efficiency cores clocked at 1.8GHz. The chipset also brings support for up to 16GB RAM – LPDDR5 with a maximum frequency of 2750MHz, or LPDDR4X with a maximum frequency of 2133MHz.

On the graphics side, there is the Adreno 650 GPU, which, Qualcomm claims, brings a 10% improvement over SD 865. However, the chipmaker did not reveal the clock frequency of the GPU. For context, the Adreno 650 GPU on SD 865 runs at 587MHz, so expecting the one on SD 865+ to be over 600MHz.

qualcomm snapdragon 865 plus specifications
Source – Qualcomm

Connectivity: 5G, Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2

Qualcomm recently announced the Snapdragon 690 mobile platform with an integrated 5G modem which aims to bring next-gen connectivity at a more affordable price point. The Snapdragon 765/765G are other chipsets with integrated 5G modems. But just like the SD 865, the SD 865+ also does not come with a built-in modem. For connectivity, smartphone makers need to pair an external Snapdragon X55 5G modem.

The modem supports both mmWave and Sub-6GHz, SA (standalone), and NSA (non-standalone) modes, along with TDD, FDD bands and Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS). With support for global 5G multi-SIM, it can offer peak download speeds of up to 7.5Gbps and peak upload speed of up to 3Gbps.

Qualcomm has also included FastConnect 6900 on the 865+, which is an upgrade over FastConnect 6800 on the 865 SoC. It brings the latest Wi-Fi 6E connectivity which works in the 6GHz band to deliver peak download speeds of 3.6Gbps. The chipset also comes integrated with the new Bluetooth 5.2 standard and support for aptX Adaptive audio codec. Lastly, support for USB Type-C and USB 3.1 is also present.

Up to 144Hz Display and 200MP Camera Support

Talking about the display, smartphones with 90Hz and 120Hz screen refresh rate are becoming common. OEMs using the SD 865+ can add a QHD+ display with support for a 144Hz screen refresh rate, or a 4K display with a 60Hz refresh rate. Support for HDR10 and HDR10+ is also present. The Nubia Red Magic 5G gaming phone powered by SD 865 already comes with a 144Hz screen refresh rate, and the same is expected from the upcoming gaming phones from Lenovo and Asus.

coounterpoint qualcomm snapdragon 865 plus gaming
Source – Qualcomm

On the photography front, the SoC comes with a Spectra 480 ISP that can process up to 2 Gigapixels per second, or 200MP still photos. OEMs can add five different types of camera setups – a wide-angle, an ultra-wide-angle, a telephoto, a portrait and a macro lens. There is support for 4K video capture at 120fps, unlimited slow-motion 720p (960fps) video recording, and 8K video recording at 30fps. Supported video recording formats include HDR10, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. Just like the SD865, the SD865+ also lets you record 4K HDR videos in Bokeh mode, where the subject in the video will be in focus and the background will be blurred.

Snapdragon Elite Gaming Takes Precedence

With mobile gaming on the rise, especially with games like PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty: Mobile and Fortnite, chipmakers are focusing on adding gaming-centric features. We have seen Snapdragon Elite Gaming on the 700- and 800-series chipsets over the past couple of years. But it is not a feature and more of user experience when playing games on mobile phones.

counterpoint qualcomm elite gaming
Source – Qualcomm

The user experience enhancements include ultra-smooth interaction with faster graphics rendering to remove janks and better graphics quality with support for 10-bit HDR gaming for realistic details. Qualcomm has also worked to offer immersive audio experience, and you can find smartphones that support Dolby Atmos and Hi-Fi capabilities for game audio. Lastly, the Snapdragon Elite Gaming also focuses on offering better online gaming with a network latency manager. These are the features that are built right within the platform.

Conclusion: Unlocking Potential for Gaming Phones

When Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 855+ last year, gaming phones like the Asus ROG Phone 2 and Black Shark 2 Pro were the first to run on the platform. This year too, the Snapdragon 865+ mobile platform will make its way to the gaming phones first. The Asus ROG Phone 3 and Lenovo’s first gaming phone with Legion moniker will be powered by the SD 865+ mobile platform.

counterpoint snapdragon 865 plus elite gaming
Source – Qualcomm

Both the gaming phones from Asus and Lenovo are set to debut on July 22. A lot has already been leaked about these phones, and they are expected to come with AMOLED displays featuring 144Hz screen refresh rate, and 5G connectivity, among others. One of the interesting things about the Lenovo Legion gaming phone will be its side-mounted pop-up selfie camera, which is specially designed for gamers who live-stream their games.

counterpoint lenovo legion gaming

Google has also been expanding its Stadia platform across the US, Canada and Europe. These are the major markets where 5G rollouts have already started. With Stadia, Google is looking to change the traditional video gaming market. It will allow you to stream and play games on any screen that you own, without having to download them. For this to work as promised, the Snapdragon 865/865+ platform with high-speed 5G or Wi-Fi 6/6E support and low latency connectivity will be a key driver. 

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The Mi 10 Could Help Xiaomi Increase its Global Presence in the Ultra-Premium Segment

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the global smartphone market to experience its fastest ever decline of 13% YoY in Q1 2020. While Samsung, Huawei, and Apple have been impacted, Xiaomi has seen a 7% growth, mostly coming from markets outside China. The growth also saw Xiaomi becoming the fourth-largest smartphone vendor in the world. While most of this growth comes from affordable to mid-premium smartphones, the company now has its eyes set on the ultra-premium segment with the Xiaomi Mi 10-series.

Xiaomi Portfolio Segmentation

Xiaomi is more than just a smartphone maker. The company portfolio includes Smart TVs, fitness bands, TWS headphones, IoT products like air purifiers, water purifiers, security cameras, and more. In terms of smartphone portfolio, there are Redmi branded smartphones focusing on affordable to mid-range segments. These include the Y-series, Note-series, and K-series among others.

For the premium portfolio, Xiaomi is going with the Mi branding. This includes the A-series smartphones that offer near-stock Android experience with Google’s Android One branding. The Mi-series also includes the flagship smartphones with top-of-the-line hardware and premium design. The latest Mi 10-series and the concept Mi MIX Alpha are some examples.counterpoint xiaomi brand segmentation

In China, Xiaomi also acquired Meitu’s handset business in 2018. The company has been popular for its photo-editing and sharing app. Meitu also made smartphones but they didn’t sell well. After the takeover, Xiaomi did launch Mi CC9 Meitu edition phones, but they were restricted to the Chinese market.

The portfolio also included Poco, which has now spun off as a separate brand. But if you look at the overall strategy, Poco will focus on the gap that is left in the mid-premium segment. The decision to set Poco free makes sense as it will help Xiaomi target the premium segment, whereas Poco can continue as a “flagship killer” in its segment.

The house of brand segmentation is not exactly a new concept. Xiaomi is learning from Realme, which started as Oppo’s sub-brand and has seen immense success after it spun off. Even Vivo has been following the same footsteps, where iQoo has now branched out to focus on the premium segment. Likewise, Transsion Holdings has a multi-brand strategy where it has Tecno, Infinix, and iTel, all focusing on different audience segments.

Poco going on its own, with Xiaomi focusing on two different consumer sections with Redmi and Mi brand could help in differentiating the portfolio.

Xiaomi Ultra-Premium Market Share

As of Q4 2019, Xiaomi had a market share of around 1% in China in the ultra-premium segment (>$660 wholesale price). With the Mi 10 series, Xiaomi is going global to chase share in the premium segment.

counterpoint xiaomi global ultra premium market share

Globally, Xiaomi has less than 1% market share in the ultra-premium segment. In markets like Spain, UK, Italy, Germany, and France; Apple, Samsung, and Huawei are strong. These are also the markets where OnePlus and Oppo have some presence, and they will be Xiaomi’s immediate competitors. The interplay between brands in Europe is at a critical stage due to the difficulties Huawei is facing following the US including Huawei on its entity list that prevents it from launching new flagship products with GMS services.

While Apple and Samsung are the market leaders, Xiaomi with a 5G portfolio has a good chance to compete with OnePlus and Huawei. A 108MP quad-camera setup, 5G, and other features like wireless charging, and fast charging make Mi 10 5G a compelling device. Huawei’s P40 series is impressive, but the lack of GMS service means an opportunity for Xiaomi to grab some share.

Given the fact that Xiaomi has gained a good market share with its affordable and mid-range smartphones in countries like Spain, the premium push likely comes at the right time. Xiaomi should also partner with carriers to ensure the smartphone gets the right push.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Pricing and Competition

In China, there are two smartphones in the series – Mi 10 and Mi 10 Pro. The regular Mi 10 model has three SKUs – with the base model available for around $560, whereas the top model with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage will set you back $660.  The Mi 10 Pro is also offered in three SKUs – with the base model at around $700, and the top-end model with 12GB RAM and 512GB storage for $860.

In the UK, only the vanilla Mi 10 model is launched where the base model with 128GB storage is available for $850, whereas the 256GB storage model will set you back $980. The pricing in Europe is similar, and the Mi 10 Pro model is also available at a starting price of $1,098.

counterpoint xiaomi mi 10 5g lead 2
Source – Xiaomi

Talking about competition in the UK, the OnePlus 8 starts at around $699, whereas the OnePlus 8 Pro starts at around $899. Similarly, the Huawei P40 starts at around $899, the P40 Pro starts at around $1,080, whereas the Huawei P40 Pro+ starts at around $1,500. If we compare the Mi 10 pricing with the competition, it is clear that Xiaomi is positioning Mi as a premium brand.

Xiaomi has attempted premium push previously with Mi Mix and Note series, but failed to make any impact. However, the Mi 10 series sports a leading-edge immersive display, 108MP quad cameras setup and Snapdragon 865 SoC with 5G, which could drive uptick in this important “halo” segment.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Specifications and Features

Immersive Dual Curved Display

The Xiaomi Mi 10 flaunts a 6.67-inch curved AMOLED display (with HDR 10+) that runs at FHD+ resolution (1080x2340pixels), and 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The screen brightness peaks at 1,120 nits, which should make reading under direct sunlight easier. The panel features a 90Hz refresh rate to make viewing motion content smoother. To make gaming smoother, the smartphone also comes with a 180Hz sampling rate for better sensitivity.

counterpoint xiaomi mi 10 5g gaming
Source – Xiaomi

A display with a faster refresh rate is becoming a de-facto standard feature for premium smartphones. But the Xiaomi Mi 10 falls behind in comparison to the competition. The OnePlus 8 Pro and Galaxy S20 series both come with a faster 120Hz display. They also come with a better QHD+ display resolution compared to FHD+ on the Mi 10. Having a better display could have made the Xiaomi phone future proof.

Processing and Connectivity

The Xiaomi flagship smartphone comes with a 7nm Snapdragon 865 SoC under the hood. The chipset is 25% faster than last year’s Snapdragon 855 and consumes 25% less power at the same time. To keep the thermal levels low, Xiaomi is also using vapor chamber cooling with the help of graphite layers and graphene. The smartphone comes with up to 12GB RAM LPDDR5 RAM which is again faster and more energy-efficient compared to the previous generation. Along with up to 256GB UFS 3.0 storage, you get better read and write speeds, along with faster app opening times.

counterpoint xiaomi mi 10 5g snapdragon 865
Source – Xiaomi

On the connectivity front, the Mi 10 features a Snapdragon X55 5G modem to bring the next-gen connectivity solution. With SA (standalone) and NSA (non-standalone) modes, the Mi 10 supports the Sub-6Ghz network (n1, n3, n41, n78, and n79 bands). The smartphone also includes Wi-Fi 6 connectivity which brings a 270% speed improvement over the previous generation, with maximum speeds of up to 9.6GB/s. It is also more power efficient.

Quad-Cameras with 108MP Main Sensor

In the photography department, the smartphone offers a quad-rear camera setup. The highlight is the primary 108MP camera sensor with f/1.69 aperture and OIS. It is a Samsung sensor with a sensor size of 1/1.33-inch and 1.6μm pixels. Unlike Samsung which is using 9-in-1 Nona-Binning to capture 12MP photos by default, Xiaomi is using 4-in-1 super pixel binning to capture 27MP photos by default.

The primary camera is backed by a 13MP ultra-wide-angle lens with a field of view of 123°. There is also a 2MP macro lens to capture close-up shots and a 2MP depth sensor for portrait shots. For selfies and video calling, you get a 20MP front camera in a hole-punch setup.

counterpoint xiaomi mi 10 5g cameras
Source – Xiaomi

The camera setup with a 108MP primary sensor will surely help Xiaomi in positioning. But the one area where it lacks is the telephoto lens with optical and hybrid zoom functionalities. Competitors like the Oppo Find X2 Pro, Huawei P40 Pro, and Samsung Galaxy S20-series have zoom functionalities. Xiaomi could have gone with a telephoto lens, instead of giving a macro lens. Sure, the telephoto exists in the Mi 10 Pro, but it is not sold in every global region.

counterpoint xiaomi mi 10 5g camera app
Source – Xiaomi

The interesting part of the Mi 10 camera is the app that opens multiple possibilities. It features 8K video recording at 30fps, slow-motion videos at 120fps, a dedicated VLOG mode for YouTubers, and a video portrait mode. There is a pro mode too, which unlocks histogram for videos, focus peaking, metering options, and more. Xiaomi has also included a Movie Mode with 8 classic filters, color focus, real-time background blur, and more.

Ad-Free Android Software

Unlike the Redmi-series that comes with MIUI-based Android skin with ads, the Mi 10 comes with Tier 1 Android experience. Running on Android 10 OS with MIUI 11 skin, the differentiator is where it uses Google applications for core apps such as dialler, messaging, and more. The Xiaomi software also includes goodies like document scanner in the camera app, always-on display, and Mi Remote app that can use the infrared sensor to control your audio/video devices such as TV, AC, DVD player and more.

counterpoint xiaomi mi 10 5g miui
Source – Xiaomi

Fast Charging Battery and Extras

To keep things ticking, the Mi 10 is armed with a 4,780mAh battery with support for 30W fast wired charging, and 30W fast wireless charging. There is also support for reverse wireless charging where you can wirelessly charge other Qi-enabled devices at 10W speed.

Talking about extras, the Xiaomi Mi 10 comes with stereo speakers, where the earpiece doubles as a secondary speaker when playing games, listening to music, or watching videos. What is exciting here is unlike other brands, Xiaomi is using symmetrical “Dual 1216 super-linear speakers,” to offer better stereo experience. The smartphone also supports Hi-Res audio, and LHDC support as well.

Overall, with the Mi 10, Xiaomi has a good device to contest for its share in the ultra-premium segment.

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Realme X50 Pro 5G Delivers Smooth and Reliable Performance with Future Proof Connectivity

The 90Hz display refresh rate makes UI butter smooth.
The 65W fast charging tops up the 4,200mAh battery in 35 minutes.
Realme X50 Pro 5G offers good overall camera performance.

Realme had a series of successful launches in the mid-range segment since its debut in 2018. A year later, the company defied the global smartphone market slowdown to show a growth of 800% in 3Q 2019, albeit from a low base. This also made Realme the fastest growing brand in that quarter. Towards the end of the year, it entered the premium segment with the flagship “Realme X2 Pro” smartphone and captured a 2% market share. Kicking off 2020 with a bang, the company launched its first 5G smartphone in India, the Realme X50 Pro 5G. It is a flagship smartphone carrying a price tag of $525. Ready to compete with Xiaomi and OnePlus in the premium segment, is the smartphone any good? Here is my review after using it for a little over a month.

Stylish Design, Premium Build

Moving away from gradient designs and glossy back, the new Realme smartphone has a frosted glass (matte) finish. Available in Rust Red and Moss Green colors, the glass back does have some depth with shifting colors as light falls on it. The finish has another advantage – it is not a fingerprint or smudge magnet like the glossy ones.

counterpoint realme x50 pro 5g colors

The frame is made from metal and the overall build quality is good. Though, I would also like to point out that the smartphone feels a bit heavier. With a 6.4-inch screen, the smartphone is tall, due to which single-handed use is not easier. But I like that the power button and volume buttons are well placed, within the reach of your thumb and fingers.

counterpoint realme x50 pro 5g review usb type-c

Just like other smartphones, the Realme X50 Pro 5G also ditches the legacy 3.5mm audio jack and relies on USB Type-C for audio output. Sadly, the company does not sell USB Type-C based headphones, nor it has included one in the box. But it does sell Buds Air TWS, which has been one of the top-selling true wireless headphones as per our latest research on India Hearables (TWS) Market.

My colleague and Counterpoint Research Director Peter Richardson who is based out of Newbury, England, was also able to try out the X50 Pro. Peter has also shared some of his thoughts on what he feels about the smartphone.

counterpoint realme x50 pro 5g review back

“Like Ritesh, I too am impressed with the build quality of the X50 Pro. The phone feels extremely robust – perhaps largely because its weight and relatively compact size give it a feeling of extreme density. At 205g, it’s not heavy per se, but it feels solid. It is not bomb proof though, no IPX ratings for dust and water resistance are one of the few areas where it makes concessions to flagship devices costing several hundred dollars more,” Peter said.

Smooth 90Hz AMOLED Display

The 6.44-inch Super AMOLED display is one of the key selling points of the smartphone. The panel supports 1080×2400 pixel resolution and is HDR10+ certified to let you enjoy the content that you watch. I used the smartphone to watch Lost in Space on Netflix, and the screen is superb. The color reproduction is good and punchy, the blacks are deep, and while the whites have a minor bluish tint, the overall viewing experience is good.

A screen with a high refresh rate has become a norm for today’s flagship smartphones, and the X50 Pro features a 90Hz refresh rate with a touch sampling rate of 180Hz. Under settings, you can set it to 60Hz, 90Hz, or Automatic, depending on your needs. At 90Hz, the battery will likely drain a little faster. During my usage, I kept the screen refresh rate at 90Hz, and I could get a full day worth battery life, so it is not a big deal as such.

counterpoint realme x50 pro 5g review gaming

Having a high refresh rate offers a smoother visual experience, which you can notice when scrolling through the UI and webpages. It also helps in faster graphics rendering, especially when playing games, but sadly the popular games like PUBG and Fortnite do not support faster refresh rates, as they default at 60Hz. Yes, they cannot take full advantage of the display, but together with UI optimizations and touch sampling rate of 180Hz, gaming speed, and touch response is much smoother.

Stereo Speakers with Dolby Audio

Realme has ensured that the X50 Pro 5G serves as a multimedia device. It features stereo speakers – one at the bottom, and the other is the earpiece that doubles as a speaker when viewing videos or playing games. The output is loud and clear, which makes playing games even more enjoyable. There is also Dolby Audio where you can customize the audio settings based on your needs, or you can choose between Music, Gaming, or Movie modes.

Fluid Performance and Fast Charging Battery

Being a flagship smartphone, it features top-end hardware which includes a 7nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 SoC paired with up to 12GB RAM (LPDDR5) and up to 256GB onboard storage (UFS 3.0). The combination ensures and smooth overall performance be it gaming or web browsing. The latest RAM and storage also ensure faster read / write speeds while reducing power consumption.

Throughout my usage, I did not encounter any stutter or lag, even when playing games at extreme settings. Realme has also included a vapor cooling system to ensure thermal levels are at a low for long gaming hours. And the smartphone does not disappoint. Even after playing PUBG Mobile for over two hours, it was just marginally warm at the back.

Realme has also worked to fine-tune the Android 10 software with Realme OS skin to offer good battery life. I did not face any issues squeezing the battery through the working day and have some more. Even with two hours of PUBG sessions, the battery drain was merely 17%. Armed with a 4,200mAh battery, you get 65W charger in the box that can completely top-up from empty or full in flat 35 minutes, something that is impressive.

“I have also been using the Huawei Mate 20X 5G, a massive 7.2” screen device and built around the older HiSilicon Kirin 980 chipset. It connects to 5G just fine, but with cellular radioactive, the battery life is terrible, which is uncharacteristic for Huawei phones, known for lasting days. The X50 Pro by contrast has few battery performance issues. Even with intensive use, it is sufficient for a long day’s use,” Peter added.

Good Cameras with Hybrid Zoom

For shutterbugs, the smartphone includes a quad-camera setup at the back. It features a primary Samsung GW1 64MP sensor (f/1.8 aperture), paired with an 8MP ultra-wide-angle lens, which also doubles as a macro lens. Realme has also included a 12MP telephoto lens with 5x hybrid zoom support, and 20x digital zoom. There is also a fourth 2MP monochrome sensor for portrait mode. The primary camera supports 4K video recording at 30fps, HD and Full HD recording at 30/60fps. There is also support for UIS video stabilization.

counterpoint realme x50 pro 5g review cameras

Talking about camera performance, the primary 64MP camera uses 4×1 pixel binning tech to capture 16MP photos by default. If you want to capture photos in full resolution, the camera app has a separate mode for that. Do note, a 64MP photo takes about 14-16MB storage space, whereas a 16MP photo takes roughly about 5MB space.

I clicked a couple of photos in 64MP and 16MP resolution. When compared side by side, you will see that 64MP photo has marginally better sharpness and details as you zoom in. Colors are closer to real life, rather than the AI making them punchier in default mode, which is good.

64MP vs 16MP

counterpoint Realme X50 Pro 5G Comparison

Moving to performance, photos shot in bright outdoor conditions offer good details. I liked the dynamic range, sharpness, and color accuracy on the ultra-wide and standard photos that I shot.



Standard (Wide)


Good Zooming Capabilities

Moving on, the telephoto lens offers 2x zooming capabilities, and the zoomed image looks good, without any loss of quality.

2X Optical Zoom


Realme has also included 5x hybrid zoom capabilities which uses a combination of the telephoto lens and the main 64MP camera sensor to enlarge the image without losing quality. And the quality is impressive, considering there is no periscope style zoom lens. You can further zoom to 10x and 20x digital levels, but the quality just tends to deteriorate, which is expected.

5X Hybrid Zoom


Impressive Low Light Mode

Realme’s Night mode has impressed me with its results. It clicks photos at different exposure levels and then combines it into one bright image. If you look at the below photos, the one on the left is what I could see with naked eyes. On the right, you can see the AI working its magic to offer a brighter image. It is not too sharp, but I am happy with the result.

Portrait and Macro Mode

Portrait mode photos shot on the Realme X50 Pro 5G offer a good depth of field while keeping the subject in focus. I also enjoyed clicking photos of pets, which offers good details and background blur.




As mentioned above, the ultra-wide-angle camera also doubles as a macro lens. You can get as close as 3cm to the subject, and the results are impressive as you can see below.



While the Realme X50 Pro 5G does a good job in bright lighting conditions, it struggles in difficult scenarios. In most circumstances the smartphone takes acceptable pictures. However, it can have problems focusing on subjects that are in the foreground – preferentially focusing on background objects. This is most noticeable in difficult lighting conditions, for example when there’s a strong backlight to the subject. In the first picture, my dog’s face is somewhat out of focus, but the hair on her tail is quite sharp, as are some of the objects in the background. However, when shooting indoors, the camera resolves the subject more easily,” Peter added.



Selfies are Decent

On the front, you have dual front cameras in the hole-punch cutout. The setup includes a 32MP primary camera for high-resolution selfies and video calling. It is paired with a secondary 8MP ultra-wide-angle lens for group photographs.

counterpoint realme x50 pro 5g review selfie

The primary camera does a decent job, but even with beauty mode turned off some smudging on the face is visible. The edge detection with portrait mode works well. But I am not happy with the output when you switch to ultra-wide mode as the drop and resolution also affect the photo quality.

Future Proof 5G Connectivity

The Realme X50 Pro 5G is one of the most affordable smartphones in India with 5G connectivity. It relies on sub-6GHz 5G connectivity with support for SA and NSA bands, which means it will work in China, UK, and Europe. Sadly, I could not test 5G as India is still at least a year away from getting the next-gen network, but Peter was able to test 5G in the UK.

“I’ve been putting the X50 Pro 5G through its paces too. I like the phone. It does almost everything that I ask of it extremely well. So much so, that in the few areas that it is deficient to the current crop of premium flagships, I have to remind myself that it’s starting price is just $525, meaning I could buy one of these and a new Apple iPhone SE, with change to spare over the cost of, say, a Samsung Galaxy S20 5G,” Peter said.

counterpoint realme x50 pro 5g speed test

“Testing 5G during the lockdown has been a little challenging. While I live in Newbury – home of Vodafone – 5G coverage has not reliably extended to my home. But it is available just down the road. Vodafone has limited 5G spectrum currently; just 50 MHz in the 3.4 GHz range, so achieving superfast data speeds is not possible. However, with close proximity to the base station, I was able to achieve download speeds of 240Mbps and upload speeds of 37Mbps, which is about as much as is possible over the current Vodafone network in the UK. This meant I could almost instantaneously start watching a streaming movie, jump to any point in the film with zero buffering. It’s also faster than almost all home fiber broadband provision currently available in the UK” he added.

If you, like me live in a country where there is no 5G network, you still get the assurance of having a future proof smartphone and may probably get to test-drive 5G when traveling abroad. The smartphone also comes with Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, which supports download speeds up to 9.6Gbps.

Verdict: Challenging the Flagship Killer

The Realme X50 Pro 5G is a solid flagship smartphone. It checks in the right boxes from 5G connectivity to super-fast charging and good cameras. The Chinese smartphone maker is also offering top of the line hardware along with fine-tuned software. Features like 90Hz refresh rate display, Dolby Atomos, and in-display fingerprint scanner add up to the flagship experience at its price point.

The Realme smartphone will give a tough challenge to the recently launched OnePlus 8. On paper, Realme has better cameras, fast charging capabilities, and aggressive pricing that could work in its favor. Though, OnePlus has a slight advantage when it comes to software with closer to stock Android experience.

Also Read: Strategic Reviews and Insights on The Latest Smartphones

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Podcast: OnePlus 8 Series – Flagship Killer to a Killer Flagship

OnePlus has launched its latest flagship smartphones in the US, UK, China and Indian markets. There are two devices – the premium OnePlus 8 Pro and a compact and affordable OnePlus 8. Both smartphones draw their power from a 7nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 SoC, and feature 5G connectivity. But what OnePlus has managed to do in the display, battery and charging department is impressive.

The new smartphones now come with a better display in collaboration with Pixelworks. The company has also added 30W fast wireless charging on the “Pro” model, which isn’t available on competitor flagship smartphones. There is also IP68 certification for water and dust resistance. The new and improved features on the “Pro” make for a good upgrade, from a “flagship killer to a killer flagship.”

In the latest podcast, “The Counterpoint Podcast” host Ritesh Bendre, research analysts Karn Chauhan and Maurice Klaehne share their thoughts and insights on the OnePlus 8 Series potential and outlook.

Hit the play button to listen to the podcast

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Samsung Unpacked Event – Lots of Folds, Pixels and 5G

Samsung Unpacked 2020 event had lots of energy and hardware announcements. In an era where it is very difficult to differentiate, Samsung did an admirable job, unveiling four smartphones and updated Galaxy Buds. It was the first Unpacked event for President & Head of Mobile Communications Business, TM Roh.

Here are the key announcements from the event:

Samsung Z Flip at UNPACKED


A New Folding Galaxy:

The event was kicked-off by the elegant Z Flip. It is a radical change from the Galaxy Fold which closed in a ‘book’ format. The Z Flip is a clam-shell foldable. The device is compact, symmetrical, and the first square smartphone since the Nokia 7705 Twist. The device uses ultra-thin glass that folds, according to Samsung, over 200,000 times without stress lines. The clamshell and design are a superior form factor than last year’s ‘book’ fold and Samsung did a much better job protecting the display as it is more recessed. The hideaway hinge is a unique implementation that allows the display angle to be less severe.

The Z Flip has some useful multi-tasking capabilities. Users will get YouTube premium included–a nice enticement. This is not yet a high-volume device. It is $1,380 and it is not 5G-capable. However, each iteration is seeing massive improvements, and this form factor is the future.


Samsung S20 at UNPACKED

S20, S20+, S20 Ultra:

The first Galaxy S launched in 2010—a full decade of Galaxy devices have ensued. The S20 is a sizable upgrade for the new decade. Samsung unveiled three smartphones focusing on camera technology, AI, and 5G.

Key selling points of the S20 family–choose your display size. Display sizes are 6.2 inches for the S20, 6.7 inches for the S20+, and 6.9 inches for the S20 Ultra. The OLEDs are bright, vibrant, and support 120Hz. The S20 feels ‘compact’ relative its brothers and can actually be used with one hand. The S20+ and S20 Ultra, because of the near edge-to-edge display and thinness, feel smaller than 6.7 inches and 6.9 inches.

Camera capabilities are the sexy headlines. First, the device can shoot, share, and view 8k video. It is also possible to crop a single frame from a video. The megapixel wars are back! The Ultra sports a 12MP, 48MP, and a 108MP (ultra-wide angle, telephoto, wide angle). Under the branding name, “space zoom”, the camera configuration can magnify up to 100x. Yes, after 50x it becomes pixelated, but what a feat within the thinness of a phone to have binocular-like zoom.

Not as sexy, but the best utility is ‘single take’. The camera takes multiple shots, chooses the best filters, and the shooter can confirm it is their favorite. The automation is key.

Other key launch day notes:

  • 5G use cases were rare, but video calls with Google Duo will suffice.
  • Remember the early LTE smartphones and their battery performances? Not to fear. These are day-long batteries at 4,000mAh, 4,500mAh and 5,000mAh.
  • All the devices are run by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865. Samsung also chose Qualcomm’s X55 modem as well as Qualcomm’s ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. In countries where mmWave is needed, Qualcomm’s QTM527 modules are used.
  • LPDDR5 16GB of RAM—this will be utilized for machine learning capabilities. Samsung states it is 30% faster getting data. We will have to trust Samsung for now.
  • 1.5TB of storage is available. This is not overkill considering the S20-series can shoot, store, and play 8k videos. New stabilizer tech will help 8k video smoothness.


Galaxy Buds+

Galaxy Buds+ were unveiled starting at $149.The improvements include an additional mic for improved ambient sounds—there are now three mics. The update Buds are 30% smaller. Samsung believes version two will be more comfortable and fit in the ear better. Need the Buds+ for a run but battery is dead? Rapid charge 1.5 minutes for over two hours of use. Overall battery life improved two-fold.

Samsung Galaxy Bud+ at UNPACKED

More details after we test the devices further. For volume expectations, see here.

Post Event Coverage: Day 1 Snapdragon Tech Summit :: Qualcomm Accelerates Its 5G Efforts with New Mobile Platforms

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Tech Summit 2019 kicked off on 3rd December in Maui. Qualcomm has billed it as the largest launch event of the year for the company. Qualcomm started the event by giving a 5G rollout update and announced it now has over 230 5G design wins. Highlights from day one included:

  • Snapdragon 865, 765 and 765G:

Qualcomm announced its first-ever integrated 5G platform with the launch of Snapdragon 765 and 765G mobile platforms. Although the hardware details will be disclosed during day two of the event, some of the highlights indicate that Qualcomm is aiming to drive 5G into mid-tier price points in 2020. Interestingly, the 7-series has an integrated modem while the 8-series does not.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G 5G Mobile PlatformAn image clicked using Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G 5G Mobile Platform

Qualcomm Snapdragon 865G 5G Mobile PlatformAn image click using Qualcomm Snapdragon 865G 5G Mobile Platform

Qualcomm has integrated the X52 5G modem into the 765 and 765G series, while the flagship 865 mobile platform will include the Snapdragon X55 Modem-RF system. The granular details are still to come, but some of the key specs of the X52 modem include:

  • Download speeds up to 3.7Gbps
  • mmWave and Sub6 support
  • Dynamic spectrum sharing—4G and 5G devices can share the same FDD channel–meaning carriers do not have to wait to clear spectrum before rolling out 5G
  • Carrier aggregation
  • Non-standalone and standalone 5G

Qualcomm 765 and 765G Opening

  • Snapdragon 865 and 765 5G Modular Platforms:

Qualcomm also announced the Snapdragon 865 and 765 5G modular platforms. Qualcomm aims to replicate the success it had with integrated chipset solutions and its reference design approach from the 3G/4G era. 5G modular platforms aim to help OEMs get over the complexities in the 5G device launch phase and more easily develop broader portfolios. With 5G modular platforms, Qualcomm will be integrating almost all components into two to three modules, enabling an easy layout. These modular platforms are operator certified, have lower development costs and ensure faster time to market for OEMs. Verizon and Vodafone are the first carriers announcing support of the certification program for Snapdragon modular platforms, with more carriers joining in 2020.These modular solutions are not just applicable for smartphones but can also be adopted in adjacent segments like automotive, IoT and wearables.Qualcomm 765 and 865 5G Opening

  • Upcoming 5G devices: Representatives from Motorola, Xiaomi, OPPO, and HMD Global shared the stage making product announcements and complimenting the new Snapdragon designs.

Motorola’s President, Sergio Buniac, announced its commitment to the foldable smartphone segment and how its partnership with Qualcomm will help it to bring more 5G phones in 2020. Motorola stressed the importance of how the Snapdragon 765 platform will be critical in expanding 5G in different markets. Motorola also announced profitability for five quarters running.

Xiaomi’s, Co-founder and Vice Chairman, Lin Bin announced the upcoming Mi 10 smartphone powered by the Snapdragon 865 platform. Xiaomi also announced that, to date, 427 million Qualcomm powered Xiaomi smartphones have been shipped. In fact, all premium-tier devices from Xiaomi since 2011 have been powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon. Xiaomi is also planning to launch more than ten 5G smartphones in 2020.

OPPO’s Vice President, Alen Wu, highlighted how the partnership with Qualcomm helped it to launch its first 5G commercial phone in the European market. OPPO is accelerating its Global 5G deployment. It is working with 11 operators in seven countries to launch 5G products in these markets as part of its 5G landing project. It is also launching its first smartphone with the Snapdragon 865 platform in Q1 2020 and the Reno 3 Pro with Snapdragon 765 platform.

HMD Global, Chief Product Officer, Juho Sarvikas, highlighted the approach to 5G with a focus on Snapdragon 765 to deliver premium flagship experiences in the affordable segment. Nokia phones will be covering the highest number of 5G new radio bands in both mid and low bands with the goal of holding a 5G connection longer. This will also help 5G roaming. Nokia will also leverage Qualcomm to highlight its PureView imaging story and likely incorporate its modular platforms.

Other Chinese OEMs and ODMs are planning to launch 5G devices with Qualcomm chipsets in 2020 and beyond. These include BlackShark, Coolpad, iQOO, Lenovo, Meizu, Nubia, OnePlus, Realme, Smartisan, TCL, vivo, Wingtech, ZTE, and 8848.

Qualcomm Tech Summit 2019

  • Sonic Max, a new fingerprint-scanning technology

Qualcomm unveiled 3D Sonic Max, which is the updated version of Qualcomm’s ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. 3D Sonic Max sensor recognition areas are 17 times bigger than the previous generation and can read two fingerprints at the same time enabling extra authentication and comes with much-improved security levels. Qualcomm is aiming for a one in a million-accuracy rate which is similar to Apple’s accuracy claim on face ID.

  • Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile are all committed to mmWave

A key theme of Qualcomm was echoed by the three largest operators in the US—low bands will be used for blanket 5G support and mmWave be used for ‘performance’. Each carrier made news with a 5G announcement. T-Mobile announced it has turned on its 600MHz 5G network, covering over 200 million people and over 5,000 cities. Verizon announced new 5G innovation centers and that 5G will reach 30 US cities by year-end. AT&T announced its Band 14 (700MHz) FirstNet network is 75% complete. It also announced a new rural disaster response network which can be deployed from an airship.

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