Bottom line: The Snapdragon 865 Plus 5G is a welcome upgrade over the standard version of the chipset, but despite the designation it still has to be paired with a separate modem for 5G connectivity. Qualcomm says the new SoC should deliver around 10 percent higher performance when compared to the regular version.
Qualcomm is getting back into the habit of releasing a mid-cycle refresh for its high-end mobile platform. This is essentially a binned variant of the chipset that is able to reach higher stable clocks for that extra bit of performance that's needed in gaming-oriented smartphones and augmented reality apps. There's no integrated 5G modem, which means that Nokia, Google, and LG will avoid it just like they've done with the standard Snapdragon 865.
The company says the new Snapdragon 865 Plus 5G should deliver around 10 percent higher performance when compared to the regular version. The new SoC achieves this by having the Kryo 585 CPU go up to 3.1 GHz, or essentially a 10 percent overclock. And while there's no official info on the maximum clock speed for the Adreno 650 GPU, we can assume it's around 10 percent higher than the 587 MHz possible with the standard Snapdragon 865.
Still, the most important improvement is the addition of the previously-announced FastConnect 6900 chip that supports Wi-Fi 6E. This is a first for smartphones and will enable connections over the 6 GHz spectrum in addition to 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz , essentially adding more lanes for traffic and improving Wi-Fi reliability in crowded areas.
As with the Snapdragon 855 Plus, the new Snapdragon 865 Plus is part of Qualcomm's Elite Gaming portfolio, meaning the company will constantly optimize graphics drivers for popular mobile games and will offer those updates via the Play Store.
Asus says it will integrate the new chip inside the upcoming ROG Phone III and Lenovo is also preparing a Legion-branded smartphone for sometime later this year. Qualcomm says there will be at least 140 devices sporting the Snapdragon 865 Plus 5G, all of which will need a separate modem for 5G connectivity.