Qualcomm and Microsoft have announced a partnership at Computex that means Windows 10 devices running on the Snapdragon 835 are coming. The first manufacturers have been announced and we have an idea of things like release date, prices and features.
Like us, you’re probably used to almost all new Windows devices, be it a laptop or a tablet, having some form of Intel processor inside. Well that’s about to change thanks to this new partnership. Also see: Asus ZenBook Flip S review.
Windows 10 on Snapdragon 835 release date, price and manufacturers
We’re excited about the prospect of new Windows 10 running on Snapdragon 835 which will come initially from HP, Lenovo and Asus.
Qualcomm said "commercial devices are expected to be available in the second half of 2017" with mid-range prices of $400-700. These devices might even be available on a contract plan like phones.
At Qualcomm's 4G/5G Summit in October, there was still no news on these devices but two devices have been unveiled at the firm's Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii on 5 December.
First up is the Asus NovaGo, a convertible laptop that will start at $599. The second is the HP Envy x2 which is a detachable and will be available 'spring 2018' - we expect the NovaGo release date to be similar.
Finally, Lenovo's Miix 630 was announced at CES 2018, a detachable 2-in-1 that starts from $799, and will be available from Q2 2018.
How does it work?
Although you’re likely used to seeing Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips inside devices like smartphones, it doesn’t mean the platform can’t be used for Windows, too.
By and large, the SoC (system on a chip) is the same as the one inside mobile phones but it’s a slightly different SKU so it works better with Microsoft’s operating system.
Qualcomm has versions for things like drones and in this case it has a higher peak performance to deal with the kind of tasks it will have to deal with.
Read our Snapdragon 835 benchmark results.
Windows 10 on Snapdragon 835 features
You might be wondering why we need devices running on Qualcomm rather than Intel, but the firm claims it will bring a number of benefits to users including two of the most sought after.
One of the big advantages will supposedly be battery life with current claims being overestimations, according to Qualcomm.
The 10nm Snapdragon 835 can offer better battery life in devices in various ways. One of which is making room for a bigger battery because the chip and accompanying board are smaller than rivals – 30 percent smaller.
The chip also does things efficiently, bringing BIGlittle architecture to Windows 10 for the first time. This means lower power cores can handle tasks leaving the higher clocked, juice hungry, cores idle.
Qualcomm promises true ‘all day’ battery life with these upcoming devices. You can expect up to 50 percent longer battery life compared to ‘a competing solution’ and four or five time better connected standby.
We could be looking at a multiple day battery life with Pete Bernard, principal group program manager for connectivity partners at Microsoft saying he uses a device on a daily basis and only needs to charge every couple of days.
"Battery life is really, really good. In fact, it's beyond our expectations," said Bernard.
Christiano Amon, executive vice president at Qualcomm then provided a more detailed update on battery life stating that these devices will be able to manage up to 29 hours of Netflix playback over LTE.
He added that "We're looking at all-day computing with everything on in excess of 16, 17, 18 hours." This seems to back up the comments from Bernard about multi-day battery performance.
Another big area, especially with younger users, is the expectation to be always connected. This is something that on the laptop side of things is rarely the case due to a reliance on Wi-Fi.
With integrated Gigabit X16 LTE, the Snapdragon 835 can off always on connectivity much like a smartphone. Future models, potentially with the X50 modem, will be 5G enabled.
Thanks to an eSIM, consumers will have a simpler experience and may be able to add one of these new devices to an existing plan.
Windows 10 as you know it
You might be wondering whether you can use Windows 10 as you normally would or if this might be a second round of the Windows RT nightmare.
Well in a word, yes you can just use it as any other Windows 10 devices, you shouldn’t notice a difference.
This is partly thanks to Microsoft’s x86 emulation engine meaning you can download and run any legacy Windows applications.
Qualcomm’s manufacturing partners might be going after the iPad Pro here but not the hardcore gamers. These will be mid-range devices capable of doing a lot of tasks but not everything.
We’re yet to see something like Photoshop demonstrated but we’re assured it will run just fine. Qualcomm says the Snapdragon 835 compute sku is competitive with Intel’s Y chips.