Turbocharged superphones spell the end for your PC (and console)

The smartphone revolution isn't done yet. The next generation of phones and tablets are set to awesomise our pockets with a new bag of mobile tricks
Turbocharged smartphones

Forget what you think you know about smartphones. Mobiles are about to power up on a whole new level, thanks to a combination of emerging tech that will lay waste to our current perception of the superphone.

The one-two punch of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 processor paired with LTE-A super 4G means we'll be packing seriously powerful kit in our pockets - and it'll pull data from our cloud-based future at blink-and-you'll-miss-it speeds.

Samsung and LG are both working on flagship handsets that pack the hotrodded Snapdragon 800 silicon with next-gen LTE-Advanced 4G speeds. That means you’ll be able to stream 4K video, enjoy gossamer smooth gaming, have always-on voice controls and download at double the speed of current 4G. All without your battery going dead.

smart race! Samsung, LG and Sony

Turbocharged smartphones
Turbocharged smartphones

Samsung has confirmed a newly-specced version of the Galaxy S4 we know and love will be shipping in its Korean homeland later this month. Mostly, that'll be identical to the S4 elsewhere – 1080p 5in Super AMOLED screen, 2600mAh battery and 13MP camera – but for its hidden superpower: the Snapdragon 800.

Not to be outdone by its age-old rival, LG is prepping a super-specced Optimus G2 with always-on voice commands (like the Xbox One, but without the power supply). It too has a 5in 1080p display for when you lose your voice and have to jab orders into the touchscreen like the olden days.

Whichever phone you want to hold out for, Qualcomm reckons you're in for a treat in the battery department, with better usage performance and charging speeds "up to 75 per cent faster than USB charging."

First out of the blocks with the new silicon will be the mighty 6.4in Sony Xperia Z Ultra, which plans to be the stage on which Qualcomm's latest mobile processor makes its debut. Sony's turbocharged handset will lack the hyperspeed LTE-A 4G of its Korean rivals, mind.

Sounding off...

In addition to its 4K visual smarts, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 processor is also capable of Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 virtual surround sound. My ears had the pleasure of testing this out first-hand at E3, and I was genuinely blown away.

I honestly couldn't tell the difference between the actual speakers and the virtual Snapdragon 800-powered surround sound with headphones on. People were taking their headphones off halfway through the demo, expecting the speakers to still be playing, but they weren't. Truly impressive stuff.

That's not a benchmark

Turbocharged smartphones

As you can see the graphic ability of the Snapdragon 800 is impressive. Especially as the Tegra 4 isn't even out yet. Qualcomm claims the 800 will be on a par with the 600 for battery consumption in spite of its stunning graphical performance. But what does that mean for us?

This amount of power coupled with connectivity could threaten our current view of computing - are we edging towards the death of non-mobile computers? When you can edit video, write documents, game and code from your pocket device - and by voice, no less - what future is there for clumsy clamshell laptops? In the case of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra with its 6.4in screen you can even type fairly comfortably.

Gaming revolution

Turbocharged smartphones
Turbocharged smartphones

With the power of the Snapdragon 800 coupling itself to cloud gaming servers, graphical processing will step into a new realm that could make the Tegra 3 toting Ouya old before it lands. Qualcomm sees a near future where your phone becomes your console, using its power, wireless connectivity and HDMI smarts to display the games you're playing on your HDTV while taking orders from a paired controller.

The company also reckons LTE Advanced has the potential to reach theoretical data speeds of up to 1Gbps. Samsung head honcho JK Shin agrees; he thinks the tech will be "mainstream" on a global level. That would transform the abilities of tomorrow's mobile devices and put gaming - and work, and everything else - in our pockets.