Qualcomm announces its midcycle chip upgrade today: the Snapdragon 865 Plus. As always, these "Plus" chips are higher-clocked versions of the key designs released earlier this year, but new for the 865 Plus is Wi-Fi 6E compatibility.
First, the speed increases: Qualcomm promises a 10 percent faster CPU and GPU thanks to faster clock speeds. The CPU is now officially set to 3.1 GHz, and since the Snapdragon 865's GPU runs at 600 MHz, the Plus version should be around 660 MHz.
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The big news, however, is the addition of Qualcomm's "FastConnect 6900" connectivity chip, which along with top speeds of up to 3.6 Gbps brings Wi-Fi 6E to smartphones. Wi-Fi currently works in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies, but 6E extends Wi-Fi to the 6 GHz spectrum. The theoretical maximum speeds will not increase, but the additional spectrum will help make Wi-Fi work better in crowded areas. You can only fit as many bits into the current 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz airways. If you and all of your neighbors fill the air waves and cause a traffic jam, everyone will have to slow down. Six gigahertz Wi-Fi will add more lanes to traffic.
In the US, Wi-Fi 6E will actually support many more lanes. The FCC has assigned 70 MHz total spectrum for 2.4 GHz and 500 MHz spectrum for 5 GHz Wi-Fi. The new 6 GHz Wi-Fi 6E is approved for an additional 1.2 GHz spectrum, giving Wi-Fi 6E users total access to three times the spectrum available today. Users who upgrade to 6E have much more spectrum, and users who do not upgrade are less competitive with the older 2.4 and 5 GHz spectrum.
You need a new Wi-Fi 6E access point and a Wi-Fi 6E device to use Wi-Fi 6E. In the United States, the new standard was not ratified by the FCC until April, so there are no 6E access points for consumers yet. However, we have to start somewhere, and it looks like smartphones will make the leap first. The Qualcomm press release mentions that one of the first phones to launch the Snapdragon 865 Plus (and probably Wi-Fi 6E) will be the Asus ROG Phone 3, which will be released on July 22nd.