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You’ll be able to unlock future Android phones without touching them

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Qualcomm has announced a new smartphone chip called the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, and while it looks set to provide future phones with a big performance boost, it will also enable users to unlock their phone by simply looking at the camera. 

Existing Android phones that support facial recognition need to be woken beforehand (either by lifting up the phone or pressing a button) before it can start scanning your face. However, with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, Qualcomm has implemented an ‘always-on camera’ feature that allows the sensor to detect your face even when the phone is on stand-by mode. 

Qualcomm has achieved this by integrating an ISP (Image Signal Processor) into the chip’s low-power Sensing Hub, which the company claims will also prevent a compromise to the battery life. 

This means that if you want to check the time or a new message on your phone, you could theoretically just look at it in order to make the homescreen flash up. It could also speed up the process of logging into your phone, since it could unlock before you’ve even picked it up. 

Unfortunately, Qualcomm is yet to show this feature working in practise, so we can’t comment on the real-time performance just yet. But with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 expected to power the next flagship Samsung Galaxy phone, it won’t be long until you can try it out for yourself. 

Qualcomm is expected to launch several other smartphone chips in the new ‘Gen 1’ wave, but it’s currently unknown whether these chips will also support this “always-on camera” feature or whether it will only be available on high-end Android phones.

It’s not just facial-recognition unlocks that will benefit from the always-on camera either. Qualcomm revealed that it will also allow you to scan QR codes without unlocking your phone.

The upcoming Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip will provide plenty of other benefits too, with Qualcomm suggesting it has seen a 20% performance increase for the CPU compared to the previous generation, and a 30% boost for the GPU. 

The capture quality of the camera, for both photography and video, will also be enhanced. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 supports 8K HDR video recording, while the new 18-bit ISP captures 4000x more camera data than its 14-bit predecessor. Low-light capture has been given a major upgrade too, with Qualcomm claiming that photos will be brighter, clearer and more colourful than previous generations when snapping after dark. 

For more details on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, make sure to check out our hub article. 

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