The first round of Always Connected PCs didn’t seem to go to well, but it seems Microsoft’s partners are ready for another go. Qualcomm has announced a new processor designed for Windows 10 on ARM, promising better performance, battery life, and connectivity.

The Snapdragon 850 is a bespoke version of the Snapdragon 845 that debuted on the Galaxy S9 and OnePlus 6. Like the 845, it sits on a second-generation 10nm process, with an X20 cellular modem, with some major improvements.

In terms of performance, Qualcomm says users can expect a 30% increase versus the previous 835. That combines with 20% better battery life and 20% higher peak gigabit data speeds, as well as hardware and software tuning for PC activities.

Second Time Lucky

The hope is to make Microsoft’s new platform comparable to regular laptops, but the results have been mixed so far. Reviews of Always Connected PCs from this spring note sluggish behavior and a lack of compatible apps.

Since then, Microsoft has rolled out essential SDK tools that let developers recompile for ARM64. So far, Canonical, OpenVPN, and VLC media player are on board, with more expected soon.

The draw for users is a truly mobile workstation. One that will always have a cellular connection, can survive many hours of standby and will last for days. Qualcomm notes up to 25 hours of local video playback with the 850, which is basically unheard of.

The chipmaker is also touting support for 10-bit HDR video and Hi-Fi surround sound to aid that movie watching experience. It will combine with a Spectra 280 image signal processor for better low light capability and 4K, 60fps video.

PCs with the new hardware will launch in time for the holiday season, crafted by a wider range of OEM’s than the 835’s Asus, HP, and Lenovo.