At the unveiling of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 earlier this month, Microsoft and Qualcomm announced “always-connected” Windows 10 notebook PCs with LTE support and batteries that last throughout the day. For Microsoft’s part, this new initiative is separate from the previous Windows RT releases, as these systems can seamlessly run
x86-64 32-bit x86 apps. A newly discovered commit indicates that Snapdragon 845-powered Chromebooks are being developed as well.
The new commits include the “cheza” board powered by “chipset-qc845.” While this would not be the first ARM-powered Chromebook, this would be the first time that a Qualcomm SoC is used to power a Chromebook. Qualcomm’s previous unwillingness to release and upstream drivers to the mainline Linux kernel is one of the primary encumbrances to building new Android ROMs for older devices. It is possible that new cooperation from the company for Project Treble on the Android side of the hardware equation is paving the way forward for using Snapdragon SoCs for longer-lifespan devices like Chromebooks.
So far, options for mobile-connected Chromebooks have been few and far between. Using the Snapdragon 845 in the same way as the new Windows 10 on ARM laptops would be an efficient way to add LTE without needing to add an additional modem. While Google’s CR-48 hardware sample and first generation Chromebook Pixel offered 3G and LTE respectively, the second-generation Chromebook Pixel dropped the LTE option. Seemingly, the last Chromebook to offer LTE support was the Acer Chromebook 15, released in November 2015. For comparison, Google’s new Pixelbook can tether to your phone automatically if a Wi-Fi signal is lost, but the device itself lacks an LTE modem.