The arrival of microprocessors after the advent of android marked a contrasting shift from the trend of traditional smartphones. Snapdragon was one of the very first to take responsibility to arm modern smartphones with the power they need. Snapdragon is Qualcomm’s most iconic microprocessor in the Android world.
Many premium brands like Samsung use them in their phones, particularly the Galaxy S series which is famous for using the top tier of the snapdragon processors. But these processors are not limited to just Samsung. They also power LG, one plus and many other OEM phones that don’t manufacture their own processors for their flagship phones. A striking fact is that even though Samsung has its own series of Exynos processors, which it uses mostly in carrier phones; it still prefers snapdragon in its international versions. Snapdragon is so popular, that I can say there are high chances that the device you are using to read this article has a Snapdragon in it.
Bear in mind though that Snapdragon is not reserved for flagship phones only and there are multiple tiers of these processors which are intended for phones at various price ranges. These processors have different varying features and affect the performance of phones in multiple ways. Let us break down processors from all the tiers and see what kind of performance can you expect from a phone with a snapdragon installed.
Snapdragon 800 Series — Premium
This series is the top of the line, the alpha and omega, the boss of all. Currently, the 865 and 865 plus are the most high-end processors that you can currently get from snapdragon. These are the most powerful chipset that gives you enthusiast-level performance.
It has a very complex CPU cluster formation. It is known as the tri cluster semi-custom arrangement which features one Cortex A77 running at a clock speed of 2.84 GHz and three other Cortex A77 cores which are clocked down a bit at 2.4 GHz. They come with four low power cores and highly efficient Cortex a55 cores coupled with Qualcomm’s iconic Adreno graphics chip that is leading the industry because of its sheer power and awesome capabilities. In 865 you will find an Adreno 650 installed.
In comparison, the 865 plus offers a much higher clocked prime CPU running at 3.1 GHz. The other cores are the same as the 865 regular edition. The plus edition also has almost ten percent of graphics boost owing to the boost in clock speed which can utilize the GPU to its max. The plus edition also supports WIFI 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 as compared to the WIFI 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 on the regular version.
This series is snapdragon’s flagship. Back in 2018, snapdragon used two clusters of high performing and power-saving cores, but in 2019 we saw for the very first time a three-tier system, which incorporated heavy-duty, medium performance and purely power-saving cores; very much like engine jets.
Qualcomm has also invested in other departments as well like modems, GPUs and IS processors in cameras, but those processors are nowhere similar to the 800 series which is a whole package in itself; a powerhouse for your Smartphone. As the industry has shifted towards machine learning, their devices have also benefited from the top tier of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors. The 800 series uses the Hexagonal digital signal processing for such complex tasks which is particularly seen in the 865’s duo 698 DSP that has a Tensor accelerator which makes it almost 35 percent more power efficient as compared to the previous-gen ML focused silicone-based chips.
But how does that benefit you in the real world? In plain terms, this means that tasks like face recognition, image stabilization, language processing, fingerprint scanning etc will be much faster and will consume much less power. The 865 series is also powerful enough to do on-device voice translation as well. The 800 series is also 5G capable which means that it will support the mmWave and 6 GHz standard. Although Qualcomm is not the only player in town and other rival chipsets including the Samsung Exynos and Huawei’s Hisilicon Kirin and even Mediatek are producing some of the high-quality chipsets known. Qualcomm however, is known as the boss of them all and their 800 series has proved it again.
Snapdragon 865/Plus phones
- Samsung Galaxy S20 – Check it here
- Xiaomi Mi 10 series – Check it here
- LG V60 – Check it here
- Sony Xperia 1 II – Check it here
It is expected that in 2020 all the flagship phones will be using the 865 chipsets, however, the 845 still remains attractive to most of the manufacturers owing to its affordable price. If you are looking for a performance phone that will last you years, then 865 chipset is something you should keep in mind as it will be worth your investment.
Snapdragon 845 and Snapdragon 835: What should you choose?
The 865 is not likely to make its way to all of the phones until the end of 2020 so 845 is your best bet. However, there is a little difference in features and a lot of difference in price when you compare it to 835. So should you really buy a phone with 845?
- Qualcomm claims that 845 is about 35 percent faster than the previous-gen.
- 845 is the first one to have a DynamIQ architecture and will improve the battery life up to 30 percent.
- The 845 has a separate SPU unit which is specifically dedicated to storing the biometric scans to make the device more secure.
- The 845 also has Kryo 385 gold cores that are running at 2.8 GHz with an integrated Adreno 640 GPU.
- Furthermore, it also supports 4k video recording at 60 fps.
Snapdragon 700 series
Then 700 series isn’t that simple to define. It is not a high end but not a mid-range either. That is because the products in this very series have several variations among themselves. I would call them the upper mid-range tier. That is to say, they are the top of the line among the mid-end range of all processors at this price range. There is a very thin line among the 600 series and the lower end 700 series.
The 765 is the most popular processor in this series as it is Qualcomm’s first mid-range 5g supported chipset. This has a triad layout with 1+1+6 arrangement. The 765 series, in particular, is different from all other 700 series as it is the most heavily tweaked CPU plus the addition of the Adreno 620. This makes us realize that it is indeed intended for people who are into mobile gaming.
This processor also supports the mmWave and sub 6 GHz technology when it comes to Wifi support. The construction is a tiny 7nm which beats all other chipsets at this range. Small manufacturing generally means that processors are more power-efficient. As they keep on moving towards smaller and smaller manufacturing, they get more power-efficient.
Snapdragon 768 G
There is another step-up to the 765 which is the 768G which is basically an overclocked version of the 765 with almost the same specs. This gives the GPU a 15 percent boost as well. Plus you also get 5.2 Bluetooth as well. Although this processor is not used by many phones. In fact, only one phone uses this chipset which is the Redmi K30 racing edition
Snapdragon 730 and 720G
If you look at the 730 and snapdragon 720G, they have quite some things in common. Both are octa-core featuring Cortex A76 CPU and six Cortex-A 55 cores which is a standard for Qualcomm’s octa-core chipsets.
Snapdragon 710 and 712
The 710, however, is a trimmed down version of 730 with the 712 being a slight upgrade to the regular version. These processors have a 2 plus 6 layout but these chipsets use the older A75 Cortex instead of the A76 used in the newer processors. But when it comes to single-core performance all the 700 processors are almost the same.
These processors lack the CPU and GPU power as compared to the 800 series but they have much in common as well. For example, both of them feature Hexagonal DSPs for machine learning and support for both 90 and 120 Hz refresh. Of course, owing to inferior architecture and lower clock speeds, these features will perform slowly as compared to the 800 series, nonetheless, including these features in the upper mid-range chipsets is a welcoming change.
The 712 and the 710 also offer GPUs which are inferior to the 800 series but considering the current game market, they should be able to handle all the new game titles pretty well. Furthermore, they also support 192 MP snapshots and multi frame processing capabilities like the HDR. Owing to architectural limitations, you will not be able to record 4k at 60 fps, but 30 fps is almost guaranteed. 60 FPS recording at FHS resolution is also supported.
If you want something that has both the power and features and comes at an affordable price, then the 700 series is your best choice.
Notable phones with Snapdragon 710, 712, 720G, 730/G, 765/G, 768G
- Xiaomi Mi note 10 – Check it here
- Oneplus Nord – Check it here
- Xiaomi Redmi K30 Racing Edition – Check it here
- Poco x2
- Realme 6 pro – Check it here
- Realme x2 – Check it here
- Motorola Razr – Check it here
Snapdragon 600 series
Snapdragon 600 is the best value for money. The 700 is known to have bridged the gap between the high end and mid-range phones but the 600 series is focused on bringing performance at a lower price. While this may be true for many processors in the snapdragon 600 series, the 690 has the specs which can give it the same footing a 765 has.
This has an 8nm architecture and the 690 is the first 5G enabled chipset. You won’t get the mmWave technology here as compared to the more expensive chipsets but they do have the sub 6 GHz 5G support. But don’t mistake this for a lack of performance. This chipset is powered by octa-core CPUs (2 Cortex A77 and 6 Cortex A55 and a high performing Adreno 619 L GPU). This gives it a boost of almost 20 percent as compared to the Snapdragon 675.
With this processor, you get 4K video recording in HDR for the very first time which is excellent. The tensor accelerator empowers machine learning and helps in tasks like photo and video capture and reduces the file size. This is also helpful in using smart features like advanced wifi.
If you go down a bit, you will see the 675 and 670. Both of these chipsets have quite a lot in common and quite a few differences in some of the key features. Both the chipsets have Cortex A76 and A75 processor cores which are paired with low power consumption A55 cores. It also has a powerful GPU although not as good as the 700 series. It has Bluetooth 5 support, quick charging support and 4K recording as well. By default, it also supports 48MP shots as well with multi-frame processing.
If you trim down some performance even further, you will see the Snapdragon 665. This is a slight improvement over its predecessor, the 660. Both the chipsets have older CPU cores which are 4 Cortex A73 and 4 Cortex A53. These processors don’t have any multi-frame processing and HDR so if you need 108 MP shots, then this is not for you.
The snapdragon 662 has recently been launched and it is essentially a clone of the 665 with the only difference being the support for HEIF and Bluetooth 5.1. This means better connectivity and better picture quality with reduced file size.
The 630 line is the representation of what the 600 series is all about, that is lower price and inclusion of features as much as possible. These chipsets target a lower price point. These have four Cortex A73 and four Cortex A53 working in unison. Both the chipsets are almost the same but the only difference between them is that the 636 supports the quick charge while 632 does not. When it comes to GPU, you don’t get something top of the line but an Adreno 505 which is best for consuming multimedia but may not be suitable for gaming.
The Snapdragon 600 series hovers somewhere between the midrange and lower range. While they may be at the lower end of the spectrum, day to day tasks such as navigation, loading apps and listening to music won’t be an issue.
Some Snapdragon 600 series phones
- Google Pixel 3a – Check it here
- Redmi Note 8 – Check it here
- Motorola Moto G8 – Check it here
- Samsung Galaxy A70 – Check it here
Snapdragon 400 series
These are the lowest-performing chipsets from snapdragon which are designed for entry-level phones. However, the latest chipsets in the 400 series are a massive improvement over their predecessors.
The most notable chipset from this series is the 460 which is a lot like the 662 as it has Cortex A73 and Cortex A53 CPU cores with the same Adreno GPU and support for Bluetooth 5.1 and HEFI. Surprisingly, it also supports 48 MP multi-frame capturing. But hold your horses as this processor is not expected to be available until the end of 2020.
These chipsets are readily available in most of the entry-level smartphones these days. They are made of low powered octa-core CPUs with Cortex A53 cores. They will give very nice LTE speeds and a good day to day performance. But you don’t get top of the line GPU here as it comes with a low powered Adreno 500. This means that it is not intended for gamers as it will struggle in most of the high-end games like PUBG, COD, Asphalt 9 and the likes of them. With that being said, they are extremely power efficient and will provide a good battery time owing to their 12nm manufacturing.
The chipset that is at the lowest end of the spectrum is the 429. It is not only a low performing chipset but it also has a reduced number of cores. With only 4 Cortex A53 cores in it can support two cameras with 8 MP or one with a 16 MP sensor. It also supports HD+ resolution and not FHD but the good thing is that it has quick charge support and Bluetooth 5 capabilities as well. If you are buying a phone with this chipset, don’t expect smooth gaming and triple cameras.
As mentioned before that this series is intended for entry-level phones so you will have no problems in day to day activities like using social media, browsing the web, calling on WhatsApp etc. But if you want gaming at 60 FPS and the latest Bluetooth features with multiple cameras supports and FHD resolution, then you need to look elsewhere.
Snapdragon 400 series phones
- Samsung Galaxy A20s – Check it here
- Xiaomi Redmi 8 – Check it here
- Motorola Moto G6 – Check it here
- Nokia 4.2 – Check it here
Benchmarking your processor – What is Centurion Mark?
Centurion mark is a performance rating system for processors. The credit goes to tech centurion for developing such an amazing tool. What separates this tool from the rest is that it doesn’t give results based on raw theoretical performance only; rather it includes data from various sources which includes raw performance, features, the price per feature, issues, and user experience. This means that issues arising after usage are also kept in mind for example if the processor overheats or lags in the real world usage, it will cost the processor points in the benchmark as well. If the chipset is optimized, it will have additional points.
They have a complex algorithm that scores the performance and features of these chipsets. After it passes through the algorithm, the results are manually altered based on the user experience. So taking into account the raw performance, user experience, optimization, and real-world performance, we can determine the results in this benchmark which will closely match the data of how the user experience with a particular processor was.
Here is how the above-mentioned processors performed in the Centurion benchmark.
- The most heavily penalized processor was the snapdragon 810 because of overheating issues and thus thermal throttling that comes with it. A similar situation occurred with the Snapdragon 652 and 617 and they along with some other processors were penalized because of overheating.
- The raw performance of the 650 series was better than that of 630, but in terms of memory management, modem technology, and other user experiences gave them an overall higher score than the 650s.
How is Centurion Mark Calculated?
The processors having similar scores will be considered to be equivalent.
Any processor that delivers test results of above 125 is an excellent choice for gaming, heavy-duty usage, and for overall experience as well. This is the most recommended category for users who want the best experience out of their phones.
Chipsets falling under this slab are great for general use as well as gaming. If you are buying a phone that falls under this score, then consider it to be a mid-range phone. Don’t expect top of the line performance, but they are certainly worth it considering their price.
Processors in this range are considered to be above average and not average. With these processors, you are unlikely to observe any kind of overheating or lag issues. The 810 may also fall in this category as well which is known to have thermal issues. If you are buying a phone from this category then avoid the 810 at best.
The chipsets from this range are average but acceptable. The performance is not great but is not bad either. These chipsets can have occasional issues such as lags and thermal throttling.
If you are buying an entry-level phone at the cheapest price, you can go with these chipsets otherwise it is best to avoid them as their performance is below average.