Qualcomm makes unarguably some of the best SoCs in the mobile world. By each passing year, we see more and more budget/mid-range SoCs showcasing technologies from the elite flagship club which is really heartening that more and more customers are getting the best of technology at affordable prices. Another such flag bearer for the budget cause is the all new Snapdragon 636 by Qualcomm, which is the first mid-range SoC to run on Qualcomm’s ‘magical’ Kryo CPU cores, what It means is supercharged performance and efficiency. But Qualcomm isn’t the only one making great SoCs in the world, in recent times, the race to top has become quite heated and don’t we love some epic competition? One such SoC capable of giving Snapdragon 636 nightmares is MediaTek’s all-new Helio P60. Huawei with Its own Kirin lineup is not sitting idle as well, the competition is well placed in the hands of Kirin 659. In this post, we compare some of the most pronounced mid-range SoCs right now.
Snapdragon 630 vs Snapdragon 636 vs Kirin 659 vs Helio P60
Here’s a detailed comparison between 4 mid-range performers - Snapdragon 630 vs Snapdragon 636 vs Kirin 659 vs Helio P60.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 630
Qualcomm announced Snapdragon 630 ‘Mobile Platform’ along with Snapdragon 660 in May 2017. Snapdragon 630 builds upon Snapdragon 626 and is a shining choice in the budget range. It builds upon the already respectable Snapdragon 626 and takes it further with overhauls in nearly all aspects of the SoC. Starting from lithography of the chip, Snapdragon 630 has been built using the newer and smaller 14nm manufacturing process. As it comes with no news, Snapdragon 630 is a 64-bit chip with 8-core CPU made of ARM Cortex-A53s which are clocked at up to 2.2GHz. To power through the graphics tasks, Adreno 508 GPU is onboard which is 30% better than Adreno 506 on Snapdragon 626. Snapdragon 630 has support for dual-channel LPDDR4x RAM having a clock speed of up to 1333MHz.
Snapdragon 630 is one of the first SoCs to get flagship grade Spectra 160 ISP, found on earlier versions Snapdragon 800 series. Along with Spectra 160, Hexagon 642 Digital Signal Processor is also onboard for enhancing ‘Neural Processing’ capabilities besides advancing multimedia and sensor performance. Snapdragon 630 improves tremendously over its predecessors in terms of connectivity with Qualcomm X12 LTE modem baked on the chip encouraging download speeds of up to 600Mbps and upload speeds of up to 150 Mbps. Lastly, Snapdragon 630 gets QuickCharge 4.0, Qualcomm’s proprietary standard for fast charging which can put about 5 hours of juice in a 2750mAh battery in just 5 minutes of charging.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 636
With Snapdragon 636, Qualcomm made Kryo for everyone. Snapdragon 636 marks the entry of Kryo cores into a new territory - Budget devices. Announced by Qualcomm in October 2017, Snapdragon 636 might be a milestone for affordable devices in their pursuit of providing more value to the customers. Compared to Snapdragon 630, Snapdragon 636 features new Kryo 260 cores in two configurations. Being an octa-core chip, 4 of the Kryo 260 are meant to be power efficient cores clocked at 1.8GHz while the other 4 are meant to take on all the heavy-lifting as they are clocked at 2.2GHz. So what’s all fuss about Kryo you might be wondering as we have probably mentioned the term quite many times in past couple of sentences? So Kryo is the name Qualcomm gives to its magically customised processors based on ARM’s Cortex series.
Qualcomm is one of the few companies who have the licence to take ARM’s designs and customise them to create something new. Kryo processors are an example of such tingling with ARMs designs by Qualcomm and ‘tingling’ might be a huge understatement here. In a nutshell, Kryo 260 based Snapdragon 636 has 40% more power at its disposal than Snapdragon 630 which had the same configuration Cortex A53 cores. Kryo series is not very dated in the industry as has got huge appreciation from all corners of the world. Since Its Qualcomm’s original magic sauce, It was only limited to high-end Qualcomm SoCs like the 800 series but that’s not the case anymore.
Snapdragon 636 delivers superior performance in all aspects. Manufactured using 14nm FinFET process, the octa-core CPU is coupled with Adreno 509, which is an incremental update over Adreno 508 found in Snapdragon 630. Apart from this huge makeover, we have the same X12 LTE modem for superfast connectivity with download speeds of up to 600Mbps and upload speeds of up to 150 Mbps. 14-bit, Spectra 160 Image signal processor onboard is capable of taking on cameras of up to 24MP with all the other features such as auto-focus and zoom, super smooth. Hexagon 642 DSP is also present to provide enhanced sensor capabilities with All-Ways Aware.
Last but not the least, Snapdragon 636 is totally compatible with Snapdragon 630 chipsets meaning no hassles for OEMs to use it just out of the gate.
HiSilicon Kirin 659
Kirin 659 - Announced in mid-2017 by Huawei-owned HiSilicon is much like Snapdragon 630 but has its own differences. It is an octa-core SoC targeted at mid-rangers with 8 ARM Cortex A53 cores. Out of these 8 cores, 4 are clocked at 2.36 GHz and take on all the work that requires performance while the other 4 cores, clocked at 1.7 GHz serve as power efficient cores meant for all the routine chores. Kirin 659 is an incremental update over Kirin 658 and is manufactured using a slightly older 16nm process. Kirin 659 is almost similar to Kirin 658 in performance with just a 4% increment in performance which is almost negligible. A significant difference comes in terms of connectivity as Kirin 659 provides better LTE connectivity (category 13).
To power through the graphics workloads, ARM’s MALI T830 MP2 is coupled with the CPU. The 64-bit based LPDDR3 memory controller onboard makes a swift storage performance. The Kirin 659 is dual-SIM capable (LTE category 6) with download speeds of up to 300Mbps. Being a mid-range processor, HiSilicon Kirin 659 offers decent if not best performance in day to day tasks but be ready for occasional hiccups and very strong sneezes if you turn up to some heavyweight games or compute workloads.
Kirin 659 at best can be observed as HiSilicon’s answer to legendary budget champion - Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625 which came in a year earlier, so we am not having high hopes with HiSilicon on this one. The Mali GPU is respectable but gets toppled by the likes of Adreno 506 which is already 2 years old.
MediaTek Helio P60
After the death of Helio ‘X’ series, MediaTek is all set to break the SoC market with the new ‘P’ series, one of the remarkable iterations of this ‘P’ series is found in the MediaTek Helio P60, launched at MWC, 2018. The SoC has been manufactured using TMSCs new 12nm process. It comes as no surprise as MediaTek Helio P60 has an octa-core CPU, packed of new Cortex A53s and A73s. There are 4 Cortex A53s to work up for greater efficiency and battery performance, clocked at 2.0GHz. To power through all the compute-intensive tasks, there are 4 Cortex A73s, also clocked at 2.0GHz. To give you all the oomph while gaming, there’s a Mali-G72 MP3 onboard. The gaming performance is surprisingly amazing, despite the fact that Helio P60 is aimed at budget devices. In our view, it still doesn’t exactly catch up to the might of Adreno 509 on Snapdragon 636.
MediaTek has invested a lot in Helio P60 and it shows. Memory is an important part of the system and Helio P60 is LPDDR4X enabled (dual-channel) at 1800MHz, which leaves behind 1333MHz support on the new Snapdragon lineup. Smartphone cameras have become more than just important in recent years. Manufacturers have fairly moved to dual camera setup and MediaTek has taken good care of that in Helio P60 as It supports dual camera organisation of up to 16MP + 24MP or even a single shooter of up to 32MP. Qualcomm’s Spectra 160ISP on the Snapdragon 636 is a dual-core ISP, MediaTek has built a tri-core ISP in the Helio P60, so It definitely thumps Snapdragons in smartphone photography. MediaTek promises 18% greater battery efficiency for dual-camera setups, which is just one of the many merits of having an extra core in the ISP, besides noise reduction, faster processing and better HDR capabilities. Helio P60 is ready for the futuristic displays as well with support for FHD displays up to a resolution of 20:9, bring those notches on! The display support is clearly better than Snapdragons which support FHD up to 18:9. As is noblesse oblige now, there is fast charging support.
Let’s talk about connectivity because Qualcomm has a really strong footing in this department. Snapdragon 636 houses Qualcomm’s new X12 LTE modem which powers much of the high-end SoCs as well, delivering staggering 600Mbps of download speeds and 150Mbps upload speed. MediaTek Helio P60 now supports Category-7 LTE, so that’s news. The new modem on P60 supports downloads at up to 300Mbps and uploads at up to 150Mbps. Both of the modems are ready for dual-VoLTE support, in case you use dual-sims. MediaTek Helio P60 is a strong rival to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 636 and despite all the Kryo Magic, Helio P60 best Snapdragon 636 in the computing race. Adreno as always is better than any Mali GPU. Being manufactured using 12nm FinFET process, Helio P60 is better at energy efficiency. What we see is a greater competition in the mid-range SoC market, all thanks to MediaTek Helio P60, which definitely holds the guts to beat Snapdragon 636 but Is it gonna be that easy? that remains yet unanswered.
As are the times, all of the SoC manufacturers in discussion here have a lot to talk and showcase in their SoCs revolving around the magic word called ‘Artificial Intelligence or AI’. Qualcomm does that, Kirin boasts about AI and MediaTek is also not holding back. With Helio P60, MediaTek brings NeuroPilot onboard, with the objective of giving a boost to the AI capabilities and development around the SoC. NeuroPilot maintains a efficient sync between CPU, GPU and other resources to get the best AI performance from the SoC. What’s great is that MediaTek is trying to drag developers in for NeuroPilot SDK with support for almost all popular machine learning frameworks including TensorFlow, TensorFlow Lite, Caffe and Caffe 2. NeuroPilot brings MediaTek on the same grounds with the likes of Qualcomm. All we have to say is that the AI-race is getting exciting and bloated.
Benchmarks and Specifications Comparison
So we’ve been through the laundry list of specs, each of the SoCs has on offer. Now, coming to terms with the objective brutality - we’ll talk numbers and for most of us benchmarks are the most decisive way to rank a SoC, right?
Let’s change the order this time, we’ll start with Kirin 659. Kirin 659 scores 3508 on multi-core GeekBench testing while on the single-core tests, It gets 889. On AnTuTu v6, Kirin 659 bags 63195 which is an average score for a mid-range SoC in 2018.
Let’s take Snapdragon 636 through the number machine. The SoC doesn’t fail to amaze us with a 112649 on AnTuTu. The results translate on GeekBench as well with Snapdragon 636 marking 1338 on single core tests and blazing 4864 on multicore tests.The results are numbing for a mid-range SoC and are really a new milestone in the history of affordable devices.
Now, Its time to take our remaining candidate out for a number spin. The Snapdragon 630 scores 68895 on AnTuTu and gets 809 on GeekBench single core tests and a respectable 3810 on multicore tests.
Helio P60, does amazing on benchmarks as well with 1533 and 5845 on GeekBench 4 single core and multi-core tests, respectively. Helio P60 stands strong with 121553 on AnTuTu. As we see, quite clearly MediaTek Helio P60 is beating Snapdragon 636 in compute power.
By now, nothing’s more to tell about how we rank these SoCs. As they say, ‘The numbers say it all’. Snapdragon 636 is a real powerhouse and a true successor in the mid-range category with all that Kryo oomph, we are really excited about the upcoming smartphones that’ll house this amazing chipset. But then there’s Helio P60, nemesis to Snapdragon 636. we expect a lot more smartphones with the P60 onboard, kicking ass.
|Details/Processor||Snapdragon 630||Snapdragon 636||Kirin 659||Helio P60|
|Manufacturing Process||14 nanometre||14 nanometre||16 nanometre||12 nanometre|
|CPU||8 x ARM Cortex-A53 upto 2.0 GHz||8 x Kyro 260 upto 2.2 GHz||4 x ARM Cortex-A53 upto 2.36 GHz + 4 x ARM Cortex-A53 upto 1.7 GHz||4 x ARM Cortex-A53 upto 2.0 GHz + 4 x ARM Cortex-A53 upto 2.0 GHz|
|GPU||Adreno 508||Adreno 509||Mali T830-MP2||Mali G72-MP3|
|Modem||X12 LTE (Download : 600 Mbps, Upload : 150 Mbps)||X12 LTE (Download : 600 Mbps, Upload : 150 Mbps)||Peak Download Speed : 300 Mbps||Peak Download Speed : 300 Mbps, Peak Upload Speed : 150 Mbps|
|Display Support||FHD+ (18:9)||FHD+ (18:9)||FHD+ (18:9)||FHD+ (20:9)|
|Camera||Spectra 160 ISP||Spectra 160 ISP||Integrated ISP||Tri-Core ISP|
|Wi-Fi||11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz + 5GHz) upto 433 Mbps||11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz + 5GHz) upto 433 Mbps||11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz + 5GHz) upto 433 Mbps||11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz + 5GHz) upto 433 Mbps|
|Bluetooth||4.1, BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy)||4.2, BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy)||4.2, BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy)||4.2, BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy)|
|RAM||Dual Channel LPDDR4 1333MHz||Dual Channel LPDDR4 1333MHz||LPDDR3 933MHz||Dual Channel LPDDR4 1800MHz|
|Charging||Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0||Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0||Huawei Supercharge||MediaTek Fast Charging|
Snapdragon 630 vs Snapdragon 636 vs Kirin 659 vs Helio P60 - More than numbers
‘Numbers don’t lie’ but they aren’t everything you should count on while judging a SoC as we’ve discussed in past, benchmarks don’t really translate to real life performance and with more companies trying to cheat on benchmarks to get higher scores - exploiting our blind trust on numbers. So our two cents would be - go beyond just numbers. That’s what we’ll be doing now. There are some key areas which can serve as solid parameters for you to pick a SoC over another. Let’s go through them, knowing which of the Snapdragon 630, Snapdragon 636, Kirin 659 and Helio P60 do better.
Processing Power & Graphics
Starting with Snapdragon 630, we have an octa-core CPU with 4 A53 cores running at 1.8 GHz and other 4 A53 cores clocked at 2.2 GHz. Compared to Snapdragon 636’s new Kryo 260 cores which are also super-charged A53s with 4 cores clocked at 1.8GHz while the others are clocked at 2.2GHz. While you may say that, the ratings aren’t much different, you would be blatantly wrong. Snapdragon 636 houses new Kryo cores which post over 40% increase in performance while saving power. HiSilicon’s Kirin 659 is sort of HiSilicon’s Snapdragon 625 counterpart and a little late to the party with 8 cores, of which 4 are clocked at 2.36 GHz and take on all the work that requires performance while the other 4 cores, clocked at 1.7 GHz. MediaTek’s Helio P60 has some serious power packed in the box as well, with 8 cores - 4 A53s clocked at 2.0GHz for energy efficiency and other 4 Cortex A73 cores for powering thunder through this SoC, clocked at 2.0GHz. The numbers show It quite clearly that, Helio P60 bests event Snapdragon 636 in the computing race. In Raw CPU power, It is conspicuous that Helio P60 does better than Snapdragon 636 which Itself is considerably better than Snapdragon 630 and finally tailed by Kirin 659.
Talking about graphics, Snapdragon 630 houses Adreno 508 which is capable of taking on all the casual games and videos but Its struggle with heavy titles in the Play Store is visible enough. Snapdragon 636, boasts an Adreno 509, which is a refined iteration of Adreno 508 so no major differences in performance, Adreno 509 does a little better on power efficiency front compared to Adreno 508. Helio P60 with Mali G72 MP3 does a great job at gaming but stutters are just round the corner when you push it for some heavy weight titles for longer durations. It gives a good competition but just doesn’t cut it above Adreno 509 on the Snapdragon 636. Kirin 659 seems to be the at the bottom here as well, as the Mali T830 MP2 is just not enough to give Adreno a run for Its money. So If you want the ordering in terms of computing power and graphics, here It is for you.
CPU : Helio P60 > Snapdragon 636 > Snapdragon 630 > Kirin 659
GPU : Snapdragon 636 > Snapdragon 630 >Helio P60 > Kirin 659
More RAM is the new cool right? But what’s important than more RAM is faster RAM. RAM handling capabilities of a SoC come into major play here. RAM is inarguably one of the most important hardware assets in a smartphone. One has got to use it better to do better. Starting with Snapdragon 630 - Which supports dual-channel LPDDR4x RAM having a clock speed of up to 1333MHz up to 8GB. Snapdragon 636 is identical in this aspect with dual-channel LPDDR4x RAM having a clock speed of up to 1333MHz up to 8GB. While the Kirin 659 lags behind these two as It has LPDDR3 RAM having the speed of up to 933MHz. Helio P60 has high standards here as well, with support for dual channel LPDDR4x RAM with support for almost 8GB of RAM, clocked at 1800 MHz. So, when it comes to RAM the rankings stand like this -
Helio P60 > Snapdragon 636 = Snapdragon 630 > Kirin 659
With all the world behind those edge to edge displays, call It being future proof or hating those insipid bezels, the mobile SoC with better support for displays would be the one close to the heart of many. We always say this, displays are what we see at the beginning and at the end too. If a smartphone has a great display but average internals many would love to have that smartphone instead of one with a poor display but better internals. Enough talk, so the thing here is that all the 4 SoCs in competition stand equally as they all can handle FHD+ displays (yeah, 18:9 ones too). Helio P60 goes beyond just 18:9 and is future proof for more weirder display dimensions, come that day with support for 20:9 aspect ratio displays. Bring those notches on! Due to better graphics handling capacity of Snapdragons owing to Adreno 508 and 509 on Snapdragon 630 and 636, we ae slightly inclined towards them in this scenario but this does not mean that Kirin 659 is way behind, It's not. Adreno is a better GPU lineup no doubt but Mali G73 on the Helio P60 isn’t a slouch either. Due to better and more future proof support with Helio P60, the rankings stand as -
Helio P60 > Snapdragon 636 = Snapdragon 630 = Kirin 659
Camera & Video
All that camera greatness lying around in devices that fit in our pockets is all possible because of chips called Image Signal Processors (ISP) which is found on the SoC itself. Since the camera race is more deadly than ever, having a better ISP gives an undeniable edge. Snapdragon 630 and 636 are identical in this aspect as both of them house Qualcomm’s Spectra 160 ISP which is old but flagship grade. So it offers great camera performance, fast autofocus, better frame processing, better HDR and way more than we can fit in here. HiSilicon’s Kirin 659 has homegrown ISP which is decent but I’ll still give it to Spectra 160 as the performance and quality are noticeably better, so thumbs up to all the SoCs but if you are looking for the best camera quality, Snapdragons might have a better result. Missing Helio P60? MediaTek would be on high grounds with the inclusion of a tri-core Image Signal Processor on the Helio P60, compared to dual-core Spectra 160SP on the Snapdragons. What more cores in an ISP means is - better noise reduction, faster processing and more room for software/AI improvements in smartphone photography, HDR is obviously gonna get better and faster with an extra core and MediaTek promises 18% greater battery efficiency for dual-camera setups, which is pretty much every new smartphone nowadays. It does make a difference but not a totally staggering one. So, we are placing my bets in the given order -
Helio P60 > Snapdragon 636 = Snapdragon 630 > Kirin 659
Connectivity & Charging
We often overlook it but connectivity is one of the most important aspects of a phone and probably the most underrated one. So, for a change - we at SuggestPhone always talk of connectivity alongside other aspects of a smartphone. In here, Snapdragon 630 and 636 are identical as both of them claim 600Mbps of download speed and 150Mbps of upload speed - all thanks to Qualcomm’s X12 LTE modem, which is the best lineup in the industry. The Kirin 659 is dual-SIM capable (LTE category 6) with download speeds of up to 300Mbps, which is an increment over Kirin 658. Helio P60 supports dual-VoLTE with LTE category 7, with peak download speeds of 300Mbps and upload speeds of 150Mbps. It is not par Snapdragons but Is certainly better than Kirin 659’s modem prowess. So yeah, the rankings in connectivity stand as -
Snapdragon 636 = Snapdragon 630 > Helio P60 > Kirin 659
With metro lives, we all need our smartphones at peak, every time. Of course, we haven’t discovered how to make never-ending batteries but to our solace, we have fast charging which can charge your smartphone from zero to some significant percent in just a matter of few minutes. It's a pragmatic feature and is need of the hour.
Snapdragon 630 and Snapdragon 636 support Qualcomm’s QuickCharge 4.0, which means on-chip support for fast charging and aren’t we delighted. Huawei isn’t sitting back and has an amazing answer to QuickCharge named SuperCharge. MediaTek knows that’s Fast charging is the need for modern smartphones and hence we find onboard support for fast charging on Helio P60. All the fast charging techs are quite head to head with each other but in our experimentation, we found out that Huawei SuperCharge is a touch faster than QuickCharge. While QuickCharge 4.0 on Snapdragon 636 is a faster than MediaTek’s fast charging Tech. You can read more about Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0 here. The fast charge technology in these processor are ranked as -
Kirin 659 > Snapdragon 636 = Snapdragon 630 > Helio P60
Do note the phones like Honor 9 Lite and Honor 9i have Kirin 659 chipset but they don't have fast charging enabled. In fact, they are one of the phones with slowest charging speed. They take around 3 hours to charge a battery of 3000-3500 mAh. We have no idea what Huawei has done there.
Wrap Up: Which one is the best?
Qualcomm has made a mark with the Snapdragon lineup which is getting impressive by each new SoC it announces. With a proliferation of high-end tech in mid-rangers and then budget devices is admirable. HiSilicon’s Kirin is new but is surely taking giant strides to close on Qualcomm. MediaTek is rising from the ‘enriched’ ashes of ‘X’ series SoCs. The Helio P60 is probably the most innovative and complete SoC at the least budget and is head to head with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 660. There are still considerable differences between the two chip makers though. And we think HiSilicon’s efforts deserve appreciation but the day when it leaves a Snapdragon in dust is still not here. On the other hand, MediaTek is really giving Qualcomm sweat and probably the fiercest competition till date in the budget category.
MediaTek Helio P60 is an absolute stunner, Snapdragon 636 is an ultimate budget beauty and the Kryo cores amplify that. If we had to award a trophy, It would have been shared among Helio P60 and Snapdragon 636. As we find Qualcomm’s SoCs still the most stable and balanced mix of hardware and software. Snapdragon 630 is not far behind and Kirin 659 is equally powerful but what matters is the hair’s skin….the details… the things that really make a difference and all these things sum up that Helio P60 puts Snapdragons on the back foot and Snapdragons definitely are a cut above Kirin 659.
So despite being impressive on paper, Kirin 659 feels just not complete when compared with Qualcomm’s SoCs. Also, Software is the king, right? so when you compare actual devices like the Mi A1 (Snapdragon 625) with Honor 7X(Kirin 659) and Oppo F7 (Helio P60) - Google’s optimised Android One uses Snapdragon way lot better than Huawei’s EMUI does with Kirin or even worse with Oppo’s outdated iOS-like skin. That’s one thing Huawei can work on right away and Oppo should just throw off the design charts of the current skin and start focusing on making really great Android skins or why not go stock?. That’s one thing Huawei can work on right away. We mean, what’s the point of having an in-house SoC, if Huawei’s software isn’t optimised to leverage it? learn from Apple here, we would say.
Helio P60 doesn’t have a lot of smartphones carrying it in the market right now, but we would love to see a smartphone with stock Android running on Helio P60, that would be an amazing combination and would help us really gauge the true potential of the SoC.
So, how was it? Did we do a great job or an okay job or a bad one with this comparison? Do tell us in the comments, we are waiting to hear from you.
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