The beginning of 2019 embarks the journey of new flagship processors. Since the start of 2018, most of the Android Flagships came with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC and boy the chipset was a killer once it was launched. With a perfect blend of Power and Stability, the Snapdragon 845 has been the best processor launched by Snapdragon until the introduction of the New Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC.
In late 2018, Huawei’s HiSilicon also introduced us with another flagship processor, the Kirin 980 which Huawei claims to be better than the Bionic A12 by Apple. In this article, we take a look at the detailed comparison of Snapdragon 845 vs Snapdragon 855 vs Kirin 980. First, we will go through a brief summary of each chipset/processor and then we will go through the CPU, GPU, NPU, Memory, Modem and ISP comparison of these 3 chipsets.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Developed by Qualcomm during early 2018, the Snapdragon 845 has been the bench leader in terms of SoC for Android Smartphones. It delivers Raw performance along with huge boost in the quality of Battery consumption, being engineered for all-day battery life, it supports fast charging of 50% in only 15 minutes. The processor also enables its users to download at the peak speed of up to 1.2Gbps.
The Adreno 630 on The Snapdragon 845 allows gamers to experience Industries’ top end Mobile Games and Apps in HDR quality. The GPU includes Hexagon 685 DSP which is a class leader from the previous 682 version and improves AI quality along with power and performance. It also comes with additional features such as Immersive XR Experiences, An Intelligent AI and Advanced Security.”
Qualcomm claimed that Snapdragon 845 has an entirely new Secure Processing Unit (SPU) unlike its predecessor the Snapdragon 835 and believes the new and improved processor delivers an overall 20% improvement in its efficiency over its predecessors. The SoC has been made available in many Flagship Smartphones of 2018 which includes, The Samsung Galaxy S9 & S9 Plus, LG G7 ThinQ, Asus Zenfone 5Z, Razer 2, POCO F1, and many more Flagships.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
The latest and most premium SoC from Qualcomm, The Snapdragon 855 has tech enthusiast hyped ever since its announcement. The Chip is unlike anything and offers some of the most advanced imaginative AI technologies in the industry.
While the Snapdragon 845 is no doubt a very powerful processor, the 855 is a pioneer of its own. The new Cortex A76-based cores is the primary highlight of the new 855. Combined with more power efficient 7nm process, Qualcomm claims over 45% improvement in performance over the Snapdragon 845.
The all-new Adreno 640 is surely going to be the trendsetter in terms of its specs. Being about 20% faster than the Adreno 630, the 640 delivers true HDR quality with lesser battery consumption. With an integrated microcontroller for power management and having the lowest driver overhead for less CPU power. The Adreno 640 GPU is the Industry leader in terms of Performance/watt.
While supporting all-new 5G connectivity. The Snapdragon 855 has an on-device 4th Generation AI Technology, which makes the camera, gaming, and power management faster and better in everyday uses. Smartphones like the LG G8 ThinQ, Moto Z4, Google Pixel 4 and OnePlus 7 are said to arrive with the new flagship processor.
Huawei HiSilicon Kirin 980
Huawei’s top-end processor which also happens to be the World’s 1st 7nm Mobile AI Chipset, The Kirin 980. As being the first ever SoC CPU with Cortex-A76 architecture, the world’s first dual NPU and the World’s first chipset to support LTE Cat 21 The Kirin 980 deliver around 20% speed improvement along with a 40% reduction in power consumptions as compared to the previous generations SoC by Huawei.
In terms of Gaming, this is the first chip to support a Mali-G76 GPU that delivers a 46% improvement and 178% power efficiency when compared with the earlier Mali-672 on the Kirin 970 which makes it a definite choice for gamers.
Another huge upgrade in this chip is in terms of the camera AI which uses all new Dual Image Signal Processor, that makes image processing at a whopping 46% faster in comparison to its predecessor. As getting the tag of being the 1st in the World, Huawei is looking to get their flagship chip on their premium segment phones which include the Honor Magic 2, Huawei Mate 20 and the Huawei Mate 20 Pro.
Snapdragon 845 vs Snapdragon 855 vs Kirin 980 Comparison
Before going into the details, let's take a look at the specifications comparison table of Snapdragon 845, 855 and Kirin 980.
|Specifications||Snapdragon 845||Snapdragon 855||Kirin 980|
|CPU||Kryo 385 Octa-core CPU Up to 2.8 GHz||Kryo 485 Octa-core CPU Up to 2.84 GHz||Cortex A76+A55 Octa-core CPU Up to 2.6 GHz|
|No. of Cores||4xA75 + 4xA55 Cores||1xA76 + 3xA76 + 4xA55||2xA76 + 2xA76 + 4xA55|
|GPU||Adreno 630||Adreno 640||Mali-G76MP10|
|Process||10nm LPP (Samsung)||7nm LPP (TSMC)||7nm LPP (TSMC)|
|NPU-AI||Hexagon 685 with HVX||Hexagon 690||Dual-Core HiAI NPU|
|Bluetooth||Bluetooth 5.0||Bluetooth 5.0||Bluetooth 5.0|
1200 Mbps Down
150 Mbps Up
316 Mbps Up +
Qualcomm X50 5G Modem
1400 Mbps Down
200 Mbps Up
Type: Dual channel, LPDDR4x
Type: 4x16 bit, LPDDR4x
Type: 4x16 bit, LPDDR4x
CPU and GPU Performance Comparison
Lets begin with the Snapdragon 845 coming in with an octa-core CPU consisting of 4 Kryo 385 clocked at 2.8 GHz and four Cortex A55 clocked in 1.8 GHz Compared with the Snapdragon 855 which has 1 Kryo 485 Gold custom Cortex-A76 at 2.84Ghz, along with 3 Kryo 485 Gold at 2.42 GHz and 4 Kryo 485 Silver custom Cortex A55 at 1.80 GHz .Coming to the Kirin 980, this octa-core CPU has got 2 Cortex A76 running at 2.6GHz and two A76 running at 1.92 GHz and four power saver process of Cortex A55 which go on running at 1.8 GHz.
If we count on top end raw performance, the winner has to be non-other than the Snapdragon 855 which has a unique Tri-cluster CPU arrangement running with both Gold and Silver cores, something all new in the industry , while for a more battery efficient power to performance ratio, the best ever processor by Huawei, the Kirin 980 beats the Snapdragon 845 by a small margin, running 2 sets of high performance and a four-power saving cores. So, in terms of the CPU performance
CPU Comparison: Snapdragon 855 > Kirin 980 > Snapdragon 845
Switching over to the Graphics Processing Unit or the GPU , much needless to say the Snapdragon 855 dominates the segment by bringing in the all-new Adreno 640 which is the most powerful GPU at the moment, being 20% faster and equipped with the State of the art integrated microcontroller, it sets a unbeatable 3D Mark Score and reigns on top of the ladder. Now the in the battle between the Snapdragon 845 and the Kirin 980, the Adreno 630 GPU within the Snapdragon 845 still outperforms the Mali-676 GPU, although Huawei has made the GPU far better than its predecessors by delivering extra 20% of speed within it. It is still no match for the Adreno 630. To put into an easier perspective
GPU Comparison: Snapdragon 855 > Snapdragon 845 > Kirin 980
By the results of AI BenchMark, a Benchmark software that tests various artificial neural network (ANN) implementations by using dot products and matrix multiplication and non-linearity functions, again it is Snapdragon 855 which is the king of the ring, as Snapdragon had claimed in the Snapdragon Summit , their new mobile platform offers a 2-fold improvement in AI versus the “competition,” which can be assumed to be the Kirin 980.
Despite not having a dedicated block for AI processing (what Huawei calls an “NPU”), Qualcomm’s improvements in compute across the board allow the Snapdragon 855 to beat the Kirin 980 in the AI Benchmark Segment. Well that doesn’t mean that the Dual NPU offered by Huawei is weak, it provides a very decent score in terms of AI Benchmark and easily beats the Snapdragon 845’s old AI engine, to put it simply for users
NPU Performance: Snapdragon 855 > Kirin 980 > Snapdragon 845
The evolvement of RAM throughout the ages has been uplifting, nowadays the size of RAM matters less in comparison to the speed of RAM. So, it is crucial for any SoC to deliver the best RAM handling capacity designed for it. Starting with the Snapdragon 845 which supports 4x 16-bit, 1866 MHz LPDDR4X RAM and is the lowest amongst the three.
Upgrading from the 845, we have the Kirin 980 that supports LPDDR4X @ 2133MHz RAM which results in higher performance and is quite similar to the Snapdragon 855 as it also the same 4x16bit, 2133 MHz LPDDR4X RAM. Meaning both of the SoC offer faster load times and better graphics performance during usage. Again, in terms of scoring,
RAM Comparison: Kirin 980 = Snapdragon 855 > Snapdragon 845
ISP Video and Photography Comparison
Mobiles cameras are a genre of their own, and what makes this possible, it’s all because of the image sensors on the Chips which is known as Image Signal Processors (ISP). To put simply a camera with a better ISP has the better picture quality or you can say has the upper hand. To begin this battle, we bring up the Snapdragon 845 which has the Qualcomm Spectra 280 ISP that delivers a premium camera and XR experience, topping that with high-performance capture of up to 16 MP at 60 Images per second.
As for the Video encoding goes, it can help the camera lens to shoot 4K HDR at 60fps. Now beating its predecessor, the ISP in the Snapdragon 855 processor brings a lot of improvements and also adds a lot of new features. To begin with, it uses the Spectra 380 Image Sensor that can support up to 32MP in a single camera. However, it does fall behind to the Kirin 980, which can support a single sensor of up to 40MP. Now in terms of Video recording, both of the sensors actually go toe-to-toe. Snapdragon claims that the 855 can do 4K HDR video capture with live portrait mode. However, the same feature also exists on the Kirin 980, so the winner here is definitely Huawei.
Camera Comparison: Kirin 980 > Snapdragon 855 > Snapdragon 845
Last not the least, what is the use of all the features onto a Smartphone if it can’t even connect to the network. Well, 5G modems are absent from all three of these chips, which is normal for the 845 as it is a year-old chip but this quite odd for the Snapdragon 855 and Kirin 980 as it is already 2019. However, it isn’t that much of a concern as the flagship chips support 5G via external modems.
Judging by the network modems the Snapdragon 845 comes in with X20 LTE and supports up to 1200 Mbps down and 150 Mbps up, which is pretty good if you are in 2018, but still lacks behind the Kirin 980 which has got Cat 21 LTE modem and supports speed up to 1400 Mbps down and 200 Mbps up. The two processors offer good connectivity but as Qualcomm is leading the industry with 2Gbps LTE chips, the Snapdragon 855 stays untouchable with an X24 LTE modem that supports up to 2000Mbps down and 316 Mbps up speed.
Connectivity: Snapdragon 855 > Kirin 980 > Snapdragon 845
Snapdragon 845 vs Snapdragon 855 vs Kirin 980 Comparison Summary
After a heated battle between the competitors, it is safe to say that all of the three processors bring great value to the table. In terms of Technological Advancement, it’s the Snapdragon 855 which is the clear winner, however, one must note the price point at which the smartphones having this processor will be sold.
Now if we are looking at speed in terms of the overall price tag, Huawei does seem to offer more as both the Snapdragon 855 and the Kirin 980 uses ARM Cortex-A76 and ARM Cortex A55 CPU cores. Switching to the Snapdragon 845, it does offer a great value for money and is the one which has been running the market ever since its launch doesn’t back down with its performance. But at the end of the day, it’s all up to the users who prefer what smartphone they desire for themselves.
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