The Snapdragon 888 uses an X60 modem for better 5G than the iPhone 12, but that’s not the only difference between these two premium mobile chips.
Qualcomm has now announced its newest Snapdragon 888 system-on-a-chip for smartphones, allowing some comparison with Apple’s A14 chip that powers the iPhone 12. Qualcomm is promising the absolute fastest 5G possible, supporting every available band worldwide. It also claims the biggest leap in AI performance ever, as well as 35-percent better GPU performance.
The previous flagship SoC from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 865, was packed with powerful camera features with 2-gigapixels of processing power per second. This allows advanced video features, such as 10-bit high dynamic-range video at 4K resolution, 8K resolution standard video and 960-frames per second slow motion. Photos of up to 200-megapixels are also possible. The Snapdragon 865+, a tweaked version, is a fantastically powerful chip, but the newest from Qualcomm will surpass even that.
While Qualcomm hasn’t released the complete information about the Snapdragon 888 mobile platform, enough was shared to allow some comparisons with Apple’s A14 SoC, found in the latest iPhone 12 and iPad Air 4. Qualcomm stated that the Snapdragon 888 has the fastest 5G, being the first in the world to offer all key combinations of Sub-6, TDD and FDD carrier aggregation. The A14 doesn’t integrate 5G. Instead, it is provided by Qualcomm’s X55 5G modem.
This gives the Snapdragon 888 an advantage when it comes to 5G performance in areas that don’t have access to the fastest mmWave flavor of 5G. The X60 modem in the Snapdragon 888 can aggregate various network signals to increase speed. Of course, the real-world effect of this will vary by region and carrier, but it’s still a win for Qualcomm. The Snapdragon 888 boasts 26 tera-operations per second (TOPS) in artificial intelligence processing. This is over double the A14’s 11 TOPS, potentially making advanced image and voice recognition faster on smartphones that use Qualcomm’s chip.
Processing Power, Camera & Gaming
Qualcomm described the Snapdragon 888 as its biggest leap forward in AI ever, and the 26 TOPS claim is very impressive. CPU speed was not discussed, but leaks of a supposed next-gen Snapdragon processor show a substantial improvement. It is already known that the A14 is the fastest mobile chip currently, crushing the Snapdragon 865 in single-core performance, but holding only a moderate edge in multi-core. The newest chip will likely equal or surpass Apple’s A14 in heavy processing, but likely will still lag in single-core performance. For normal use, newer model phones are plenty fast and they keep getting faster. While that doesn’t matter so much now, as AR and gaming on mobile devices continues to grow, the extra processing power will become more important.
Of course, gaming is a driving force in technology and that relies on power throughout the system, but particularly with the GPU. Qualcomm claims a 35-percent improvement in graphics processing with the Snapdragon 888. The previous generation Snapdragon 865 already beat the A14 in many benchmarks, so this will widen that gap. The image processor in the new Snapdragon 888 increases performance to 2.7-gigapixels. While not many details were given, this promises improvements in potential camera speed and resolution.
Ultimately, Qualcomm must paint a portrait of potential experiences and this is the difference between Apple products and most other smartphone manufacturers. Apple tends to sell the finished product, not the specifications where the user experience is made up of numbers. It’s the actual phone held in the hand, playing actual games, and recording real videos. While the Snapdragon 888 has great potential, how much of that will surface in the Android phones coming through next year is yet to be seen. In contrast, the iPhone 12 with its A14 chip is a known powerhouse smartphone.
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