Qualcomm just launched their new generation flagship chip, the Snapdragon 865 to power 2020’s flagship devices. Ever since it was launched, people are eager to see how it fare against Apple’s flagship processor, the A13 Bionic chip which is powering the new iPhone 11 lineup. So here in this article, we are going to have an in-depth comparison of both these flagship processors, and see who really gets ahead of the other.
Snapdragon 865 vs Apple A13 Bionic Comparison
In the CPU department, Apple definitely has the lead over Qualcomm. This is because Apple claimed that the A13 Bionic chip is 50% more powerful than the previous generation Snapdragon 855 chip. And even with the launch of the Snapdragon 865, Qualcomm is only claiming a performance boost of 25%. So that means Apple is still ahead of the 865 by a fair margin in terms of single-core processing. However, Snapdragon 865 does not lie far from Apple’s A13 chip in terms of multi-core performance. When compared on Geekbench, the A13 Bionic scored 5472 in single-core and 13769 points in the multi-core tests, whereas the Snapdragon 865 scores 4303 in single-core and 13344 points in the multi-core test. So not much is there in terms of multi-core performance, the only difference lies in the raw core performance where Apple goes ahead of the Snapdragon 865 easily.
Again, even in terms of power consumption, A13 is claimed to be 40% more power efficient while maintaining a 20% performance boost over last year’s A12 chip. Whereas, the Snapdragon 865 only claims a 25% power efficiency with a 25% performance boost over the 855. So not much has changed between the Snapdragon processors of both these years in terms of power consumption. Whereas Apple here has introduced some groundbreaking changes which give it the edge over the Snapdragon 865 in terms of power consumption.
Apple absolutely stunned everyone with their GPU configuration on the A13 Bionic chip. It provided a 20% boost in performance while consuming 40% less power, which is unheard of before. Apple’s GPU performance was almost double of what the Snapdragon 855 had to offer. Apple’s own four-core GPU with a metal engine makes it an absolute best among all the others. However, Snapdragon 865 is catching onto apple with their latest Adreno 650 25% performance boost while consuming 35% less power. This is really promising from Qualcomm, but the lead that Apple’s GPU had over the previous generation Adreno, means that even the new Adreno 650 is not powerful enough to match the performance of A13’s GPU.
Among the new things from Qualcomm with the Adreno, we have now support for 144 Hz refresh rate display along with Elite Gaming Suite that supports desktop forward rendering. This means the GPU is capable of producing desktop quality gaming on a mobile phone. All that’s left is for the game developers to work on a game with graphics equivalent to desktop-level gaming.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 definitely has the upper hand here over the Apple A13. With the SD865, Qualcomm has packed in the 5th generation AI engine which when compared to 3-year-old Neural Engine from Apple, looks like a better deal. Apple joined in on the AI and ML with their A11 chip and it is there with the A13 too as the third generation Neural Engine. However, when we compare the Neural Engine with the Hexagon 698 DSP, it looks like both of them are on a completely different level altogether. The Hexagon 698 packs in the Tensor Accelerator on the 865, which works in sync with Google’s Tensor Flow library. This gives apps like Google Recorder, Google Lens a lot of advantages to provide some impressive new functions. With the years to come, these functions will only get better.
In terms of number, the AI module on the Snapdragon 865 can perform 15 trillion AI operations in one second. In comparison to this, Apple A13 Bionic’s Neural Engine is only capable of performing 1 trillion AI operations per second. So here the A13 is behind by 15 times, which is a really big number. This tells us how far ahead is Qualcomm from Apple when it comes to performing day to day AI tasks.
The Spectra 480 ISP on the 865, has support for 8K recording at 30 fps. It can also take images upto 200 megapixels, which is just unheard of in a mobile phone. It can also shoot 960 fps super slow-motion videos at 720p. Surely these are huge numbers but the lack of CPU and GPU performance still bring the 865 down. This is because an ISP alone cannot produce the best of camera performance, it needs a capable GPU and CPU too. The Apple A13’s custom ISP can only shoot 4K videos at 60fps with HDR, but their videos are more stable due to the CPU and GPU on the A13. The iPhone 11 series devices can click really sharp and detailed pictures, even in the low light. It is one of the best camera devices out there in the market, and Qualcomm needs to work to provide support for more steady videos.
In modem segment, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 is the clear winner as it has next-generation X55 4G LTE/5G modem that enables both 4G LTE and 5G network on smartphones. On the other hand, Apples’s A13 Bionic uses Intel’s XMM 7660 Modem that supports only 4G LTE connectivity. However, in 2020, Apple will bring 5G modem with its A14 chipset for 5G connectivity. But, at present Qualcomm’s latest flagship mobile platform is the winner.
Specifications That Matter
|SoC||Snapdragon 865||A13 Bionic|
|Process||TSMC's 7nm+||TSMC's 7nm+|
|Core Combination & Clock Speed||1x Kryo 585 (Cortex A77) @ 2.84GHz|
3x Kryo 585 (Cortex A77) @ 2.4GHz
4x Kryo 385 (Cortex A55) @ 1.8GHz
|2x 2.65GHz (Lightning )|
4x 1.8GHz (Thunder)
|GPU||Adreno 650 GPU||Apple-designed 4-core GPU|
|AI||Hexagon 698 DSP||8-core Neural Engine|
|Charging||Quick Charge 4+||Fast Charging|
|ISP||Spectra 480||Apple-designed Image Processor|
|Modem||Qualcomm X55 5G Modem|
Upto 7.5 Gbps Download Speed over 5G
|Intel's XMM 7660 LTE Modem|
Upto 1.6 Gbps Download Speed over 4G
Which one is better between Snapdragon 865 and A13 Bionic?
Apple’s A13 is definitely ahead of the 865 in terms of GPU and CPU. However, Qualcomm does a better job when it comes to AI tasks computation and ML. So it is safe that Apple still has the best processor overall. Surely Qualcomm’s ISP has also improved significantly, but Apple is almost neck and neck with Qualcomm on that front. When we see last year Snapdragon 855 with the A13 chip, the difference is huge. Qualcomm’s 855 chip does not even come close to the A13 chip in terms of raw power. However, now it seems like Qualcomm is definitely bringing some improvements to narrow the gap between the two mobile processor manufacturing giants. In the coming years we might see the difference narrowing more, that is, if Apple does not kill the 865 with their upcoming A14 Bionic chip.