Snapdragon 870, 888 or 865+? We compare Qualcomm mobile chips

Qualcomm this week expanded the line of mobile 5G processors aimed at top-of-the-line mobile devices. In July 2020, the Snapdragon 865+ inaugurated some components and improved the performance of the current generation. In December, the Snapdragon 888 arrived, also for premium models. Finally, surprisingly, the brand confirmed yet another variant: the Snapdragon 870, from January 2021.

But do you know the difference between these models? They have a number of similarities and, for those who are not interested in the particularities of the processor, they perform above average in general. However, specific differences in operation and manufacture make some of them more suitable for certain uses.

Check out a more detailed analysis below.

Different from the cradle

The manufacturing architecture of the chips in question is not the same, which in itself indicates some differences. The Snapdragon 888 is the model with the most advanced 5 nanometer (nm) process, while the others use a 7nm FinFET format architecture.

The cores that make up the processing unit also differ, both in speed and in the model. The Snapdragon 870 and 865+ are practically identical in this regard, with a slight change to the Cortex-A77, which is 0.1 GHz more powerful on the first chip. The Snapdragon 888, on the other hand, exchanges this core for a Cortex-X1 – which, despite the lower clock speed, delivers superior performance overall, with emphasis on machine learning.

Detailed specifications for the three platforms (TecMundo / Will Fagundes)

The graphics processing unit is also only different in the most powerful model: the 888 has the Adreno 660 GPU, more advanced than the Adreno 650 of the others. Even the set of digital signal processors (DSP) changes in the same pattern, with the Hexagon 780 being a generation ahead of the Hexagon 698.

More changes

In terms of the set of cameras, we can see sensors of up to 200 MP in cell phones with both processors, which maintain technologies already widespread, such as hybrid autofocus and HDR video. The Snapdragon 888 delivers better numbers by supporting a sensor of up to 84 MP without delay by the shutter, making configuration flexible for up to three 24 MP lenses. Image capture in the 10-bit HEIF standard with high compression is also a plus

One of the few similarities between the three processors is in the video. They all support models with cameras that shoot at up to 8K at 30 frames per second, in addition to reproduction at the same resolution and 360º clips following the same coding standards.

Game performance is also the chip's role.Game performance is also the chip’s role.Source: Qualcomm

Although the processor does not define the battery life or the storage capacity of the device, the technology of charging speed depends directly on the chip used. In this regard, the Snapdragon 888 is superior in bringing the Quick Charge 5, a standard that promises 100% of the charge in just 15 minutes and support for chargers of 100 watts or more.

The mobile internet modem of the Snapdragon 888 model is also a generation ahead: the X60, against the X55 of the other chips. The download and upload speeds met, however, remain the same. In terms of other connectivity, the standards are similar across all models, but the Snapdragon 888 again takes the lead by adopting even Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2.

What does all this mean?

In general, the Snapdragon 888 is superior in almost all aspects and is in fact the top of the line of the current generation of Qualcomm, destined to the models of greater performance and power – like some variants of the Samsung Galaxy S21. This does not mean that the Snapdragon 870 is a bad addition to the chip family, even if it uses 2020 generation components and functions.

It can still be part of several devices this year from manufacturers that tend to vary beyond the top-of-the-line market – Motorola, Oppo, Xiaomi and OnePlus are some that will have the component. Finally, the Snapdragon 865+ must be increasingly rare, followed by others.

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