Final Thoughts

Today’s preview focused solely on the performance metrics of the new chipset, which only cover a very small subset of the new features that the chip will be bringing to devices next year. A lot of the talking-points of the new SoC such as 5G connectivity, or the new camera and media capabilities, are aspects for which we’ll have to wait on commercial devices.

For what we’ve been able to test today, the Snapdragon 865 seems very solid. The new Cortex-A77 CPU does bring larger IPC improvements to the table, and thanks to the Snapdragon 865’s improved memory subsystem, the chip has been able to showcase healthy performance increases. I did find it odd that the web benchmarks didn’t quite perform as well as I had expected – I don’t know if the new microarchitecture just doesn’t improve these workloads as much, or if it might have been a software issue on the QRD865 phone; we’ll have to wait for commercial devices to have a clearer picture of the situation. System performance of the new chip certainly shouldn’t be disappointing, and even on a conservative baseline configuration, 2020 flagships should see an increase in responsiveness compared to the Snapdragon 855.

AI performance of the new chip is also improved – although our limited benchmark suite here isn’t able to fully expose the hardware improvements that the S865 brings with it. It’s likely that first-party camera applications will be the first real workloads that will be able to showcase the new capabilities of the chip.

On the GPU side, the improvements are also quite solid, but I just have a feeling that the narrative here isn’t quite the same anymore for Qualcomm, as Apple’s the elephant in the room now here as well. During the launch of the chipset the company was quite eager to promote that its sustained performance is better than the competition. While we weren’t able to test this aspect of the Snapdragon 865 on the QRD865 due to time constraints, the simple fact is that the chip’s peak performance remains inferior to Apple’s sustained performance, with the fruit company essentially dominating an area where previously Qualcomm was king. In this regard, I hope Qualcomm is able to catch up in the future, as the differences here are seemingly getting bigger each year.

Overall, the Snapdragon 865 seems like a very well-balanced chip and I have no doubt it’ll serve as a very competitive foundation for 2020 flagships. Qualcomm’s strengths lie in the fact that they’re able to deliver a complete solution with 5G connectivity – we do however hope that in the future the company will be able to offer more solid performance upgrades; the competition out there is getting tough.

GPU Performance & Power


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  • michael2k - Wednesday, December 18, 2019 - link

    I know you want to think that, but the 855 right now barely competes with the A13. The gap may be getting smaller, but when Apple has a multiple year lead in performance, it will take multiple years of iteration to catch up, and that assumes Apple isn't growing either.

    From the article, the 865 wasn't very competitive with the older A12:
    On the integer side, the A77 still trails Apple’s Monsoon cores in the A11, but the new Arm design now has been able to trounce it in the FP suite. We’re still a bit far away from the microarchitectures catching up to Apple’s latest designs, but if Arm keeps up this 25-30% yearly improvement rate, we should be getting there in a few more iterations.
    The QRD865 really didn’t manage to differentiate itself from the rest of the Android pack even though it was supposed to be roughly 20-25% ahead in theory. I’m not sure what the limitation here is, but the 5-10% increases are well below what we had hoped for. For now, it seems like the performance gap to Apple’s chips remains significant.
    There’s one apparent issue here when looking at the chart rankings; although there’s an improvement in the peak performance, the end result is that the QRD865 still isn’t able to reach the sustained performance of Apple’s latest A13 phones.
    Looking at the estimated power draw of the phone, it indeed does look like Qualcomm has been able to sustain the same power levels as the S855, but the improvements in performance and efficiency here aren’t enough to catch up to either the A12 or A13, with Apple being both ahead in terms of performance, power and efficiency.

    The 855 was released early this year and was not very competitive with the slightly older A11:
  • Deboo - Monday, January 27, 2020 - link

    Isn't apple cpu cores are arm based Reply
  • michael2k - Tuesday, December 17, 2019 - link

    The formal term for it is induction.
    Apple's GPU is very competitive in phones, sometimes taking the top spot, sometimes not:

    But for their tablets, Apple proceeds to beef up the GPU over 2x the iPhone, in this case by having 75% more CPU cores, much better thermal capacity, and higher clockspeed:

    It is beaten by the GTX 1060, but beats the Ryzen 7, in PC space, and soundly beats the iPhone by 80% when not CPU bound.

    So the inductive part is that, given the 865 approaches the performance of an iPhone, it won't approach the performance of an iPad.
  • id4andrei - Tuesday, December 17, 2019 - link

    One thing to remember when you compare GPUs. Benchmarks usually run half precision operations on mobile compared to what they run on desktop - FP16 vs FP32. Also on ios they run Metal while on Windows DX12 or Vulkan or OpenGL. Not the same thing. Reply
  • IUU - Thursday, December 26, 2019 - link

    Apple cores beating the ryzen 7 is a very big word and requires a big leap of faith Reply
  • ph00ny - Monday, December 16, 2019 - link

    Probably. Android tablet is pretty dead and there is no real solid demand for a "faster" hardware Reply
  • generalako - Monday, December 16, 2019 - link

    That's a stupid exaggeration. If it were dead how come Huawei just released the Mediapad M6 this summer with Kirin 980, and is currently releasing an even more premium tablet right now? How come Samsung makes a new Tab S every year, along with iterations of cheaper models every now and then? Same with Xiaomi, Lenovo and others. Low-end market is sprawling with new tablets from all sorts of brands. Even LG released a tablet this year. The tablet market may not be huge, and certainly lackluster in a lot of ways on Android (mainly due to Google neglecting it since Nexus 9 was a flop; you don’t follow-up Nexus 7 v2—the best tablet ever made—with that nonsense), but it very much exists and is desired by a lot of customers. This reality is true for Apple too, that waited 4-5 years before it released a new iPad Mini iteration.

    As an avid tablet user myself, even with a lot to be desired on Android, I still very much like many offerings by them the past 2 years. I'm currently using both an iPad Mini 5 and Mediapad M6 8.4”. Seeing as I, like most other people, use tablett for media consumption (YouTube, streaming movies/shows, reading books, Reddit, browsing, Spotify), the available supported apps are equally good for both platforms. If I were to dive deeper to dedicated application, sure, iPad has much better support, I really never do as I use a tablet for the specific uses it was made for. I can see this be a complaint if you're an iPad Pro user and use it for professional work, but I don't really see that being a desire for even those using regular iPad or iPad Mini. Maybe if you’re a gamer, but that’s really it.

    I use the Huawei more than the iPad Mini due to how much more intuitive Android is. At the end of the day, they both run oversized variants of their smartphone OS, and Android is simply more intuitive in a lot of respects, with iOS use still feeling like having one hand behind my back. Where Apple is fantastic though, is in its hardware implementation, like its excellent screen calibration and touch latency, or having a 3.5mm input (unlike M6 or newer Tab S, sadly) with really good DAC that properly drives my HD650. Mediapad wins in more effective and ease-of-use OS, 16:10 aspect ratio. Android also makes it easier to do things like torrenting (which is great for downloading/streaming movies, football matches, etc.), local file management and sharing and more. Ironically, Apple has made up for the Mediapad’s lack of jack with its fantastic 3.5mm Type-C for $7, which beats DACs upwards of 10x its price (no joke – Apple really knocked it out of the park).
  • imaheadcase - Tuesday, December 17, 2019 - link

    Let alone the thousands of Samsung tablets with android that sell like hot cakes. Given the sell over holidays on them, they are even more attractive.

    Sure Samsung is terrible at updating software, but not a deal breaker by any means, i tried parents Ipad and it just felt wrong using it, i can't quite put finger on reason, just seems so limited with apps and just not responsive.

    Things just work great on Android variant for me.
  • Oliseo - Thursday, December 19, 2019 - link

    One look at Android App Stores tells you just how successful Android Tablets are. That's something everyone can do, and not just take some random fanboys drivel on a forum.

    /end debate
  • Lois - Friday, December 27, 2019 - link

    This is just your feeling and not a fact… Some people feel better on iPadOS and some others on Android. Now the fact is that iPad is more powerfull than andoid Tablets… Reply

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