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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  • Bulat Ziganshin - Monday, December 16, 2019 - link

    Unfortunately the first page lack latency picture for Core i9 Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Monday, December 16, 2019 - link

    Whoops! Reload and try it now. Reply
  • shabby - Monday, December 16, 2019 - link

    Performance looks good but I'm really wary of the external 4g/5g chip and its additional antennas and how they'll affect battery life. Not going to buy any new sd865 phone until reviews pop up. Reply
  • eastcoast_pete - Monday, December 16, 2019 - link

    That's the elephant in the room! Haven't seen any good real-world data on just how much power 5G use will actually add. Faster data are nice (in principle), but if 5G cuts battery life by 30-40% vs. current 4G LTE , pretty much useless. If anyone here has any links to such tests, please post - Thanks! Reply
  • Kangal - Friday, December 20, 2019 - link

    Well, I think generally they're going to stick the 5G SoC next to the QSD 865 SoC.
    That means heat from one will affect the other, and so OEMs will potentially require a larger phone (and larger screen = more drain), but with a smaller area for the battery.

    Not to mention, there is going to be significant battery life hit when using an external radio chipset instead of an integrated one. Remember the huge power savings we saw going from the QSD 600 to the QSD 800 back in 2013. So it will be kind of reversed.

    I think overall, what will happen is that all the improvements in the battery technology and the Cortex A77 are going to be nullified. So phones from 2019 which had the best battery life and performance, are going to see a "side-grade" compared to 2020 flagships. So I believe in essence, the QSD 865 will be much less competitive against the Apple A13 and Exynos 990... compared to the QSD 855 against the Apple A12 and Kirin 980.

    ...I do believe more in-depth benchmarks and reviews will come within 3 months (and validate my hypothesis).
  • MrCommunistGen - Monday, December 16, 2019 - link

    Based on the initial performance estimates from the Cortex A77 announcement article Andrei published back in May, I was actually really excited to see the next generation Snapdragon 865. The lack of performance uplift in the real-world web metrics with the QRD865 is a bit underwhelming, but my main concern is the requirement of an external modem.

    I don't have any experience with the current crop of 5G external-modem devices, but back in the day I used several Qualcomm APQ external-modem devices. Back then battery life being terrible was basically a given since batteries were small and Android was pretty bad at power management, but in hindsight I'm sure at least some of it was due to the external modems...
  • tuxRoller - Wednesday, December 18, 2019 - link

    The disappointing web improvements were also seen last year (

    "The web-based benchmarks such as Speedometer 2.0 and WebXPRT 3 showcase similar relatively muted results. Here I had expected Qualcomm to perform really well given the scheduler performance showcase of the Snapdragon 845. The results of the Snapdragon 855 are quite meagre, especially in a steady-state throughput workload such as Speedometer 2.0. Here the Snapdragon 855 only manages to showcase a ~17% improvement over the last generation, and also lags behind the Kirin 980 by some notable amount."

    However, compare those 855qrd to the numbers seen in this article with actual shipping devices. Pretty big difference.
  • generalako - Monday, December 16, 2019 - link

    >Not going to buy any new sd865 phone until reviews pop up.

    Shouldn't really ever do that anyhow...
  • Kishoreshack - Monday, December 16, 2019 - link

    Don't know why the Performance looks disappointing in web browsing test Reply
  • Kishoreshack - Monday, December 16, 2019 - link

    What is the reason is it performs worse than last years 855 chip
    are we gonna see same kind of implementation in real world devices?

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