What defines a flagship smartphone more than anything is the silicon that powers it. Some prefer Qualcomm, some go with MediaTek, some stick to Apple and some crave for Huawei. 2020 didn’t pull any surprises as far as the chipsets that power smartphones go. Chipsets shrunk even further, added more transistors, became more power efficient and capable of doing more than things than ever. Smartphone chips have truly become complex powerhouse capable of handling just about every task you throw at them. And with 5G connectivity at the brink of breaking out among the masses, these flagship chipsets are all ready for the next-generation, as soon as it arrives in India. These are the nominees for the Best Flagship Mobile SoC of 2020 for the Indian Gadget Awards 2020.
Nominees for the Best Flagship Mobile SoC of 2020 for the Indian Gadget Awards 2020
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+
- Samsung Exynos 990
- Apple A14 Bionic
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+
The speed-binned Snapdragon 865+ only featured in a single smartphone, but succeeded in leaving an indelible mark on whoever managed to get their hands on it. The Snapdragon 865+ powers the mightly Asus ROG Phone 3 aimed squarely at gamers replete with personalised performance settings, pressure-sensitive air triggers and RGB lights. It’s the chipset inside the smartphone that rocks a CPU 10-per cent faster than the regular Snapdragon 865, along with increased system cache, that wreaked havoc in our benchmark charts. The chipset features the Adreno 650 GPU that’s capable of HDR gaming at 60FPS. The Spectra 480 ISP is capable of achieving gigabit-speeds in image processing, and making things like HDR videos, night mode videos and portrait videos possible. The Snapdragon 865+ also relies on Qualcomm’s 5th-gen AI Engine that leverages the DSP and GPU to deliver faster, developer-friendly AI performance, using which OEMs were able to experiment with things like live translate, AI filters, scene recognition algorithms and more. A low-power sensor hub manages all low-power tasks without taxing the CPU.
Samsung Exynos 990
The Exynos 990 is the twin brother of the Snapdragon 865. With both manufactured by Samsung and powers Samsung’s flagships in different regions, the Exynos 990 achieves performance that’s super close to Qualcomm’s best this year. The Exynos 990 also ushered in 5G connectivity for Samsung devices, and features a dual-core NPU for AI tasks that includes improving the camera output and leveraging the power of 108MP cameras. It features a tri-cluster CPU architecture with custom CPU cores based on the ARM Cortex-A76 and A55 cores, promising a 20 percent boost in performance. The SoC also supports the latest memory and storage modules, speeding the overall performance of a smartphone by a big extent. We saw the results in the Samsung Galaxy S20 and Note20 Series, and even in the fan favourite Galaxy S20 FE.
Apple A14 Bionic
The Apple A14 Bionic swept the market in the second half of 2020, and holds a generational advantage over the Snapdragon and Exynos chips used in Android smartphones this year. The A14 Bionic is the first SoC to be based on the 5nm manufacturing process. It’s still a six-core CPU but can run more instructions per clock, resulting in a big leap in performance. It also features a four-core GPU and a 16-core Neural Engine for gaming and machine-learning. Apple also does a fine job in designing the chipset to suit the needs of the device it powers, something that neither Qualcomm, MediaTek or Samsung can have considering it needs to power a diverse set of smartphones as compared to iPhones that are the fastest no matter what you choose.
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