A few weeks back, Kirin 985 debuted in the Honor 30. As the numbering suggests it’s the upgraded version of the Kirin 980 which was featured in Huawei’s and Honor’s flagship-level smartphones in 2019. However, at that time the Kirin 980 wasn’t able to beat neither the Snapdragon 855 nor the upgraded Snapdragon 855 Plus. Let’s see if the upgraded Kirin 985 beats the top version of SD 855 which is Snapdragon 855 Plus, in this Kirin 985 vs Snapdragon 855 Plus comparison:
3 x Cortex A76 (2.4 GHz)
4 x Cortex A55 (1.84GHz)
1x Cortex A76 @ 2.96GHz
3x Cortex-A76 @ 2.42GHz
4x Cortex-A55 @ 1.8GHz
Kirin 985 was released on April 15, 2020 with the Honor 30 series. The standard variant of the Honor 30 series incorporated this SoC. Moreover, because of the integrated modem introduction in 2020, Kirin 985 also features an integrated 5G modem which is one of the major differences between itself and its older brother.
Snapdragon 855 Plus was released on July 15, 2019, 9 months back in the Asus ROG Phone 2 which is a gaming phone. It was first to start the trend of 5G with a high speed external 5G modem.
Starting the Kirin 985 vs Snapdragon 855 Plus comparison with the process, the Kirin 985 features the TSMC’s 7nm LPP FinFET+ process. It’s not N7P based like the Snapdragon 865.
Snapdragon 855 Plus also uses the same TSMC’s 7nm LPP FinFET+ process based on the N7 node.
As we can see here that the process is the same in both SoCs, so now the cores and frequency will solely depend on the performance difference and power efficiency. So, let us consider the process section a tie.
In terms of CPU configuration, Kirin 985 5G has a tri-cluster design with the octa-core design (1+3+4). The high-performance core is Cortex A76 core running at a speed of 2.58 GHz. There are three Cortex A76 cores at a speed of 2.4GHz clock speed acting as mid-performance clusters. Last but not least, we have four power-efficient Cortex A55 cores at a speed of 1.84GHz for less demanding tasks. Compared to its ancestor, the high core performance has been decreased and the mid-core performance has been increasing drastically.
Similar to the Kirin 985 5G, Snapdragon 855 Plus has a tri-cluster design with the same numbers of cores in each section as well as the types. The only difference here is in frequency. Getting in details, it uses a Kryo 485 CPU based on a semi-custom ARM Cortex technology: 1 core x Cortex-A76 core at 2.84GHz, 3 cores x Cortex-A76 at 2.42GHz and 4 cores x Cortex-A55 at 1.8GHz.
As you can see that the mid-end and low-end cores have almost the same frequency. The difference is in the upper-performance core where Snapdragon 855 Plus has a max clock speed of 2.84 GHz, almost a difference of 0.26 GHz. So, in a high load scenario, Snapdragon 855 Plus might perform better because of the higher frequency but still the CPU performance difference isn’t that much.
Considering the graphical performance, Kirin 985 has an octa-core Mali-G77 GPU MP8. The frequency is not revealed at the moment. Though the cores aren’t that much when we compare it to Kirin 980 (Mali-G76 10 cores) and Kirin 990 (Mali-G76 16 cores), still, the updated generation of Mali-G series is much power efficient and yield more power per core. That is why it’s slightly better than Kirin 980’s GPU despite having 2 less cores.
On the other hand, the Qualcomm Adreno 640 GPU present in the Snapdragon 855 offers graphics processing speeds up to 20% faster compared to previous generations while maintaining industry-leading performance. The Snapdragon 855 Plus version has the same CPU but is overclocked to 672MHz.
Due to the decreased cores, even after upgrading to Mali-G77, Adreno 640 has better graphical performance as represented in the benchmarks. If only, the cores were around 10 or 12, then Kirin 985 might have beaten Adreno 640. The Kirin 980 was way behind compared to Snapdragon 855 Plus, and Kirin 985 improved but that improvement wasn’t enough to beat Snapdragon’s Adreno 640.
Let’s see the AnTuTu benchmark score of Kirin 985 on the Honor 30. With the Honor 30 (8GB + 128GB), Kirin 985 scored 413,621 points, including:
Comparing the result with other famous SoCs, Kirin 985 surpassed Kirin 980 with a lead of about 4%, and a lead of about 10% compared to the Kirin 820, and about 28% higher than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G.
Now, let’s see the AnTuTu benchmark of Snapdragon 855 Plus on the Asus ROG Phone 2 (12GB + 512GB). The Snapdragon 855 Plus scores 510,080 points on AnTuTu v8. The score included:
We know it’s not fair to compare a 12GB gaming phone to a standard smartphone. However, almost every smartphone featuring Snapdragon 855 Plus scored around 480,000 to 510,500 points with the ROG 2 ranking as the most powerful SD 855 Plus smartphone. In every category, the SD 855 + is better than Kirin 985.
Since Kirin adopted the DaVinci AI engine, it’s topping the charts in ai-benchmark.In 2019, it was Kirin 810. In 2020, it is Kirin 990 5G. However, Kirin 985 didn’t perform badly at all. There’s the dual-core NPU (2 big cores) of the famous DaVinci architecture categorizing it in the top 4 of AI-benchmark. ISP 5.0 is the same as the Kirin 990’s ISP. It’s ranked at the third-best AI SoC after the Kirin 990 and Kirin 990 5G phones. It scores around an impressive 73,866 points and 73,679 points on Nova 7 5G and Honor 30.
Meanwhile, Qualcomm isn’t that good when it comes to AI performance. Even its this year’s flagship SoC Snapdragon 865 did reach in the top 10 AI phones, beaten by Exynos 990, Kirin 990, 990 5G, Kirin 820, and MediaTek Dimensity 1000’s APUs. Meanwhile, the Snapdragon 855 was way low in the list with the Asus ROG Phone II. It scored around 33,185 points getting beaten by the above said SoCs and even the mid-end Kirin 810.
Kirin 985 highlights its integrated single-chip 5G baseband solution without a plug-in. It supports 2G / 3G / 4G / 5G network standard and NSA / SA 5G dual-mode. The theoretical maximum download rate is 1277 Mbps and the upload rate is 173 Mbps. Compared to the combination of Snapdragon 865 + Snapdragon X55 it is about 40% and 75% faster, respectively.
It is specially optimized for high-speed scenarios. For example, at a speed of 90 km/hour, the download rate and upload rate can still reach 589 Mbps and 63 Mbps, respectively, which is 31% and 37% faster than the combination of Snapdragon 865 and Snapdragon X55. Since the capacity isn’t that much, the energy efficiency of Kirin 985 5G appears to be high. According to the officials, the power consumption under 5G heavy load and light load scenarios are only 504 mA and 291 mA, respectively, and the energy efficiency ratio is about 1.5 times that of Snapdragon 865 + Snapdragon X55.
Meanwhile, Snapdragon 855 Plus has an external 5G modem (X50 modem) and doesn’t come with the built-in modem. Though the speed of the external 5G modem is high which is around 5 Gbps maximum. Compared to the integrated 5G modem, the external ones take a lot of space and consume much more power.
Both SoCs support UFS 2.1 and LPDDR4x RAM. Both SoCs support WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac.
Due to much better coverage of the 5G networking, less signal loss, and an average speed, Kirin 985’s integrated single-chip 5G baseband solution wins this round.
Kirin 985 phones include Honor 30 and Nova 7 5G which are both around $424 (standard variants). Moreover, these are the 5G supported phones. However, for the Snapdragon 855 Plus, there’s a wide variety of manufacturers, 5G and 4G phones, as well as a vast price range. The Realme X2 Pro appears to be the cheapest one with the price of $397 and the most expensive Snapdragon 855 + to be Samsung Note 10 5G priced at $1,169.
Since Kirin 985 will be limited to Honor and Huawei phones, and the Kirin 990 used in flagship-level phones, the price of all phones featuring Kirin 985 will be somewhere around $380 to $500. For now the Snapdragon 855 Plus phones, especially the 5G ones aren’t going to be cheaper at all.
Ending this Kirin 985 vs Snapdragon 855 Plus comparison, if you want a good performance phone regardless of the release date, go for a Snapdragon 855 Plus phone. It’s slightly better in terms of CPU, but way better in terms of GPU, MEM, and UX performance. However, if you are concerned with the price, the release date, connectivity, and AI (for better UI management and AI camera), go for Kirin 985.
We hoped you loved our Kirin 985 versus Snapdragon 855 + comparison. Let us know which one do you like the most.