In short, the most important feature in any smartphone or smart device, in general, is the processor that is inside its body, since it is what makes them work the way they work and with the speed and efficiency with which they do it. Today we are going to make a comparison between two of the most popular processors that Huawei and Qualcomm have, and this is the strong and powerful war between Kirin 985 vs Snapdragon 855. In this article we will show some of the characteristics that these two processors provide, and we will tell you which the best choice is.
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.
Having said that, the SD 855 was announced on December 4, 2018, and it was launched in March, 2019 and Lenovo Z5 Pro GT was the first phone to feature it.
Starting the Kirin 985 vs Snapdragon 855 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 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.
On the other hand, the SD 855 uses a Kryo 485 CPU based on a semi-custom ARM Cortex technology. It’s a tri-cluster (1+3+4) design consisting of Cortex A76 core at 2.84GHz, three Cortex A76 cores at 2.42GHz, and four Cortex A55 cores at 1.8GHz. This can achieve up to 45% improvement in performance compared to the flagship platform of the previous generation.
Since both of them have the tri-cluster design and similar cores, the performance gap will be determined by looking at the frequencies. The upper core frequency of the Snapdragon 855 is much higher but the high-performance core is only one in both SoCs. However, the performance which matters the most is the mid-core performance since they are 3 in numbers. Here, the frequency of the mid-core is much higher in Kirin 985. Comparing the last, energy-efficient cores, Kirin 985 still has a slightly higher frequency when compared to Snapdragon 855.
In terms of high load performance Snapdragon 855 might be better, but there are rare scenarios when the clock speed of high-performance core reaches maximum. So, in low, mid, and high load, Kirin 985 will have a much better speed. Moreover, remember that higher frequency, higher heat dissipation. The single-core performance of SD 855 might be much better, however, the multi-core performance of Kirin 985 is way better than SD 855. Even the AnTuTu benchmarks justify it.
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. It runs at ~675 MHz clock speed.
Comparing the two, Aderno 640 is still powerful than the Mali-G77 MP8. However, if there were 10 cores like in Kirin 980, the performance could have been far superior to the Snapdragon 855 and even the Snapdragon 855 Plus. However, that’s not the case. The 8 cores with unknown frequency (we expect it to be around 660MHz) is slightly behind the Snapdragon 855’s Adreno 640. The benchmark further proves our point.
Also Read: MediaTek Dimensity 800 vs Helio G90T – 5G vs Gaming?
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 Xiaomi Mi 9 (6GB + 64GB). The Snapdragon 855 Plus scores 369,677 points on AnTuTu v8. The score included:
Drastic differences can be seen in the CPU, GPU, and UX section.
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.
With that said, the SD 855 presented by Qualcomm has Hexagon 698, the chip in charge of processing all AI code and machine learning with support for Tensor, Vector eXtensions, and Scalar, and other virtues such as executing AI code in energy-saving mode or support for multiple voice assistants. 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 with a score of only 24,421 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.
That being said, the Snapdragon 855 has an integrated X24 LTE modem for 4G only. 5G is only possible if the manufacturer decides to use the external X50 modem which gives a download rate of 5 Gbit/s and indeed consumes more power and occupies more space. Another minor aspect is that the SD 855 supports Bluetooth 5.1.
Kirin 985 phones include Honor 30 and Nova 7 5G which are both around $424 (standard variants). Moreover, these are the 5G supported phones. With that being said, it looks like we won’t see SD 855 in 2020, maybe one or two flagships with SD 855+. Thus, the price of SD 855 will start to fall. The phone incorporating the SD 855 might range from around 300 to 400 USD in 2020.
Concluding this Kirin 985 vs Snapdragon 855 SoC comparison, we must say that it depends on the user to select the processor that best suits its needs. That being said, and guided by this comparison, it can be seen that the Kirin 985 wins this battle, and that’s because of a better CPU, way better AI, integrated 5G modem, and better AnTuTu scoring. If you are concerned with the CPU performance, 5G connectivity, and AI features, you should go for Kirin 985. However, as a gaming alternative, you should go for Snapdragon 855 as it has a better GPU and might be available for an affordable price.
We hope you loved our comparison. Want to know anything? Let us know in the comments!
Note: This article has been updated on May 1, 2020 with the latest information regarding Kirin 985.