Snapdragon 865 vs Apple A13 Bionic: Which one is Better?
Qualcomm launched its new generation flagship chip, the Snapdragon 865, to power 2020’s flagship devices. Since its launch, people are eager to see how it fares against Apple’s flagship processor, the A13 Bionic chip, powering the new iPhone 11 lineup. So here in this article, we will have an in-depth comparison of these flagship processors and see who gets ahead of the other.
Snapdragon 865 vs Apple A13 Bionic Comparison
In the CPU department, Apple has the lead over Qualcomm. Apple claimed the A13 Bionic chip is 50% more powerful than the previous Snapdragon 855 chip. And even with the launch of the Snapdragon 865, Qualcomm is only claiming a performance boost of 25%. So that means Apple is still ahead of the 865 by a fair margin in terms of single-core processing. However, the Snapdragon 865 does not lie far from Apple’s A13 chip regarding multi-core performance. When compared on Geekbench, the A13 Bionic scored 5472 in single-core and 13769 points in the multi-core tests, whereas the Snapdragon 865 scored 4303 in single-core and 13344 points in the multi-core test. So, not much is there in terms of multi-core performance; the only difference lies in the raw core performance, where Apple goes ahead of the Snapdragon 865 easily.
Again, even in terms of power consumption, A13 is claimed to be 40% more power efficient while maintaining a 20% performance boost over last year’s A12 chip. The Snapdragon 865 only claims a 25% power efficiency with a 25% performance boost over the 855. So, not much has changed between the Snapdragon processors of both these years regarding power consumption. Apple has introduced some groundbreaking changes that give it the edge over the Snapdragon 865 in terms of power consumption.
Apple stunned everyone with its GPU configuration on the A13 Bionic chip. It provided a 20% boost in performance while consuming 40% less power, which was unheard of before. Apple’s GPU performance was almost double what the Snapdragon 855 offered. Apple’s four-core GPU with a metal engine makes it the absolute best among all the others. However, the Snapdragon 865 is catching onto Apple with their latest Adreno 650 25% performance boost while consuming 35% less power. This is promising from Qualcomm, but the lead that Apple’s GPU had over the previous generation Adreno means that even the new Adreno 650 is not powerful enough to match the performance of A13’s GPU.
Among the new things from Qualcomm with the Adreno, they now support a 144 Hz refresh rate display and Elite Gaming Suite that supports desktop forward rendering. This means the GPU can produce desktop-quality gaming on a mobile phone. All that’s left is for the game developers to work on a game with graphics equivalent to desktop-level gaming.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 has the upper hand here over the Apple A13. With the SD865, Qualcomm has packed in the 5th generation AI engine, which, compared to the 3-year-old Neural Engine from Apple, looks like a better deal. Apple joined in on the AI and ML with their A11 chip, which is there with the A13, too, as the third-generation Neural Engine. However, when we compare the Neural Engine with the Hexagon 698 DSP, it looks like they are on an entirely different level altogether. The Hexagon 698 packs in the Tensor Accelerator on the 865, which works in sync with Google’s Tensor Flow library. This gives apps like Google Recorder and Google Lens many advantages to provide impressive new functions. With the years to come, these functions will only get better.
In terms of numbers, the AI module on the Snapdragon 865 can perform 15 trillion AI operations in one second. In comparison to this, Apple A13 Bionic’s Neural Engine is only capable of performing 1 trillion AI operations per second. So here, the A13 is behind by 15 times, which is a huge number. This tells us how far ahead Qualcomm is from Apple when it comes to performing day-to-day AI tasks.
The Spectra 480 ISP on the 865 supports 8K recording at 30 fps. It can also take images up to 200 megapixels, which is just unheard of in a mobile phone. It can also shoot 960 fps super slow-motion videos at 720p. Indeed, these are huge numbers, but the lack of CPU and GPU performance still brings the 865 down. This is because an ISP alone cannot produce the best camera performance; it needs a capable GPU and CPU, too. The Apple A13’s custom ISP can only shoot 4K videos at 60fps with HDR, but their videos are more stable due to the CPU and GPU on the A13. The iPhone 11 series devices can click sharp and detailed pictures, even in low light. It is one of the best camera devices out there in the market, and Qualcomm needs to work to provide support for more steady videos.
In the modem segment, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 is the clear winner as it has a next-generation X55 4G LTE/5G modem that enables both 4G LTE and 5G networks on smartphones. On the other hand, Apple’s A13 Bionic uses Intel’s XMM 7660 Modem that supports only 4G LTE connectivity. However, in 2020, Apple will bring a 5G modem with its A14 chipset for 5G connectivity. But, at present, Qualcomm’s latest flagship mobile platform is the winner.
Which one is better, between Snapdragon 865 and A13 Bionic?
Apple’s A13 is ahead of the 865 in terms of GPU and CPU. However, Qualcomm does a better job with AI tasks computation and ML. So, it is safe that Apple still has the best processor overall. Indeed, Qualcomm’s ISP has improved significantly, but Apple is almost neck and neck with Qualcomm on that front. When we see last year’s Snapdragon 855 with the A13 chip, the difference is enormous. Qualcomm’s 855 chip does not even come close to the A13 chip in raw power. However, Qualcomm is bringing some improvements to narrow the gap between the two mobile processor manufacturing giants. In the coming years, we might see the difference narrowing more, that is if Apple does not kill the 865 with their upcoming A14 Bionic chip.