Snapdragon 865 Vs A13 Bionic Which Is Better? Qualcomm launched its top-of-the-line Snapdragon 865 SoC in Hawaii. The processor comes with 5G support and will power several 5G flagships next year. However, many smartphone enthusiasts want the Snapdragon 865 to take on the Apple A13 Bionic, its longtime arch-rival. That’s why we bring you an in-depth article on Snapdragon 865 vs Apple A13 Bionic with lots of tidbits along the way. We’ve added benchmark scores and many other key metrics to find out who wins between the Snapdragon 865 Vs A13 Bionic. Without further ado, let’s start with the article.

Comparison: Snapdragon 865 vs A13 Bionic which is better

Here we have thoroughly discussed some key points about the two processors, including CPU, GPU, AI and ML, camera capabilities, and modem. We have added many stats such as benchmark results, various test results, and official numbers to complete both chipsets. If you want to know who wins between the Snapdragon 865, 855+, and 855, check out our separate article. That said, let’s go through the article.

Snapdragon 865 Vs A13 Bionic – Central Processor

While it’s a fierce debate that Apple-developed A-series chips are ahead of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips, in this section we’ll find out the degree of gap between the latest Snapdragon 865 and the A13 Bionic. To give you some perspective, the A13 Bionic was already 50% more powerful than last year’s Snapdragon 855. And according to Qualcomm, the newer Snapdragon 865 is 25% faster than its predecessor. From this, we can conclude that the Snapdragon 865 has narrowed the performance gap of the A13 to 25%. However, it should be noted that it is the single-core performance of both chips. If you count the multi-core performance, they are almost equal to each other.

If you believe Twitter’s “Ice Universe” it’s Snapdragon 865 Geekbench score. To give you an idea, the A13 Bionic scored 5472 in the single-core test and 13769 points in the multi-core test. Compared to the A13 Bionic, the Snapdragon 865 is no slouch when it comes to heavy multithreading tasks. However, when it comes to talking about a CPU’s raw performance and how much it can last, the A13 Bionic is still the reigning king. The two large Lightning cores are one of the most advanced and powerful CPU cores currently available in mobile phones.

Snapdragon 865 Vs A13 Bionic CPU Test

From the above comparison, we get a good idea that Snapdragon 865 is quite a powerful chip, and with A13 Bionic it is almost there. But the real difference is in the energy efficiency and this is where Apple once again takes the lead. At the iPhone’s launch in September, Apple announced that its A13 chip used 40% less power than its predecessor while improving performance by 20%. This is a major turn of events in Apple’s chip development history. And that’s why you’ve seen reports of excellent battery life on the new iPhone 11 series, despite having relatively smaller batteries than most Android phones.

On the other hand, when we launched the Snapdragon 865, we didn’t warn Qualcomm about power efficiency. The company mentioned that the 865 SoC is 25% more energy efficient than its predecessor, but again it falls well within expected lines. It seems Qualcomm is relying too much on its “Prime” core and not making any groundbreaking changes to its BIG-Big-Little architecture. In terms of power efficiency, I’d say the A13 Bionic is much more capable of handling low-power tasks.

Snapdragon 865 Vs A13 Bionic – GPU

As for GPU, Apple has long ruled that front, and even after introducing the Snapdragon 865 with Andreno 650 GPU, that doesn’t change Apple’s reputation. Apple develops its own GPU and comes with four cores. The special thing about the GPU of the A13, however, is that it delivers 20% more power compared to the A12 chip by consuming 40% less power.

This is just crazy, isn’t it? Apart from that, the A13 has a metal motor to significantly boost GPU performance. The Metal Engine allows developers to create sparse textures, rasterization speed maps, vertex gain, and more for intense gaming and graphically heavy content.

Speaking of the Adreno 650, it has a good 25% better graphics performance and also uses 35% less power than its predecessor. That is also a big leap forward from Qualcomm. In addition, the Adreno 650 GPU delivers an elite gaming experience, 144Hz display support, and desktop forward rendering for desktop-class gaming on mobile phones. All in all, Qualcomm seems to be on par with Apple’s custom GPU.

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Snapdragon 865 Vs A13 Bionic GPU test

However, if you look at the A13 Bionic’s benchmark score in the GFX 3.1 Manhattan test, it’s around 120, while the previous year’s 855 only scored 71 points. So with a 25% performance boost this year, the Snapdragon 865 should get a score of less than 90, which is still below the A13 score. It’s still theoretical though, and we’ll have to wait for some real-world testing, so stay tuned.

Snapdragon 865 Vs A13 Bionic AI and ML

When it comes to AI and ML, Qualcomm has shown some promise, but with the introduction of the A13 Bionic, Apple has also pushed the boundaries. The Snapdragon 865 includes the 5th generation AI engine, which means that it is already optimized for various use cases, such as translation, speech recognition, object tracking, and more.

Apple began work on supporting AI and ML on the device, starting with the A11 chip. Apple calls it the “Neural Engine” and is also available on the A13 Bionic. But how powerful is the Neural Engine and can it compete with the Hexagon 698 DSP on the Snapdragon 865? Let’s find out.

First of all, the Snapdragon 865 has the upper hand when it comes to AI and its application in everyday life. For example, the 865 SoC, along with the Hexagon 698 DSP, has a Tensor Accelerator that works hand-in-hand with Google’s TensorFlow library. Many of the Google apps including Google Recorder, Google Lens, etc. already use this feature and it just gets better.

In addition, the Tensor Accelerator on the 865 is 4x more powerful and 35% more energy efficient than its predecessor, which is absolutely great. To give you a coherent number of how powerful the 865 SoC’s AI module is, it can deliver 15 trillion AI operations per second without breaking a sweat. This is absolutely crazy, isn’t it?

Now we come to the 8-core neural engine of the A13 Bionic. According to Apple, it is 20% faster and consumes 15% less power than last year’s A12 chip. But compared to the Snapdragon 865, the A13 Bionic can only perform one trillion AI operations per second.

That’s about 15 times less than Qualcomm’s AI engine. All these numbers tell you that Qualcomm is way ahead in AI and ML operations and the A13 isn’t even close. The only saving grace for Apple is that with the A13 developers can now run their Core ML models locally on their device, but that’s about it.

Snapdragon 865 Vs A13 Bionic Camera power

In terms of camera capabilities, the Snapdragon 855’s Spectra 480 ISP (Image Signal Processor) has seen a massive improvement. It can now record 8K video at 30 FPS and take photos up to 200 megapixels. That’s crazy for a cell phone. But that’s not all, you can now record slow-motion videos at 960 FPS in HD quality (720p). All this is possible thanks to the Gigapixel technology of the Spectra 480 ISP, which allows the device to take such high-resolution photos and videos in a split second.

When switching to the Apple A13 Bionic, the company didn’t reveal many details about the main ISP architecture, other than that it was an Apple-developed image processor. Whatever you make of it, all we can see is that Apple has finally made its way into computer photography and the results are illuminating. The iPhone 11 series produces excellent night mode photos, detailed and sharp images that can easily compete with the best Android phones, including the Google Pixel camera.

Obviously, the custom ISP and Neural Engine are paying off and Apple is no longer behind Android when it comes to photography. Speaking of its video capabilities, it can’t shoot an 8K video yet, but you can certainly shoot a super stable 4K video at 60 FPS with HDR.

In short, Qualcomm definitely has a more powerful ISP. However, the camera performance is not only judged by the ISP, but also by the GPU and CPU. As a leader in these areas, Apple continues to produce very stable and sharp visuals than most Android phones, even if it has more features on paper. Unless Qualcomm improves on its core CPU and GPU architecture, we won’t see super stable videos on Android phones. Stay tuned though, as we’ll be running a lot of advanced testing to see if the upgraded GPU and ISP on Snapdragon 865 do wonders for video stability.

Snapdragon 865 Vs A13 Bionic Modem

Now we come to the modem area, where the Snapdragon 865 clearly wins over Apple A13 Bionic as it is equipped with the next generation X55 5G module. As we already know, the A13 Bionic is equipped with Intel’s XMM 7660 modem, which is limited to LTE. So the comparison between the 865 SoC and the A13 Bionic is literally apple and orange.

To give a little context, Intel has left the modem business, so Apple now has no choice but to ship iPhones with Qualcomm modems starting next year. And many hope that the next generation iPhone will be equipped with the same 5G module. But until that happens, the X55 modem on Snapdragon 865 is much better than anything currently on the market.

Snapdragon 865 Vs A13 Bionic(Device Test Result) Which Is Better?

Qualcomm Device (Snapdragon 865) vs. iPhone 11 Pro Max (Apple A13) – speed test GX 2.0 G

For context, the Snapdragon 855-based Galaxy Note 10 Plus completed the CPU portion of the test in 45.3 seconds, while the iPhone 11 Pro Max completed it in 40.0. The Note 10 Plus was at least five seconds behind the iPhone. But the Snapdragon 865 fared a lot better. In fact, it beats the iPhone 11. The 865 completes the same test in 36.6 seconds. That’s 20% faster than the Snapdragon 855 and 8% better than the iPhone 11.

While C. Scott Brown of the Android Authority is urging all Android and Apple fans to end the hate permanently (which I totally agree with), the Snapdragon’s performance boost should be celebrated because the playing field is now more level than ever.

The Apple A13 still has the upper hand in terms of GPU. The iPhone 11 Pro Max completed the 3D Unity test in 14.5 seconds, while the Qualcomm reference device took 16.9 seconds. However, screen resolution is a factor. The reference device has a screen resolution of 1440 x 2880 (4.1 MP), while the iPhone uses 1242 x 2688 (3.3 MP). So the reference device pushes more pixels around, meaning it works harder.

Qualcomm Reference Device (Snapdragon 865) vs iPhone 11 Pro Max (Apple A13) – Conventional Benchmarks

For those of you who like traditional benchmarks like AnTuTu and Geekbench, here are the numbers the Snapdragon 865 Qualcomm reference device can deliver. For Geekbench 5 single-core, the QRD scores around 935, compared to around 1330 for the iPhone 11. This means that a single-core in the A13 on its own still outperforms a single-core in the Snapdragon 865.

But if you use all the available CPU power, the Snapdragon 865 for Geekbench 5 multi-core scores 3,450 points, compared to 3,480 for the iPhone 11. That means that while Geekbench isn’t saying the Snapdragon 865 can beat the A13, it clearly shows that they are now head to head.

However, AnTuTu 8 produces a different result. The QRD is about 545,000, while my result from an iPhone 11 Pro Max I have here is about 506,100. I’ve seen higher AnTuTu scores online and the official AnTuTu ranking says the iPhone 11 Pro Max should score 549,717, which brings the results much closer.

This means that the two processors compete against each other on a flat surface and as one bump into it, the other parries and then starts a counterattack. The caveat is that AnTuTu and Geekbench scores have a large margin of error. Also, note that these are the numbers for AnTuTu 8 and Geekbench 5. They do not compare with the results of AnTuTu 7 and Geekbench 4, the popular versions at the time when many Snapdragon 855 devices were launched.

It will be interesting to see what smartphone manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, OnePlus, and Sony can do with the Snapdragon 865. Historically, the QRD has usually been a bit slower than the devices that finally hit the market. Let’s also not forget what companies like Xiaomi, Oppo, Lenovo, and Asus were able to do with the Snapdragon 865, as each of them had its own competing SD855-based devices.

Snapdragon 865 Vs A13 Bionic Specifications:

ProcessorQualcomm SM8250 Snapdragon 865Apple A13 Bionic
Market (main)SmartphoneSmartphone
ISAARMv8-A (64-bit)ARMv8.4-A (64-bit)
MicroarchitectureCortex-A77, Cortex-A55Lightning, Thunder
Core nameKryo 585 Prime, Kryo 585 Gold,
Kryo 585 Silver
Lightning, Thunder
FamilySnapdragon 800A series
Part number(s), S-SpecSM8250, SDM865APL1W85
Release dateQ4 2019Q3 2018
Lithography7 nm N7P7 nm (N7 Pro)
Transistors8,500,000,000
Cores86
Threads86
Base frequency1.8 GHz1.8 GHz
Turbo frequency2.8 GHz2.7 GHz
Energy cores4x Qualcomm Kryo 585 Silver @ 1.8 GHz4x Apple Thunder @ 1.8 GHz
High-performance cores1x Qualcomm Kryo 585 Prime @ 2.84 GHz
3x Qualcomm Kryo 585 Gold @ 2.42 GHz
2x Apple Lightning @ 2.65 GHz
Cache memory2 MB8 MB
Max memory capacity16 GB4 GB
Memory typesLPDDR4X-2133, LPDDR5-2750LPDDR4X
Max # of memory channels44
Max memory bandwidth44 GB/s42.7 GB/s
TDP10 W6 W
GPU integrated graphicsQualcomm Adreno 650Apple A13 Bionic GPU
GPU execution units24
GPU shading units512
GPU clock rate587 MHz
GPU FP32 floating point1,250 GFLOPS
SocketSoCSoC
AnTuTu558,510456,660
(Android 64-bit | iOS 64-bit)
Geekbench 4 single core
3,9275,432
(Android 64-bit | iOS 64-bit)
Geekbench 4 multi-core
12,54813,554
(Android | iOS)
Geekbench 5 single core
8241,331
(Android | iOS)
Geekbench 5 multi-core
3,0693,364
(SGEMM)
GFLOPS performance
122.38 GFLOPS154.9 GFLOPS
(Multi-core / watt performance)
Performance / watt ratio
1,255 pts / W2,259 pts / W

Snapdragon 865 Vs A13 Bionic Which Is Better?

In conclusion, it seems that the Snapdragon 865 is still lagging behind the Apple A13 Bionic in terms of CPU and GPU capacity. However, in areas like AI and ML, Qualcomm has done a great job and is at least a generation ahead. And as every year there is support for more pixels and resolution. Not to mention that Qualcomm has always been at the forefront of the modem business, so it is.

I will say this, last year it was believed that Qualcomm was many steps behind Apple in the field of smartphone chipsets. However, it seems that the company has acknowledged its shortcomings and is now on track to rival Apple’s flagship chip. We’ll have to wait and see what A14 bionic brings this year, but it’s clear that the gap between Qualcomm and Apple chips is narrowing.

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