Smartphones featuring Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 888 processor are expected to begin shipping in early 2021 and when the chip maker unveiled its next-gen flagship earlier this month, Qualcomm promised up to a 25 percent boost in CPU performance, a 35 percent improvement in graphics, and even bigger gains in some AI tasks.

Now the company is providing some numbers to (at least partially) back up those claims.

Qualcomm has released a set of benchmark results showing how the chip scores on synthetic performance tests. These aren’t always indicative of real-world performance, but they do provide one way to compare performance of different processors running the exact same software.


The results? Unsurprisingly, the Snapdragon 888 is Qualcomm’s fastest smartphone processor to date. As promised, it delivers higher single-core and multi-core CPU performance than the Snapdragon 865 or Snapdragon 865+ and sees even bigger gains in graphics performance.

That’s unsurprising since the octa-core processor is the first chip to feature a single high-performance CPU core based on ARM Cortex-X1 technology, and the first to feature Qualcomm Adreno 660 graphics.

But as AnandTech points out, the fastest chip for Android phones still lags behind Apple’s fastest iPhone chips. In fact, not only does the current-gen iPhone 12 Pro still score higher in most tests, but in some tests the 2019 iPhone 11 Pro comes out ahead of the Snapdragon 888 processor that will be used for many 2021 Android flagship phones.

Here are a few data points:

Snapdragon 888iPhone 11 Pro (A13)iPhone 12 Pro (A14)Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (SD865+)
GeekBench 5 single-core1,1351,3311,603983
GeekBench 5 multi-core3,7943,3664,1873,245
GFXBench Aztec Ruins861029160

In other words, Qualcomm’s next-gen chip scores higher than Apple’s previous-gen in multi-core CPU performance, but it falls behind in single-core performance and graphics.

But one thing that’s not captured in the benchmarks above is the huge generational leap in AI performance Qualcomm has made with the new chip. In some tests, the Snapdragon 888 performs as much as three times well as a phone with a Snapdragon 865+ processor.

This could come in handy for applications that take advantage of machine learning to do things like image recognition and classification or object detection for augmented reality applications, automatic scene adjustments in the camera app, or on-device speech recognition and language processing.

Unfortunately it’s harder to compare AI performance between Qualcomm and Apple chips, because I’m not aware of any iPhone results for the AI benchmarks Qualcomm used in its tests.

Keep in mind that so far all we have to gauge the true performance of the Snapdragon 888 processor are promises and test results presented by the chip maker. We’ll find out what real-world performance looks like once devices begin shipping in early 2021.

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9 replies on “Next year’s Android phones will be almost as fast as last year’s iPhones”

  1. Keep in mind that these SD 888 results are from a reference platform, and may not represent the final performance of the products using it.

    ie they may be faster, perhaps significantly so.

    Given ARM’s 30% IPC figure for A77 -> X1 that GB5 score looks very anaemic vs the current products based on SD 865, especially given that SIMD performance could as much as double for X1 given it has twice the NEON units that A78 does, as many in fact as Apple A13.

  2. I still don’t get this speed race for smartphones. What kind of software on a phone even comes close to needing this power? Perhaps on a tablet, but even that is a stretch. I wish these gains would go toward battery life instead. Last time i felt my smartphone needed more speed was in 2012… but I really wish I could squeeze more than 2-3 days of battery time out of my Android phone.

      1. It’s a Blackberry KeyOne. I belive it’s mainly because I’ve limited apps running in the background (I pretty much only use open source apps that don’t do all sorts of weird stuff in the background) and don’t use a Google account (so I don’t use all the battery-draining things that comes with that like background sync, app scanning, backup, etc. My mail program only look for new mail when I actually open it, for example. Works wonders! 😀

      1. For phones/tablets on the move yes definitely.

        But for performance laptops using it then more IPC is always better.

        Emulation on Windows on ARM will definitely love one of these, especially as their last chip was the A76 based 8cx.

    1. How about using one of those Anker PowerCore battery chargers? They are small and portable and allow the phone to remain lightweight.

  3. but it falls behind in multi-core performance and graphics.

    I think you meant “single core” here. 🙂

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