Buy­ing a new phone is accom­pa­nied by a num­ber of dif­fi­cul­ties when choos­ing. One of the ques­tions that needs to be addressed is which proces­sor is best for a smart­phone? It is the chipset or the so-called SoC that affects the per­for­mance, auton­o­my and mul­ti­task­ing of the device.

In size, the Snap­drag­on 888 proces­sor is infe­ri­or even to a micro SD mem­o­ry card. Source: gadgetmatch.com

There are sev­er­al major proces­sor man­u­fac­tur­ers, includ­ing Qual­comm, Apple, Sam­sung, and Medi­atek. It is note­wor­thy that the Kore­an man­u­fac­tur­er Sam­sung equips its flag­ships with third-par­ty Snap­drag­on chipsets from Qual­comm, and proces­sors of its own pro­duc­tion Exynos. We will now find out how chipsets of dif­fer­ent brands and mod­i­fi­ca­tions dif­fer from each oth­er.

Num­ber of proces­sor cores
Proces­sor fre­quen­cy
The process tech­nol­o­gy or what nanome­ters affect
Top Smart­phone Proces­sor Man­u­fac­tur­ers
Top proces­sors 2021–2022

Number of processor cores

The proces­sor for a smart­phone is also called a sin­gle-chip sys­tem. It is an elec­tron­ic cir­cuit that per­forms the func­tions of a whole device and is placed on a com­mon inte­grat­ed cir­cuit board. The tech­ni­cal para­me­ters of each SoC indi­cate the num­ber of its cores. Each of them exe­cutes a spe­cif­ic com­mand stream. The more cores, the bet­ter the chipset copes with mul­ti­thread­ing and the more pro­duc­tive it is.

Almost all mod­ern proces­sors for smart­phones con­sist of eight cores. How­ev­er, not all eight proces­sor cores have equal per­for­mance. Com­pa­nies that pro­duce sin­gle-chip sys­tems install sev­er­al clus­ters — one, two or three. They are used for dif­fer­ent tasks:

  • Weak. These include watch­ing videos, surf­ing the web, and mak­ing phone calls.
  • Ordi­nary. Using the cam­era to take pho­tos or videos.
  • Pro­duc­tive. Video pro­cess­ing, games, work with neur­al net­works.

Clus­ter­ing is required to improve ener­gy effi­cien­cy. The high­er the fre­quen­cy of the proces­sor, the faster the bat­tery drains. Accord­ing­ly, to solve weak prob­lems, less pro­duc­tive, but more ener­gy-effi­cient cores are used.

The most com­mon two-clus­ter sys­tems. One clus­ter usu­al­ly con­tains more pro­duc­tive cores, while the sec­ond clus­ter con­tains less pow­er­ful, but ener­gy effi­cient ones. This sep­a­ra­tion allows the smart­phone to con­fi­dent­ly cope with the tasks and save bat­tery pow­er — depend­ing on the sit­u­a­tion, cores from a cer­tain clus­ter are con­nect­ed.

Processor frequency

Due to the fact that almost all smart­phone proces­sors in 2021 have eight cores, fre­quen­cy is a key para­me­ter that affects their per­for­mance. It deter­mines how many puls­es the chipset makes per unit of time dur­ing oper­a­tion. The high­er the fre­quen­cy, the more oper­a­tions the gad­get per­forms. At the same time, there is a log­i­cal pat­tern — more pro­duc­tive chipsets drain the bat­tery faster.

More ener­gy effi­cient are smart­phones whose proces­sors have cores of dif­fer­ent class­es. Also, they do not always oper­ate at max­i­mum fre­quen­cy. It can adapt to cur­rent tasks. For exam­ple, when surf­ing the web, the chipset can oper­ate at a fre­quen­cy of 200–300 MHz, and in games it can increase to 2.5 GHz or more, depend­ing on the pow­er of the SoC.

From the back, the smart­phone chipset looks like a proces­sor for a lap­top or PC. Source: tadviser.ru

For exam­ple, in 2015–2016, Snap­drag­on 415, Snap­drag­on 425 and Snap­drag­on 435 chipsets were used, which were clocked at 1.4 GHz. In 2021–2022, top-end Snap­drag­on 888+ and Snap­drag­on 8 Gen 1 proces­sors are installed in the flag­ships, the oper­at­ing fre­quen­cy of which reach­es 3 GHz.

The process technology or what nanometers affect

When com­par­ing smart­phone proces­sors, you need to take into account not only the fre­quen­cy and num­ber of cores, but also the man­u­fac­tur­ing process by which the chipset is made. It is deter­mined in nanome­ters, and in the tech­ni­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics of a sin­gle-chip sys­tem, this para­me­ter is referred to as “Nm”. The more mod­ern the chipset, the low­er the num­ber in front of this mark­ing, that is, a 7 Nm proces­sor is much more effi­cient than a 14 Nm one.

The numer­i­cal val­ue indi­cates the size of each tran­sis­tor. The small­er it is, the more they can be placed on the same area, and the high­er the over­all per­for­mance of the smart­phone. At the same time, small tran­sis­tors heat up less and con­sume bat­tery pow­er more eco­nom­i­cal­ly under load.

The best proces­sors for smart­phones in 2021–2022 were cre­at­ed using a 5–7 Nm process tech­nol­o­gy, while state employ­ees and mid-range employ­ees have SoCs of 8–12 Nm. It is gen­er­al­ly bet­ter not to buy devices with chipsets over 15 Nm — from a tech­ni­cal point of view, they are already out­dat­ed.

Top Smartphone Processor Manufacturers

If you study the mar­ket for mobile devices, it becomes clear that most of them have chipsets from five man­u­fac­tur­ers.


Con­sid­ered one of the best proces­sors for Android smart­phones. The man­u­fac­tur­er keeps in touch with soft­ware devel­op­ers, so the soft­ware for mobile gad­gets was ini­tial­ly adapt­ed specif­i­cal­ly for Snap­drag­on chipsets from Qual­comm. For exam­ple, the flag­ship Galaxy Z Fold3 from Sam­sung has a top-end Snap­drag­on 888, while the Hon­or 50 Lite has a weak Snap­drag­on 662.


If Qual­comm is famous for its flag­ship proces­sors, then Medi­atek is known for its bud­get sin­gle-chip sys­tems. In the pur­chase, they cost about 30% cheap­er than Qual­comm chips.

Medi­atek is try­ing to turn the tide with the lat­est proces­sors. The lat­est gen­er­a­tion of MTK Dimen­si­ty 1100 chipsets suc­cess­ful­ly com­petes with Qual­comm sys­tems. For this, devel­op­ers are mak­ing efforts to mod­ern­ize pro­duc­tion.

Medi­aTek proces­sors are marked accord­ing­ly on the out­er sur­face. Source: min.news

The Medi­aTek Dimen­si­ty 1100 is installed in the Xiao­mi Poco X3 GT, while the top-end Dimen­si­ty 1200 is found in the One­Plus Nord 2 5G and Xiao­mi 11T flag­ships.


The per­for­mance of Apple smart­phone proces­sors has always been on top. Every year, the com­pa­ny releas­es a new gen­er­a­tion of chipsets, installing them in its new iPhones and iPads. Apple proces­sors are not found in devices from oth­er brands. With each gen­er­a­tion, the man­u­fac­tur­er improves the process tech­nol­o­gy, reduc­ing nanome­ters, and also increas­es the fre­quen­cy of the cores.


The Kore­an com­pa­ny owns a line of Exynos chipsets, which are slight­ly infe­ri­or to Qual­comm proces­sors in per­for­mance and ener­gy effi­cien­cy. But the lat­est mod­els of these chips have a built-in neu­ro­proces­sor for pro­cess­ing pho­tos dur­ing the shoot­ing process. Thanks to this tech­nol­o­gy, images from Sam­sung smart­phones in terms of the qual­i­ty of auto­mat­ic post-pro­cess­ing often out­per­form com­peti­tors on oth­er proces­sors with sim­i­lar cam­era mod­ules.

Let’s take the Sam­sung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra as an exam­ple. Mod­els on the Exynos proces­sor are sup­plied to the Russ­ian mar­ket, and Snap­drag­on to the Amer­i­can and Asian mar­kets. The first, when com­par­ing the qual­i­ty of images, are dis­tin­guished by their high­er qual­i­ty.


These proces­sors belong to Huawei, for whose gad­gets they are intend­ed. Also, these chips are installed in Hon­or devices. HiSil­i­con proces­sors do not dif­fer in record per­for­mance, but are famous for ener­gy effi­cien­cy — they con­sume bat­tery pow­er very eco­nom­i­cal­ly. For exam­ple, the Huawei Nova 8 smart­phone has a 3800 mAh bat­tery, which is not much by mod­ern stan­dards. Thanks to the HiSil­i­con Kirin 820 proces­sor, the bat­tery lasts for two days of using the gad­get at medi­um loads.

Top processors 2021–2022

Final­ly, con­sid­er a small rat­ing of proces­sors for smart­phones, which includes not the lat­est, but the most pop­u­lar chipsets for devices run­ning Android and iOS.


A14 Bion­ic is not the most pow­er­ful chip from Apple. It was released in the fall of 2020, and it was cre­at­ed using a 5 Nm process tech­nol­o­gy. It has 6 cores and fre­quen­cy up to 3100 MHz. It has an inte­grat­ed graph­ics accel­er­a­tor Apple GPU with 4 com­put­ing units. Installed it in the iPhone 12 and iPad Air 4.

In per­for­mance tests, the A15 Bion­ic out­per­forms its direct com­peti­tor Snap­drag­on 888 by 3–5%. Source: iphoneislam.com

In 2021, this chip was replaced by the A15 Bion­ic. It was also cre­at­ed accord­ing to the 5 Nm process tech­nol­o­gy, but the fre­quen­cy was increased to 3223 MHz. The num­ber of GPU com­put­ing units has also been increased — now there are 5 of them. The chipset is found in all ver­sions of the iPhone 13.


In 2020, Qual­comm intro­duced the flag­ship Snap­drag­on 888 chip at 5nm, con­sist­ing of 8 cores and clocked at up to 2.84 GHz MHz. It works with the Kryo 680 graph­ics core, which can han­dle the most demand­ing games. In the sec­ond quar­ter of 2021, the proces­sor was over­clocked to 2.995 GHz, while the rest of the para­me­ters remained the same.

Lat­er that year, Qual­comm engi­neers intro­duced a new line of flag­ship chipsets — Snap­drag­on 8 Gen 1. The proces­sor was cre­at­ed using a 4 nm process tech­nol­o­gy and has 8 cores. The max­i­mum fre­quen­cy is 3 GHz. It works in con­junc­tion with the Adreno 730 graph­ics accel­er­a­tor, which is also devel­oped by Qual­comm and is respon­si­ble for graph­ics pro­cess­ing. Espe­cial­ly its per­for­mance is impor­tant in games. If you need a smart­phone with a pow­er­ful proces­sor in 2022, you should take a clos­er look at gad­gets with a Snap­drag­on 8 Gen 1 chip on board. Among them are Realme GT 2 Pro, Xiao­mi 12 and 12 Pro, One­Plus 10 Pro and oth­ers.


The Exynos 2100 is Sam­sung’s lat­est chip to date, built on a 5nm process and con­sist­ing of 8 cores with a max­i­mum fre­quen­cy of 2.9GHz. It works with the Arm Mali-G78 graph­ics core and is installed in such smart­phones from the Kore­an man­u­fac­tur­er as Galaxy S21, S21+ and S21 Ultra. In terms of effi­cien­cy in demand­ing games, this chip is 10% infe­ri­or to its com­peti­tor Snap­drag­on 888 with iden­ti­cal graph­ics set­tings. This will result in a small FPS drop, but giv­en the large head­room of the chipset, it will be almost unno­tice­able.

The advan­tage of the Exynos 2100 is the avail­abil­i­ty of addi­tion­al cores for pho­to pro­cess­ing and posi­tion­ing the smart­phone in space. Auto­mat­ic post-pro­cess­ing allows AI to improve the qual­i­ty of the images it cre­ates, while bet­ter posi­tion­ing allows for more accu­rate and faster nav­i­ga­tion.


The Kirin 9000 does not lag behind the flag­ship Snap­drag­on 888 in per­for­mance, but needs more pow­er­ful cool­ing under load. In every­day use, it deserves the title of one of the most ener­gy effi­cient chips. Oper­ates at fre­quen­cies up to 3.13 GHz and is based on a 5 Nm process tech­nol­o­gy. The chipset is installed in smart­phones Huawei Mate 40 and Huawei 50.


MTK releas­es the flag­ship Dimen­si­ty 1100 chipsets, which are almost on par with Snap­drag­on and Exynos com­peti­tors. This is also an 8‑core proces­sor with a fre­quen­cy of up to 2.6 GHz. Cre­at­ed on the 6 Nm process tech­nol­o­gy, but in terms of opti­miza­tion it sur­pass­es HiSil­i­con chips devel­oped using the same tech­nol­o­gy. It’s all about a bet­ter com­bi­na­tion of per­for­mance and ener­gy effi­cien­cy.

A device with Dimen­si­ty 1100 is suit­able for mobile gamers who do not want to spend a lot on a smart­phone with a Snap­drag­on proces­sor. The proces­sor is installed in Vivo S10 and S12, Xiao­mi Poco X3 GT and Realme Q3 Pro.


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