Slay the (Snap)dragon: 10 high-end smartphones that don't use Qualcomm processors

Slay the (Snap)dragon: 10 high-end smartphones that don't use Qualcomm processors
Have you noticed that, lately, more and more high-end smartphones are powered by processors that aren't made by Qualcomm? While it's hard to believe that this is some sort of beginning of the end for Qualcomm, it's clear that the company now has serious competitors when it comes to mobile chipsets.

MediaTek is already hugely popular in Asia, Intel is slowly gaining ground, and Samsung... well, Samsung has been a potential threat to Qualcomm for some time, despite the fact that it's often relying on Qualcomm solutions itself.

Right now, the selection of high-end handsets that are using non-Qualcomm processors is quite impressive. Let's check it out (in alphabetical order):

Apple is well known for not using Qualcomm processors. The Cupertino giant is designing its own chipsets, manufacturing them with help from other companies (since Apple is not exactly a chipmaker). The iPhone 6 packs a 20nm Apple A8 chipset (manufactured by TSMC) that includes a dual-core, 64-bit 1.4 GHz CPU. This may seem unimpressive compared to the rest of the high-end processors out there, but performance is top notch anyway.

The larger and more expensive version of Apple's latest smartphone is also powered by the A8 chipset - in the exact same configuration (dual-core 1.4 GHz). Despite the fact that the iPhone 6 Plus has a larger screen with a higher pixel resolution (1080 x 1920), it offers the same performance as the 4.7-inch model, since iOS is optimized to work perfectly with only two CPU cores.

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Recently released in the US (and also available in many other countries), the Asus ZenFone 2 is a surprising smartphone, because it costs just $299 unlocked, and yet offers plenty of high-end features. Obviously, we're talking about the top-of-the-line ZenFone 2 here - the ZE551ML model - which comes with a 64-bit, quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 processor clocked at 2.3 GHz, 4 GB of RAM, a 5.5-inch 1080p display, and Android Lollipop.

To some, the HTC One M9+ might represent what the One M9 was supposed to be: a Quad HD smartphone with fingerprint scanner. However, the One M9+ is not a global device (it won't be released in the US), instead being a handset targeted at China and other South Asian markets. The M9+ features a 5.2-inch display with 1440 x 2560 pixels, Android Lollipop with Sense 7.0 UI, a 20 MP Duo rear camera, 3 GB of RAM, and a 64-bit, octa-core MediaTek MT6795T processor clocked at 2.2 GHz.

Announced in April, the P8 is Huawei's newest flagship smartphone. As you may know, Huawei is making its own processors, and we're not surprised to see that the P8 uses one of them: a 64-bit HiSilicon Kirin 930 with 8 cores clocked at up to 2.0 GHz. The handset has a 6.4mm-thin metal body, while also featuring a 5.2-inch 1080p display, a 13 MP rear camera, 8 MP front-facing camera, and 3 GB of RAM.

As its name suggests, the Huawei P8 Max is the bigger brother of the P8. It's powered by the same Kirin 930 processor, but sports a way larger display: a 6.8-inch one (with 1080 x 1920 pixels). Another noteworthy feature of the P8 Max is its 4360 mAh battery. Both the P8 and P8 Max run Android Lollipop with Huawei's EMUI 3.1 UI on top.

Released towards the end of last year, the Lenovo Vibe X2 is the world's first smartphone to have a multi-layered metal design (which means we can see three different colors when the handset is viewed from the sides). The Vibe X2 has a 2.0 GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6595M processor inside, further featuring a 5-inch 1080p display, 2 GB of RAM, a 13 MP rear camera, and a 5 MP front-facing camera.

Available in some markets since December, the MX4 Pro is Meizu's most advanced smartphone to date. This is one of the few non-Samsung handsets that use an Exynos processor: a 2 GHz octa-core Exynos 5430, to be exact. That aside, the Meizu MX4 Pro offers a 5.5-inch display with 1536 x 2560 pixels (a weird resolution, we know), 3 GB of RAM, a 20 MP rear camera, 5 MP front-facing camera, 64 GB of storage space, and a 3350 mAh battery.

The Galaxy S6 represents a fresh start for Samsung, but not just when it comes to design. The S6 is also Samsung's first flagship in many years to exclusively use an Exynos chipset. While previous Galaxy flagships had at least one variant that was powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, there are no Snapdragon-based S6 models. All are using Samsung's 64-bit octa-core Exynos 7420 - the world's first 14nm smartphone processor. Besides packing this powerful CPU, the S6 offers lots of other high-end features, including a 5.1-inch Quad HD (1440 x 2560) display, a 16 MP rear camera, heart rate sensor, fingerprint scanner, 3 GB of RAM, and up to 128 GB of storage space.

Similar to the regular S6, the Galaxy S6 edge is powered by Samsung's Exynos 7420 processor. The S6 edge is about $100 more expensive than the S6, because its screen is curved on the sides, giving it a unique look (and some extra software features).

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1. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

S6 Edge, 6 Plus and ZenPhone are just.... beautiful.

13. waddup121 unregistered


23. Simona unregistered

no Huawei P8 BEST looking or P8 Max

2. camera531

Posts: 346; Member since: Jun 30, 2012

I think I'm the only one that likes the regular 6 more than the edge.

8. Ruturaj

Posts: 1484; Member since: Oct 16, 2014

I like both but prefer regular S6.

19. Hotboy92282

Posts: 2; Member since: Jun 05, 2015

I was going to get the s6 but I got the regular note 4 and glad cause the edge doesn't work with gear vr s6 edge does so I got the edge of feels good in your hand but it lacks the edge software from the note really isn't a lot to it but it does feel great in your hand but it still has some features just wish they would put out an update to do more with it like with the note

27. Virage

Posts: 88; Member since: May 25, 2015

Yeah. Not must of an edge person

10. Max_Boost

Posts: 101; Member since: Sep 22, 2012

Seems like it. LOL

16. WallStreetWolf

Posts: 289; Member since: Apr 08, 2013

I would agree with you. I think the Edge is useless and makes the device a little less ergonomic, but that is my opinion. They should have released one device. I don't care for it as much, but I think that device should have been the Edge to be honest. I think people would have been more receptive of the S6 Edge by itself as one model in terms of sales. It has received great reviews, but two separate phones with the same specs was unnecessary. Who am I though? lol

3. theguy2345

Posts: 1216; Member since: Jun 24, 2014

I just want to know why there are so little phones that are released with snapdragons in the US. Other places, there seem to be tons, but not in the US.

4. UglyFrank

Posts: 2194; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Mediatek dont make highend, not just yet

5. carlemillward unregistered

Intel, HiSilicon and Mediatek still have a long way to go to be alternatives for Qualcomm. Just when they think they caught up then Qualcomm, introduces something more powerful. I'm glad they settled on custom CPU using Samsung instead of TMSC foundries.

6. cezarepc

Posts: 718; Member since: Nov 23, 2012

Intel is a close. HiSilicon and Mediatek are both miles away from Snaps.

14. kaikuheadhunterz

Posts: 1157; Member since: Jul 18, 2013

- Intel is about there, judging from the benchmarks done by GSMArena (​e-2-ze551ml-intel-atom-z3580-soc-4gb-ram/). They just need to work on convincing consumers that a quad-core Atom processor is better than an octa-core/deca-core ARM processor. - Mediatek nailed it in terms of raw CPU performance and battery efficiency. Not so much on GPU. - I'm not even sure what HiSilicon is doing.

15. WallStreetWolf

Posts: 289; Member since: Apr 08, 2013

Read the Anandtech review on the P8 and it isn't that pretty with the Kirin processors. I expected better. Baby steps for Huawei.

24. Simona unregistered

I DO NOT recommend read reviews or articles on anandtech.. as they ar only applef**kers.. or samsung... they think it is from china , auto they reviewing it not professionally and only negatively ! Check real youtube reviews ...

21. hound.master

Posts: 1044; Member since: Feb 27, 2015

The new mediatek chipsets that claim efficiency are just sucks how can an 28nm build chip have efficiency?

22. kaikuheadhunterz

Posts: 1157; Member since: Jul 18, 2013

By existing? There's a reason why the kings of battery life (at least according to GSMArena) have 28nm chipsets

18. WallStreetWolf

Posts: 289; Member since: Apr 08, 2013

I think the 810 has set Qualcomm back slightly in terms of reputation. It wasn't the product the consumer was promised. Intel moved closer in that regard.

7. Tondern

Posts: 164; Member since: Feb 23, 2015

^This exactly. And Intel will give Sammy, Apple, Qualcomm some nice competition 1-2 years from now. Maybe even dominate like they do in everything from Laptops to servers.

9. Ruturaj

Posts: 1484; Member since: Oct 16, 2014

Might be 1-2 but I think longer.

11. Max_Boost

Posts: 101; Member since: Sep 22, 2012

S6 Edge FTW. :D

12. ThePython

Posts: 902; Member since: May 08, 2013

They're not packing heat.

17. WallStreetWolf

Posts: 289; Member since: Apr 08, 2013

Intel is moving up the ladder. I was very impressed with my Lenovo S8 tablet with the Z3745 processor. They need to improve upon power efficiency more than anything, but they have the money behind them to leapfrog Qualcomm eventually. I am seeing more and more devices with Intel inside as far as Android is concerned.

20. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Waiting for a Zenfone 6 2015 edition.

25. Simona unregistered

Parena P8 Max has kirin 935 NOT 930 .. OK ?

26. kkmkk

Posts: 699; Member since: May 06, 2013

Note 4 exynos version as well I replaced my note 4 SD 805 with the exynos 7 version and it is way better especially the battery life 6 hours at least of screen on Time

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