The first Snapdragon 865 benchmarks are out, here's how it compares to Apple's A13

The first Snapdragon 865 benchmarks are out, here's how it compares to the iPhone 11 Pro
 Just two weeks ago, Qualcomm officially announced the Snapdragon 865 chipset, which is set to power most of next year’s premium Android handsets. While the 865 will bring widespread 5G support, improved battery efficiency, and more powerful AI processing, the first reported benchmarks give us a glimpse of how much of a raw speed boost the new Snapdragon will offer. 

According to Forbes, the Qualcomm’s reference device for the Snapdragon 865 scores an impressive 3445 on the Geekbench 5 multi-core benchmark in performance mode, boasting performance just slightly behind the venerable A13 Bionic-powered iPhone 11 Pro. On the other hand, the latests Snapdragon thus offers a significant boost over this year’s Snapdragon 855, which powers most current flagships and scores around 2500-3000. So we know the 865 processor will rival the A13, at least. 

Another major benchmark is AnTuTu 8, where the 865 scored shockingly well. Android Authority reports a score of 540,000- not only is that a huge boost over the 855-powered Pixel 4’s 420,000 score, it’s significantly higher than the iPhone 11 Pro’s 506,000. No benchmark can perfectly simulate real usage, both in day-to-day use and more demanding tasks, but these high scores are incredibly promising. 

Of course, one other way the Snapdragon 865 offers a marked boost over this year’s chipsets is with its increased focus on AI, including support for a new neural core processor. In AImark, an artificial intelligence-based benchmark, the Qualcomm reference device scored a sky-high 108,650, completely blasting the iPhone 11 Pro’s 59,330 out of the water. As more and more software takes advantage of AI systems, the Snapdragon 865 may have a serious edge on many of its competitors. 

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What does this mean? Well, first things first- the Snapdragon 865 is not so game-changing that it somehow makes all current chips obsolete. With the exception of some niche tests, it performs roughly similarly to its peers, like Apple’s A13 Bionic, Samsung’s Exynos 990, or Huawei’s Kirin 990. So in actual everyday usage, you might not notice that the Snapdragon is markedly faster than any other 2020 flagship- the difference will likely depend more on specific hardware and software configurations.

On the other hand, Apple’s house-made chipsets have historically always been at the top of the hill, and this is the first time a Snapdragon rival has come close to having it beat- let alone actually outperforming it in a major benchmark. That means iPhones and Androids are more neck-and-neck than ever before.

But the Snapdragon 865 is next year’s chip, while the iPhone 11 is here already, you say? That’s true, but consider this- the Snapdragon 855 is already a year old, while the A13 was only announced three months ago. Apple’s A13 will power the latest iPhones for the majority of 2020, just as the Snapdragon 865 will do on the Android side of things. The two release cycles are not timed to be in sync with each other, which causes some misconceptions about which chipsets are comparable generation-wise.

In any case, it’s important to appreciate that all flagships across manufacturers and operating systems are becoming more and more advanced- they’ll need all the extra oomph they can get to power 5G connectivity and all the extra consumption that’ll bring with it. In all honesty, we still can’t know for sure if the Snapdragon 865 is the be-all, end-all chipset of 2020, but we do know that it’ll give Apple a run for its money for sure. The playing field is level now- let the games begin.

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