Android gets its savior! Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 a giant leap, beats iPhone 14 Pro Max in gaming performance

First Android flagships with Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 beat the iPhone 14 Pro Max in gaming performance
It has finally happened! The iPhone 14 Pro Max and the Apple's A16 Bionic chip inside it are no longer the fastest ones on the market!

Apple has recently dominated the mobile silicon race, and we have been waiting for a worthy rival from Qualcomm for years, and after falling short multiple times, it finally seems to have a winner on its hands!

We have just finished testing the first real-world flagships with the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip and the results are in: these phones do indeed feature faster graphics performance than the iPhone 14 Pro series!

The device we have for this test is the new camera powerhouse, the Vivo X90 Pro Plus, but others like the Xiaomi 13 Pro are coming soon with the same chip, not to mention the Galaxy S23 series, which is rumored to have an overclocked version of that same Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip. Exciting stuff!

But before we continue with the actual test results, let us quickly clarify that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 has a faster GPU, but the CPU performance is actually still slightly behind the Apple A16 chip, so do remember that before attaching any labels to each of these processors. With this in mind, let's turn to the results of our testing!

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 vs Apple A16 Bionic tested

Great news for 2023 Android phones!

Our go-to benchmark for graphics performance in the last couple of years has been the excellent 3D Mark Wildlife Extreme Stress Test.

This is a simulation of a highly demanding gaming experience that works the GPU hard, but what is most important about this benchmark is that it runs for 20 minutes straight. Many other benchmarks only run for a couple of minutes and thus can only measure the initial burst of performance, but do not account for the thermal throttling that happens after a short while on most smartphones.

This 3D Mark test avoids that pitfall and gives us a comprehensive and realistic picture of the GPU performance over time.

So here are the actual graphics performance scores from the Vivo X90 Pro Plus (Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip) and the Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max (Apple A16 Bionic chip):

So what are we seeing here exactly?

Analyzing the results, we see that the Vivo hits a score of 3,726 points vs 3,210 points on the iPhone in the very beginning before we see any throttling, a 16% difference in favor of the Vivo.

But those numbers are actually quite misleading because as you can see in the screenshots above, the iPhone throttles practically immediately, on the second minute, while the Vivo starts slowly and gradually dropping its performance around the 8 minute mark, so it can sustain that peak performance for far longer.

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A full 20 minutes into the test, the two phones hit the following numbers: 3,251 on the Vivo and 2,309 on the iPhone, a MASSIVE DIFFERENCE of around 41% in favor of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 on the Vivo! That is a really impressive showing!

At the same time, we ought to mention that while both phones warmed up, the Vivo was actually scorching hot to the point where I wouldn't want to hold it immediately after the test. I had to bring it to a colder room so it would chill for a couple of minutes! And if anecdotal experience is worth something, this is the hottest phone I have touched in my experience.

It also lost a whopping 15% in battery life for the 20-minute duration of the test, while the iPhone only lost 8%, so the Vivo was draining at double the speeds! This definitely has a lot to do with that higher temperature.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 has proven that it is an extremely capable chip, but what is no less important is that it needs a lot of cooling to sustain those numbers, and we feel Vivo could have done more on this front.

We are yet to test whether playing a demanding game like Genshin Impact at max settings would make the Vivo X90 Pro Plus uncomfortably hot, because great performance is awesome, but if the phone gets too hot, many people would just not want to use it like that.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 vs A16 Bionic: CPU performance tested

We mentioned earlier that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 phones fall slightly behind the A16 Bionic in CPU performance, so let's take a closer look at that difference.

On the Vivo X90 Pro Plus, we are getting the following results:

This works out to the following difference in percentage points:
  • iPhone 14 Pro Max (A16) has 26.5% faster single-core performance
  • iPhone 14 Pro Max (A16) has 4.8% faster multi-core performance

This is a noticeable difference, especially in single-core performance metrics, but it's worth pointing out that the gap is shrinking significantly with the release of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.

What makes these results possible?

A switch to a new foundry might be the difference maker

As we mentioned in the beginning, Qualcomm has been trying to catch up to Apple for years, but unsuccessfully. This year, however, the major shift might have been just a switch in manufacturing as the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is manufactured at the TSMC factory using the 4nm node.

Previous chips that were manufactured at a Samsung foundry had some issues, so it might just be the switch in higher quality manufacturing that has given this big boost.

Keep in mind that Apple is also using the TSMC foundry and its A16 Bionic chip is also manufactured using the very same 4nm technology. 

Of course, the new design of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip helps as well, notably the higher frequencies of the performance core compared to earlier generations of Qualcomm processors.

Vivo X90 Pro Plus: 1-inch camera sensor magic!

A very promising start for 2023 Android flagships

The Vivo X90 Pro Plus, however, is an exciting device not just for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 inside it, but probably even more so for that 1-inch type sensor used for the main camera, a much larger sensor than used on mainstream phones and promising a giant leap in quality.

We have already started testing that and you will see an in-depth comparison with the iPhone 14 Pro Max and other flagships coming soon, so remember to stay tuned for that too!

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