The flagship chipsets last year were already quite impressive and Qualcomm maintained a lead (on the Android side of things) with its Snapdragon 845. In 2019, we could witness a significant boost in general flagship phone performances, owing to the shift to more efficient 7nm process and to the adoption of new ARM core designs. The SD 845 will soon be replaced by the Snapdragon 855 in most 2019 flagships.
So, precisely how much better is Snapdragon 855 when compared to Snapdragon 845? Should you expect a world of difference when it comes to performance? Let’s discuss.
Snapdragon 855 vs Snapdragon 845: Specifications
|Mobile Platform||Snapdragon 855||Snapdragon 845|
|Cores||2.84GHz Kryo 485 Gold Core (Cortex A76- based), 512KB L2 Cache
2.4GHz 3x kKryo 485 Gold cores (Cortex A76-based), 256KB L2 Cache each
1.8GHz 4x Kryo Silver Cores (Cortex A55-based), 128KB L2 Cache each
2MB L3 Cache
|2.8GHz Kryo 385 Gold Cores
(Cortex A75-based), 256KB L2 Cache each
4 x Kryo 385 Silver Cores
(Cortex A55-based), 128KB L2 Cache each
2MB L3 Cache
|GPU||Adreno 640||Adreno 630|
|RAM||4x 16-bit CH @ 2133MHz
3MB system cache
|4x 16-bit CH @ 1866MHz
3MB system cache
|Modem||Snapdragon X24 LTE||Snapdragon X20 LTE|
|ISP||Dual 14-bit Spectra 380
Supports up to one 48MP sensor
Supports up to two 22MP sensors
|Dual 14-bit Spectra 280
Supports up to one 32MP sensor
Supports up to two 16MP sensors
|DSP||Hexagon 690 with integrated tensor accelerator unit (or NPU)
Voice assistant AI Module
|Encode/ Decode||2160p60 10-bit H.265
HDR10, HDR10+, HLG
|160p60 10-bit H.265
Snapdragon 855 vs Snapdragon 845: Performance
- Qualcomm claims 45% improvement in performance over Snapdragon 845
- Qualcomm also claims better App launch time than other 2019 flagship chipsets (Kirin 980 and Apple A12)
The primary highlight of the Snapdragon 855 is its new Cortex A76-based cores. That, combined with the more power efficient 7nm process, should give Snapdragon 855 a significant performance boost.
There is another factor to be considered, though – the core configuration. Like other contemporary rivals, Qualcomm shifts to a tri-cluster configuration with SD 855. There are still 4 Kryo Gold (1+3 configuration) and 4 Kryo Silver cores, but they are now arranged in three clusters.
The top-performing Kryo 485 Gold ‘Prime’ core is clocked at 2.84GHz and has a wider 512KB L2 cache (compared to 256KB on other Gold cores), and this should enhance performance under loads like web browsing where there is one large thread to be executed.
At the same time, the Prime core shares the same voltage plane with the other two cores, so we will have to see how power efficient the 855 turns out to be on high loads. Unexpectedly, Qualcomm hasn’t increased the size of L3 cache this year (In comparison, the Kirin 980 gets 4MB L3 cash).
Snapdragon 855 vs Snapdragon 845: Graphics
- The new Adreno 640 GPU is 20% faster than Adreno 630 on Snapdragon 845.
- The Adreno 640 graphics supports true HDR gaming and games built around Physically Based Rendering (PBR).
Qualcomm quotes a modest improvement in graphics for Snapdragon 855, considering the transition to 7nm process node. Going by Qualcomm claims, users will be able to play high-end games with significantly lesser battery penalty.
Unlike Snapdragon 845, the new Snapdragon 855 also supports HDR10+ and Dolby Vision formats. There is also support for 120fps gaming and 8K-360 degree videos.
Snapdragon 855 vs Snapdragon 845: ISP and NPU
- Snapdragon 855 is the first Qualcomm chipset with a dedicated AI engine.
- A new Voice Assistant module will improve the processing of AI Assistants.
- Spectra 380 will enable new and interesting camera features like HDR in portrait mode or Portrait mode in 4K videos.
The Hexagon 690 DSP on Snapdragon 855 adds a new ‘Tensor Xccelerator’, which will act as a dedicated Machine Learning inferencing engine. The Tensor unit is capable of working independently to process AI loads and this makes SD 855 the first Qualcomm chipset with a dedicated NPU (or AI Engine, as Qualcomm puts it).
The new Spectra 380 ISP has been designed to be more power efficient with image processing. Qualcomm claims that 4K HDR capture will use 30% lesser power consumption compared to SD 845, Snapdragon 855 phones will also support features like 4K HDR with bokeh mode in videos. Snapdragon 855 also supports High Efficiency Image Files, or HEIF format.
Snapdragon 855 vs Snapdragon 845: Connectivity
- Snapdragon 855 supports 5G using external Snapdragon X50 modem. Snapdragon 855 phones without 5G connectivity will also be available.
- It’s also the world’s first Wi-Fi6 11ax-ready mobile solution.
As for connectivity, the Snapdragon 855 is a big leap forward. With supported networks, SD 855 phones will support up to 2Gbps download speeds (4G LTE), using the X24 LTE modem.
In combination with external Snapdragon X50, the Snapdragon 855 will support 5G connectivity (Both mmWaves and Sub 6GHz bands). The units without 5G connectivity should also be available to OEMs.
The chipset also supports Wi-Fi 6 standard (802.11ax) as well as the new 60GHz “Wi-Gig” 802.11ay (using external WiFi combo modules).
Snapdragon 855 VS Snapdragon 845: How big is the difference?
As you must have noticed by now, the Snapdragon 855 brings in several major improvements to Snapdragon 845 in almost all aspects. Most of the raw performance improvement over SD 845 may be attributed to the use of Cortex A76 cores and the switch to the more efficient 7nm process.
We’d still like to know how much more power efficient it turns out to be compared to the Snapdragon 845, and how well it stacks up against Samsung’s Exynos 9820 and Huawei’s Kirin 980. Apart from the hardware, Qualcomm’s software expertise at tuning performance will also lend Snapdragon 855 an advantage.
Phones With Snapdragon 855
Here are a few confirmed Snapdragon 855 phones that you might want to know about:
- Lenovo Z5 Pro GT
- OnePlus 5G
- Samsung Galaxy S10 (US variant)