Exynos 9820 vs A12 Bionic v Kirin 980 v Snapdragon 845: the flagship SoC battle

With 2018 coming to an end, we have seen some pretty new chipset launches. While Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8150 is still due for its launch in December, other companies have already come out with their SoCs. Samsung recently launched the Exynos 9820 chipset, the successor to the Exynos 9810. Huawei also released the Kirin 980 chipset. In fact, it also powers the recently launched Huawei Mate 20 Pro. Lastly, there’s Apple with the A12 Bionic that powers the iPhone XS. With all the flagship chipsets out there, let’s see how they fare against one another.

Exynos 9820 vs A12 Bionic v Kirin 980 v Snapdragon 845: Quick Comparison

Note: It is worth pointing out that apart from the Snapdragon 845, all the chipsets are next-generation chipsets. That being said, we already have devices with the A12 Bionic and the Kirin 980 SoC. The Exynos 9820 is also expected to ship with the Exynos 9820 in February on the Galaxy S10.

  Samsung Exynos 9820 Apple A12 Bionic Huawei Kirin 980 Snapdragon 845
Architecture 8nm 7nm 7nm 10nm
CPU 2xCustom Core + 2xCortex A75 + 4xCortex A55 2×2.5GHz Vortex + 4×1.6GHz Tempest 2×2.6 GHz Cortex-A76 + 2×1.92 GHz Cortex-A76 + 4×1.8 GHz Cortex-A55 4×2.8GHz Kryo 385 + 4×1.7GHz Kryo 385
GPU Mali-G76 MP12 4-core Apple GPU Mali-G76 MP10 Adreno 630
Camera support (single lens) 22MP 12MP 40MP 32MP
Camera support (dual lens) 16MP+16MP 12MP+12MP 40MP+20MP 16MP+16MP
Connectivity LTE Cat.20 LTE Cat.16 LTE Cat.21 LTE Cat.18
NPU on-board Yes, Single Yes, Single Yes, Dual None
Smartphones Samsung Galaxy S10 (expected) Apple iPhone Xs/Xs Max/Xr Huawei Mate 20 Pro OnePlus 6T, Pixel 3, Poco F1, and more

Exynos 9820 vs A12 Bionic v Kirin 980 v Snapdragon 845: which one’s powerful?

As you can see in the spec sheet above, the Kirin 980 is mostly in the driver’s seat with the Exynos just behind. Apple’s A12 Bionic chipset, on the other hand, comes with slightly less powerful features. As for the Snapdragon 845, it’s crying out for a successor.

Exynos 9820 vs A12 Bionic v Kirin 980 v Snapdragon 845: Camera

The main idea of interests here are the cameras. While there is a close competition between Kirin and Exynos, it can be clarified on the basis of utility. Basically, for photography, the Kirin 980 is an all-equipped winner. As seen from the specs, it has the support for the maximum megapixels. Also evident from the Mate 20 Pro is how good the chipset is at handling triple lenses.

Support for 8K@30fps on the Samsung Exynos 9820

The Exynos 9820, on the other hand, is perfect for videography. Samsung claims the chipset supports encoding and decoding of 8K videos at 30fps. As for 4K UHD, it can do 4K@150fps, knocking out its competition out of the park.

Exynos 9820 vs A12 Bionic v Kirin 980 v Snapdragon 845: NPU

Another noteworthy point is NPU. With AI clearly being the future, manufacturers are embedding dedicated NPU chips onto the main SoC. Apart from the Snapdragon 845, all three SoCs come with dedicated chips.

Dual-NPU setup on the Huawei Kirin 980

However, the Kirin 980 takes the lead here as well. The Kirin 980 comes with not one, but a dual-NPU design that takes things to the next level.

Exynos 9820 vs A12 Bionic v Kirin 980 v Snapdragon 845: Connectivity

As for connectivity, surprisingly even the older Snapdragon 845 manages to outshine the A12 Bionic. Nonetheless, the Kirin 980 takes the lead here as well, coming equipped with the latest LTE Cat.21. The Exynos 9820 is just behind with the inclusion of the LTE Cat.20. For those of you who prefer the simpler language, it just translates to better uplink and downlink on the Kirin 980 and Exynos 9820 chipsets. That being said, the design of the smartphone also plays a crucial role in deciding the actual specs.

Exynos 9820 vs A12 Bionic v Kirin 980 v Snapdragon 845: Availability

The devices powered by the Apple A12 Bionic are already out there, with the iPhone Xs/Xs Max and the Xr. Same goes for the Kirin 980 with the Huawei Mate 20 series. As for the newly launched Exynos 9820, the chipset is expected to make its debut with the Samsung Galaxy S10 series in February.

Snapdragon 8150: what to expect?

As you can see, the Snapdragon 845 is clearly outdated with its competition. Even in 2018, the chipset doesn’t even have a dedicated NPU on-board. Also, it is based on the older 10nm architecture, which means less power efficiency. As such, Qualcomm really needs to up its game.

Qualcomm is expected to launch the Snapdragon 8150 SoC later this year in December. Going by the rumors and judging by the competition, the chipset should be quite powerful. It is touted to be based on the 7nm architecture and come with a similar 8-core CPU setup. It is also said to come with support for LTE Cat.20 or Cat.21. The biggest change would also be the inclusion of an NPU chipset on board. Lastly, there are said to improvements in the camera department.

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Varun Mirchandani

Varun is your go-to guy for everything related to technology. Someone with a keen interest in the Android world, he installs a new custom ROM every week and is always living on the bleeding edge of technology. When not writing for Mr. Phone, you can find him gaming on his beastly gaming rig which is also his prized possession.