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Snapdragon 820 vs 810 vs 808: Qualcomm's 2016 chip benchmarked

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Snapdragon 820

Update: We’re expecting Google to announce its new Pixel and Pixel XL phones this evening, and both are set to be the mass-market debut of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821.

Don’t call it a sequel: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821 is a slightly more powerful version of its 820 chip, with a minor bump in clock speeds across the board to give it roughly 10% more processing performance. The 820 will continue to be manufactured, with Qualcomm making very clear that this new specification is

Since it’s the same chip with the same architecture, the boost in clock speed will increase power consumption, so only manufacturers making phones with high-capacity batteries will want to put these in their phones.

The maximum clock speed of the two high-power processing cores have been increased from 2.2GHz up to 2.4GHz. The two lower-power cores have received a bigger boost, going from 1.6GHz to 2GHz. However, manufacturers have final say over how high clock speeds go so we may not see every Snapdragon 821 phone getting full power out the chip.

The Adreno 530 graphics chip has also received a slight performance increase, going from 624MHz up to 650MHz and possibly beyond, depending on the desires of individual phone manufacturers.

Our original article comparing the Snapdragon 820 and its predecessors is below.

Snapdragon 820 vs 810 vs 808

Qualcomm didn't have a great time of it last year with the Snapdragon 810. Yes, the chip powered a number of top handsets, and benchmarked well. However, it was hampered by reports of overheating and performance throttling – something we saw first-hand with the likes of the HTC One M9.

Samsung and LG turned to other chips for their early-2015 flagships. The Samsung Galaxy S6 ran on the company's own Exynos chip, while the LG G4 took a slight step down to the less demanding Snapdragon 808.

Qualcomm seems determined to rectify those mistakes with 2016's Snapdragon 820. The chip powers the new LG G5, the HTC 10, and even the Samsung Galaxy S7 in certain regions.

Naturally, it's the fastest Snapdragon yet. But how much better is it than the Snapdragon 810? Let's take a closer look.

Related: Best Android Smartphones 2016

Qualcomm Snapdragon 820

What’s new on the Snapdragon 820?

The new 14nm Snapdragon 820 has a completely different architecture to its predecessor, the 810. It’s comprised of the X12 LTE modem, Kryo CPU, Adreno 530 GPU, Hexagon DSP, and Spectra ISP.

The 64-bit Kryta CPU is one of the bigger changes and will reportedly offer twice the performance of the 810.

The CPU has a maximum 2.2GHz clock speed and is quad-core, not octa-core. Qualcomm claims the reduced number of cores won’t adversely affect performance, as Android, and the majority of its apps, still aren’t optimised, nor demanding enough to need octa-core muscle.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 820

Specifically, the spokesman at hand argued, “The most important thing to have is peak single-threaded performance, as most of the time only one or two cores are active." He added, “When most phones are playing games, web browsing, or just word processing, usually only 1.5 cores are active at any one time”.

The Adreno 530 GPU is, on paper, similarly impressive and according to Qualcomm will offer “40 per cent better performance than the 810." As an added element of futureproofing, it’ll also include support for the recently unveiled Vulkan API as well as the more common OpenGL 3.1 used on most current Android games.

For those not in the know, Vulkan was previously known as the “Next Generation OpenGL Initiative” and is designed to make it easier for developers to make great-looking games. It already has massive support from big names in the games industry, including Valve.

Finally, the 820's X12 LTE modem will further boost performance by adding support for Cat.12 LTE speeds.

If UK networks get on board, this means a smartphone using the Snapdragon 820 could theoretically see speeds of up to 600Mbps downlink, and 150Mbps uplink. This is a massive improvement on the 810's X10 LTE modem, which offered lower theoretical maximum download and upload speeds of 450Mbps and 50Mbps respectively.

The X12 is also the first modem in the world to support LTE on unlicensed spectrum bands, further future-proofing the chip.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 vs 810 vs 808 – Benchmarks

We initially tested the Snapdragon 820 on an early custom reference Android Marshmallow phablet that was designed to reflect the internal specifications of a 2016 flagship phone. Specifically the phone ran using a Qualcomm 820 chip and 3GB of DDR4 RAM, and came loaded with a sizeable 6.2-inch QHD display.

Running the 820 reference device through our standard suite of benchmarks, the handset proved blisteringly fast and outpaced both the Nexus 6P (Snapdragon 810) and Nexus 5X (Snapdragon 808) we had to hand.

You can see a full breakdown of how the three compared in the graphs below.

We've since added some real-world Snapdragon 820 results, now that we've had a chance to test the final retail models of the LG G5 and HTC 10. The results of those tests have been posted following the initial benchmark comparisons.

Snapdragon 820 Antutu score – 820 is 54% faster than 810

Snapdragon 820AnTuTu: Snapdragon 820 (130,225), Nexus 6P (84,465), Nexus 5X (54,296)

Antutu is one of the most common Android benchmarking tools and is designed to offer a general view of phones' and tablets' performance. The 6.0 version only recently launched and is listed by Qualcomm as one of the best available. As with many benchmarks, we can't rule out some optimisation to achieve higher scores, but on this evidence Qualcomm's 820 reference phone is 54% faster than the Nexus 6P in this test.

Snapdragon 820 3DMark Slingshot score – 820 is 34% faster than the 810

Snapdragon 8203DMark: Snapdragon 820 (2,197), Nexus 6P (1,624), Nexus 5X (1,048)

3DMark is a GPU focused benchmarking suite designed to test phones and PC graphics performance. It's not included on Qualcomm's list of "good" benchmarks, but is fairly well-respected in PC and laptop gaming communities and provides a useful cross-platform reference point. Here the increase is less pronounced but still significant, with the 820 phone outscoring the Nexus 6P's 810 processor by 35%.

Snapdragon 820 Geekbench 3 multi-core score – 26% increase

Snapdragon 820Geekbench: Snapdragon 820 (5,479), Nexus 6P (4,345), Nexus 5X (1,048)

Geekbench 3 is another general benchmarking tool that works on smartphones, tablets and PCs. It's also, historically, one of the more abused benchmarks out there. Like 3DMark, it provides a useful reference of theoretical performance. It isn't the most 'real-world' relevant test out there, but it is one of the most popular and focuses mainly on the CPU. Here, the 820 is 26% faster.

Snapdragon 820 GFXBench scores – 40% improvement in OpenGL test

Snapdragon 820GFXBench (Frames): Snapdragon 820 (556.9), Nexus 6P (397.8), Nexus 5X (400.9)

Snapdragon 820GFXBench (FPS): Snapdragon 820 (9.4), Nexus 6P (6.7), Nexus 5X (6.8)

OpenGFX is a cross-platform benchmarking tool that measures devices' graphical performance and render quality. It tests a GPU's long-term performance by logging how many frames-per-second (FPS) it can handle while running sustained game-like animations for 62 seconds. The 820 performed 40% better than the 810 on the benchmark's demanding "Cars" animation test.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 vs 810 vs 808 – Real World Tests

Since we first wrote this piece, the LG G5 and the HTC 10 have hit the market. Both run on the Snapdragon 820, and so we've put both phones through their paces to see if our initial in-depth tests were accurate.

It's worth pointing out that both phones utilise 4GB of RAM, which is more than our initial reference device. Both also have QHD displays, though the LG G5's is 5.3-inches and the HTC 10's is slightly smaller at 5.2-inches.

That being taken into account, the results were reassuringly similar to our reference Snapdragon 820 device.

The LG G5 scored 5,241 in the Geekbench 3 multi-core test (compared to 5,479 on the reference device), and 126,842 in AnTuTu (compared to 130,225 on the reference device). As for the HTC 10, on the Geekbench 3 multi-core test it scored slightly lower than the LG at 5,065, but slightly higher in AnTuTu at 130,178.

G5

Snapdragon 820 – Battery life improvements

Sadly, we didn't get to check Qualcomm's bold claims about the 820's power efficiency improvements during the initial test session.

According to the Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 820 uses 30% less power than the Snapdragon 810 overall. That’s thanks to efficiency improvements with the system-on-a-chip's various components, like the Kryo CPU and Adreno GPU.

It’s also thanks to the new manufacturing process used to create the Snapdragon 820. As mentioned, the new chip is built using Samsung’s highly efficient 14nm FinFET process, compared to the comparatively lacklustre 20nm process used for the Snapdragon 810.

In real-world usage, neither the HTC 10 with its 3,000 mAh battery nor the LG G5 with its 2,800 mAh unit showed signs of spectacular gains in battery life. However, they both last solidly through a day of sustained usage, and we didn't have any nasty surprises when using certain apps or games.

HTC 10

With both handsets we managed about three hours screen-on time per day, which is pretty normal. An hour Spotify streaming used up around 5 per cent for both, and watching an hour-long HD TV episode on either Netflix or BBC iPlayer with auto-brightness enabled chewed through 8-10 per cent in both instances.

Stand-by time was very good, with both phones losing just 3 percent overnight – though we have to remember that the latest version of Android has its Doze feature for just such occasions.

Our conclusion: the Snapdragon 820 is indeed more efficient than the Snapdragon 810 before it, but not to a transformative degree. Phone batteries are still around the same size, and you'll still need to charge them every night.

Related: Octa-core vs quad-core: Does it make a difference?

Snapdragon 820

Verdict

After extensive tests of the Snapdragon 820, both in an early test device and final hardware, we're happy to report that it represents a return to form for Qualcomm.

We had high hopes based on the optimised reference device we used earlier in the year, where the 820 ran great. The early benchmarks showed the the new chip to be a powerhouse that offers superior general and gaming performance to the 810. The upgraded GPU’s support for the Vulkan API also makes the Snapdragon 820 feel fairly futureproof.

These early impressions have been vindicated by the uniformly excellent performance of the HTC 10 and LG G5, both of which handled everything we could throw at them with ease. The power of the Snapdragon 820 should be enough to ensure fluid performance for several years, unless Google pulls something exotic out of the bag in the next few Android updates.

RG

December 3, 2015, 12:59 pm

The 420 was built on 28nm

RicardoGonzalez1

December 18, 2015, 1:02 pm

A few questions Really, we need much power as a phone? We will be much more productive? or just the feeling will driving a sports car in school zone?

gnaLor

December 18, 2015, 11:18 pm

As long as phones don't run 100% smooth without any waiting times, I don't see why CPU's shouldn't get better, even though that is of course not only dependant on the CPU.
Also, new cpu generation usually don't just offer more power (thats easy), but more power/watt, which is important to make the overall device more power efficient.

Tom

February 22, 2016, 10:38 am

Screens become larger, resolutions go up. You need serious power to drive those QHD or even 4k displays. And yeah as gnaLor said power efficiency also increases which is very good for lower end devices that use the same manufacturing process. Cameras depend also on the processing of the cpu as well as on the lens. As long as people are willing to spend large sums of money for the newest release, all of us will profit in a way or another. I could go on and on how faster cpu's will benefit us but yh... Just to give you a better picture of what I'm talking about some developer said that mobile devices will catch up to ps4 and xbox one in terms of gaming performance by the end of 2017.

Ryan

February 24, 2016, 4:00 am

Well, the simple answer is they're not really phones, they're computers capable of making calls

primussuxxx

February 24, 2016, 7:44 pm

Instead of posting nonsense, just go get yourself a flip phone and cal it a day.

RogerSC

March 11, 2016, 1:03 am

Real mature, Mr. Prim. If you're not going to address his question, don't bother to post. Personally, I agree that there's a balance between what we need in a phone and the race to put out the highest res, fastest phone on the block. One of the problems with that is that battery size often isn't scaled up with the demands on it. So part of the price to be paid for a higher res screen and a hotter CPU may be that you can 't get through a day without recharging. This is a usability issue.

Robert Gruber

March 17, 2016, 7:19 pm

Phones equal to consoles by the end of 2017? Honestly that's laughable. Maybe for simple games such as Injustice but for games like Fallout, Destiny, Call of Duty, etc... there isn't a chance phones catch up in the next year and a half. If only for developers, game developers aren't even utilizing the full capabilities of the consoles as it is. The only way that happens is if the developers for cell phone games step up their specs exponentially as well as the technology makes exponential jumps at a far greater rate than it has been going for the last few years. Without a massive breakthrough you aren't going to get a cell phone with normal ram and cpu along with 8 gb of ram for a dedicated gpu paired with a TB of storage, there just isn't physical room, or cooling capabilities, or durability. Whatever developer said that is either a clairvoyant or lying, I'm leaning towards the latter.

Tom

March 19, 2016, 9:40 pm

Just saying, whoever said that is pretty confident. What i mean, is that probably it won't be true but you can't deny that advancements are good, and it's a market that is very focused on.

Novak

April 9, 2016, 10:36 pm

I know it's been 4 months but let me answer your question. As a phone NO, making phonecalls and sending/resiving messages doesn't requier much, BUT we want lossless music, 4k video cameras, 20MPx stills and so on, and so on. As for your part of the question about productivity I as a windows phone user (fanboy to a point) am waiting for continuum to mature so I can use my phone as my main PC, it wont be anytime soon, but in the future why not. If it can run programs I need and play music/videos(can already do), browes the web (that as well) why not get rid of the dust collecting box that sits next to my desk.

Russ Palk

May 10, 2016, 3:47 pm

I have the LG G5. I still get cpu lag like on the G3 lol. I play Family guy and the Simpsons tapped out and both dont run smoothly

Ville Laitinen

May 29, 2016, 8:21 pm

IMHO, resolution war is killing the gains... Five inches and 2160P-rsolution screen! Why??? I cannot see the pixels in FHD so it's not only useless but stupid because it eats up all the power. Besides, PS4 and Xbox1 don't have enough power for FHD (At least in Fallout 4/Just Cause 3 @PS4 with current programming.) so it is not much they're even aiming for;-) And yes, enough power for browsing etc BUT my World of Tanks Blitz and X-Com need more power than is available in my budget phablet.

Adam Zimny

June 14, 2016, 4:26 am

buy galaxy s7 or lg g5 - make your wallets empty! Really... LeTV le max 2 have same cpu and gpu, 4gb ram, 2k screen, type-c usb, and metal back... and costs 302$ for today on aliexpress.com

Lucky Wang

June 28, 2016, 5:45 pm

Except that as you can see from the article, you can get more performance and greater efficiency with a new chip. I have a galaxy S7 edge and it is easily the best phone I've ever used.

As to Ricardo's question, primus was right. The fact is that these phones are multi-media devices that do everything from playback high resolution content to web browsing to playing video games to recording 4k video to heavy multi-tasking and on and on. Personally, there are many times when I reach for you cell phone instead of a computer. So yes, for users like me we absolutely need more power. I'm not even talking about cutting edge applications like VR.

Lucky Wang

June 28, 2016, 5:46 pm

Because you have that screen only a few inches from your face.

Josh Mac

July 9, 2016, 10:44 pm

i think ill stick with my oneplus3

Perfidious Albion

July 11, 2016, 2:03 pm

I want bigger (longer-lasting) REPLACEABLE batteries & a lower temperature in my phones (they get damn hot in summer).

Ry

August 11, 2016, 9:45 pm

There's no way a phone will match a PS4 or XB1 by the end 2017, however they're already more powerful than the PS3 and X360.

Nigel.W

September 13, 2016, 1:05 am

Even if they are (which I don't think so) the battery suffers hugely if such performance is used. They still aren't on par with the PS VITA yet - can phones play taxing games like Killzone Mercenary for 6 hours straight? No.

shaji mathew

October 30, 2016, 5:29 am

Snapdragon Qualcomm chipset`s are crap with thermal, loose components easily brickable to unbrick or write they use Jtag which are highly charged , they extract royalty from such box tag companies, costly and crap chips no durability all lg & samsung phones with Qualcomm chips have big problems bootloops and thermal failure.
The future of mobile processing is Mediatek`s helion X processors its easy, fast, & more durable than Qualcomm. Don`t waste your hard earned money on cheap Qualcomm chips.

marorun1982

November 8, 2016, 8:19 pm

Stop smoking crack been using lg g5 since its out.
not heat issue.
great performance.
great battery life for its size.
charge up in an heart beat.

Your mediatek crap lag like a bitch in world of tank blitz its have the worst gpu on the planet.

Sorry mr hater.

marorun1982

November 8, 2016, 8:21 pm

Those games are crap and badly made.

i play much more demanding games like World of tank blitz on my lg g5.
there is a setting to change graphic and its all maxed out.

no lag EVER in thats game and many other i play.
i dont play those crap software made to make you spend load of money like simpsons ect those are full of crap games.

Samsung S7 lag in world of tank after 15 min of gaming.
helios based soc lag all the time unless you lower graphic to a minimum.

dont play crap game made to make you waste money and you wont have lag.
dont forget those game need 100% of the time a network connection and when they pull data from those server your game will lag EVERY single time.

shaji mathew

November 9, 2016, 6:12 am

Smoke some weed dude. Your comparing g5 with old gen mediatek
chips. Iam talking abt mediatek (helio series) chips the future.Not yet used in new phones. Then where in the hell did you test it.
See some Youtube videos Mediatek outperforming Snapdragon in each and every phase of the tests. 100$ chip outperforming 400$ chips. Such a same.
You talk abt LG ur G5 not even 12months old.
There`s not even a single LG phone which survived till 14 month it will die before that for sure.
People like You encourage such companies believe they can create crap chip-sets and fool customers.
So better go have some weeeed.

shaji mathew

November 9, 2016, 6:19 am

What r u talking abt SOC lag or network lag? All LG chips have same problem from G2 to V20 crap snapdragon chips.
Your G5 will die a sudden death bootloop or board thermal failure.
Then u realise which 1s crap.

Goga Montana

November 16, 2016, 4:33 am

Actually LG G5 is crappy phone. It is heavy and ugly and it DOES have overheating issues, like all Qualcomm's do. I had many new Snapdragons, and they all are tend to overheat in some situations, espeacially when displaying flash video or charging.
We have to admit - phones are NOT computers, albeit we want them to be. They are not for serious gaming, not yet. They are just phones with solid cameras and we're also using them as auxiliary readers. So stop expecting miracles and talking about speed of your mobile processors - it will be outdated and outgunned in six months, every freakin' year. For five more years minimum.

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