Qualcomm's new flagship chipset, the Snapdragon 820, has now been released into the wild. As part of this, we are also seeing these devices being benchmarked and one popular benchmarking site, AnTuTu, have produced a top ten list of all tested chipsets both for CPU and GPU performance. The news at the top: Apple's impressive A9 chipset has been replaced by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820. Samsung's new Exynos 8890, as used in some variants of the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, is sitting third on the table. The HiSilicon Kirin 950 is fourth on the list, with the year old Samsung Exynos 7420 and Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 in fifth and sixth place respectively. Qualcomm's GPUs already have a reputation for performing well and in 2016, this tradition holds good: looking at the underlying GPU performance results, Qualcomm have managed a decisive victory with the Snapdragon 820. The Apple A9 and Samsung Exynos post similar scores although the Apple System-on-Chip is more powerful, followed by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 and Samsung Exynos 7420. The HiSilicon Kirin 950 is some way down the field and did not outpoint the 2014 Qualcomm Snapdragon 805's GPU, for example.
The data is based on the mean of a number of tests conducted. As the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 and Samsung Exynos 8890 are brand new chipsets, there will be relatively fewer tests conducted compared with the Apple A9. The Kirin 950 is also a relatively new device, too and is only available in a limited number of Huawei devices. Over time, we can expect these numbers to settle down, but it appears that HiSilicon's Kirin 950 is less graphically adept compared with the competition as befits the ARM Mali-T880 MP4 GPU embedded in the chipset. This is perhaps not so surprising as HiSilicon have deliberately shied away from QHD resolution displays claiming that the underlying technology is not powerful enough yet: the Samsung Exynos uses the ARM Mali-T880 MP12 chipset, which is much more powerful and the Snapdragon's Adreno 530 cleans up! And credit needs to go to the Apple A9, as it has only just been dropped from the number one place on the list but is a relatively old chipset.
We have also covered how the mid-range smartphones were something of a focus of the Mobile World Congress, pushed into the headlines because of structural changes around the world when it comes to buying smartphones. Customers will pay less if they were to buy a mid-range device compared with a flagship model and this in turn means that sales are expected to rise. To coincide with this, we are seeing Qualcomm's new mid-range chipsets performing strongly: the 2016 Snapdragon 650 and 652 are close to the 2015 Snapdragon 810 and 808 respectively in the overall score. Although the mid-range chipsets are less impressive from a GPU perspective, this reflects how mid-range devices will not be running with such high resolution displays compared with the flagship devices. And finally, a word of caution: the AnTuTu benchmark results are produced by a synthetic test and actual results can and do vary. A device can show a very high benchmark but disappoint in the hand, or conversely show a limited AnTuTu score yet perform well in actual use.