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Snapdragon vs Kirin vs MediaTek: Which SOC is the best?

What is a system-on-chip (SOC)?

A system-on-chip (SOC) is a single integrated circuit that contains all the essential components of a computer system, such as the central processing unit (CPU), the graphics processing unit (GPU), the memory, the storage, the modem, the camera, the display, and the sensors. A SOC is designed to optimize the performance and efficiency of a device, while reducing the size and power consumption.

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What are the differences between Snapdragon, Kirin, and MediaTek?

Snapdragon, Kirin, and MediaTek are three of the most widely used SOC brands in the smartphone market. They have different architectures, fabrication processes, and features that make them suitable for different types of devices and users. Here are some of the main differences between them:
Snapdragon is the brand name of the SOCs developed by Qualcomm, a US-based company that is one of the leading suppliers of wireless technology and semiconductors. Snapdragon SOCs are known for their high performance, advanced graphics, fast connectivity, and rich features. Snapdragon SOCs are used by many flagship and premium smartphones, such as Samsung Galaxy S series, OnePlus, Google Pixel, Sony Xperia, LG, and Xiaomi. Some of the latest Snapdragon SOCs are the Snapdragon 855, 845, 835, and 730.
Kirin is the brand name of the SOCs developed by HiSilicon, a Chinese company that is a subsidiary of Huawei, one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world. Kirin SOCs are designed to optimize the performance and battery life of Huawei’s devices, as well as to support Huawei’s own features and services, such as the Leica camera, the SuperCharge technology, and the EMUI software. Kirin SOCs are used exclusively by Huawei and its sub-brand Honor. Some of the latest Kirin SOCs are the Kirin 980, 970, 960, and 710.
MediaTek is the brand name of the SOCs developed by MediaTek, a Taiwanese company that is one of the largest SOC suppliers in the world. MediaTek SOCs are focused on providing a balance between price and performance, as well as offering some premium technologies, such as the MiraVision display enhancement, the SmartScreen gesture control, and the WorldMode 4G LTE connectivity. MediaTek SOCs are used by many mid-range and budget smartphones, especially from Chinese and Indian brands, such as Oppo, Vivo, Realme, Redmi, Lenovo, and Micromax. Some of the latest MediaTek SOCs are the Helio P90, P70, P60, and X30.

How to compare the performance of Snapdragon, Kirin, and MediaTek?

One of the most common ways to compare the performance of different SOCs is to look at their specifications, such as the number of cores, the clock speed, the fabrication process, and the GPU. However, these numbers do not tell the whole story, as there are many other factors that affect the real-world performance, such as the software optimization, the thermal management, the battery capacity, and the user behavior. Therefore, it is better to rely on some objective benchmarks and tests, such as the AnTuTu, Geekbench, GFXBench, and PCMark, that measure the CPU, GPU, memory, and overall performance of the devices.
According to the latest AnTuTu benchmark rankings (as of March 2024), the top 10 SOCs are:
1. Snapdragon 855 (371,610 points)
2. Kirin 980 (309,628 points)
3. Snapdragon 845 (290,832 points)
4. Snapdragon 835 (210,052 points)
5. Kirin 970 (209,016 points)
6. Helio P90 (184,926 points)
7. Snapdragon 730 (174,029 points)
8. Helio X30 (173,522 points)
9. Kirin 960 (172,644 points)
10. Helio P70 (146,105 points)
As you can see, the Snapdragon 855 is the clear winner, followed by the Kirin 980 and the Snapdragon 845. The Snapdragon 835 and the Kirin 970 are still competitive, while the MediaTek SOCs are lagging behind, except for the Helio P90, which is the best among the mid-range SOCs.
However, these scores are not the only criteria to judge the performance of a SOC. For example, the Kirin 980 has a better AI performance than the Snapdragon 855, thanks to its dual neural processing units (NPUs) that can handle complex tasks such as image recognition, natural language processing, and face unlock. The Helio P90 also has a dedicated AI processing unit (APU) that can support up to 48MP cameras, 3D face detection, and AR/VR applications. The Snapdragon 855, on the other hand, has a better GPU performance than the Kirin 980, thanks to its Adreno 640 GPU that can handle intensive gaming and graphics rendering. The Snapdragon 855 also has a better connectivity performance than the Kirin 980, thanks to its X24 LTE modem that can support up to 2Gbps download speeds and its X50 5G modem that can support the next-generation network.

How to choose the best SOC for your needs?

The best SOC for your needs depends on your preferences, budget, and usage scenarios. Here are some general guidelines to help you choose the best SOC for your needs:
– If you want the best performance, graphics, and connectivity, and you don’t mind paying a premium price, then you should go for the Snapdragon 855, which is the most powerful and advanced SOC in the market. You can find the Snapdragon 855 in devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S10, the OnePlus 7, the Google Pixel 4, the Sony Xperia 1, and the LG G8 ThinQ.
– If you want a balanced performance, battery life, and features, and you are a fan of Huawei’s devices and services, then you should go for the Kirin 980, which is the second-best SOC in the market. You can find the Kirin 980 in devices such as the Huawei Mate 20, the Huawei P30, the Honor View 20, and the Honor Magic 2.
– If you want a decent performance, graphics, and features, and you are looking for a mid-range or budget device, then you should go for the MediaTek SOCs, which are the best value for money. You can find the MediaTek SOCs in devices such as the Oppo F11 Pro, the Vivo V15 Pro, the Realme 3 Pro, the Redmi Note 7 Pro, and the Lenovo Z5 Pro GT.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Snapdragon, Kirin, and MediaTek are three of the most popular SOC brands in the smartphone market, and they have different strengths and weaknesses. Snapdragon SOCs are the best for performance, graphics, and connectivity, but they are also the most expensive. Kirin SOCs are the best for battery life and AI, but they are only available in Huawei’s devices. MediaTek SOCs are the best for price and features, but they are not as powerful or advanced as the other two. The best SOC for your needs depends on your preferences, budget, and usage scenarios. We hope this article has helped you understand the differences between Snapdragon, Kirin, and MediaTek, and choose the best SOC for your needs.
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