Top 5 flagship smartphone processors in 2021

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A couple of smartphone makers are now working on their own processors. The likes of Apple, Samsung, and Huawei have their Bionic, Exynos, and Kirin processors. However, a huge chunk of smartphone makers in the market still rely on dedicated chip makers like Qualcomm and MediaTek. Recently, AnTuTu released the top five flagship processors in 2021. The list shows that Snapdragon and Dimensity chips top the chart. The list contains Snapdragon 870, Dimensity 1200, Snapdragon 888+, Snapdragon 888, and Dimensity 1100.

This ranking from AnTuTu is not a surprise for smartphone enthusiasts. The Snapdragon 888 series is undoubtedly the most powerful Android chip this year. However, its poor performance in power consumption and heat output are aspects of concern for users. On the other hand, the 7nm Snapdragon 870 chip has left a deep impression on many users with its stable performance and balanced power consumption. The reputation of Snapdragon 888 Plus is also significantly better relative to Snapdragon 888. However, the Snapdragon 870 is clearly ahead of these other Snapdragon chips in terms of acceptance.

Furthermore, in the Top 5 flagship smartphone chip list, we have two Dimensity processors. Thanks to MediaTek’s technology accumulation in the 5G era and the excellent performance and craftsmanship of the Dimensity series. The Dimensity 1200 and 1100 make the top five flagship processor list for 2021.

Let us now take a look at the configurations of the top 5 flagship smartphone processors in 2021

1. Snapdragon 870

Back in January this year, Qualcomm officially announced the Snapdragon 870 after launching the SD888 in December. This processor occupies the top spot in the top 5 flagship smartphone processors list from AnTuTu. It is based on the 7nm node and has a 3.2GHz CPU. We can describe this processor as a “pseudo-flagship” processor and the prime core runs at 3.2GHz, up from 3.1GHz on the 865+. The Snapdragon 870 makes use of Kyro 585 cores, which are in fact, ARM Cortex-A77 cores with some tweaks from Qualcomm.

Snapdragon 870

Qualcomm bets on the Adreno 650 GPU to ensure high-end graphical performance. The Hexagon 698 and the Tensor Accelerator deliver the same 15 TOPs as its predecessor, Snapdragon 865. When it comes to the display driver, the chipset can run 1440p panels at up to 144Hz or 4K resolution at up to 60Hz. Just like other high-end offerings, the Snapdragon 870 supports HDR10+. The Spectra 480 ISP is the same inside old models, it offers support for sensors up to 200MP, 8K video capture at 30 fps, or 4K at 120 fps.

The chipset also comes with the same FastConnect 6800 as the vanilla 865. It ensures Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 with aptX Voice and Adaptive. Interestingly, it is down from the Snapdragon 865+ that comes with a FastConnect 6900, which offered Wi-Fi 6E. Just like other chips in Qualcomm’s high-end spectrum, the Snapdragon 870 does not come with an integrated 5G modem. Instead, the chipset is paired with the Snapdragon X55 with sub-6 and mmWave support.

2. Dimensity 1200

In January this year, MediaTek released two flagship 5G processors, Dimensity 1200 and Dimensity 1100. The Dimensity 1200 is a 6nm chip that comes with ARM’s A78 core with a frequency of 3.0GHz. It also comes with 3 large A78 cores with a frequency of 2.6GHz and 4 small A55 cores. Officially, the Dimensity 1200 performance has increased by 22% and energy efficiency increased by 25%. It is not a surprise that this processor is second in the top 5 flagship smartphone processors list from AnTuTu.

Dimensity 1200

The Dimensity 1200 integrates a new generation of 5G modem. Officially, this chip is the first SoC that supports 5G high-speed rail mode and 5G elevator mode. At the same time, the Dimensity 1200 adopts power-saving 5G UltraSave technology to ensure power consumption under the SA network. In addition, the chip has 5G global band bandwidth support.

In the camera department, the Dimensity 1200 has AI speed night shooting capability. It speeds up AI computing a lot. At the same time, the Dimensity 1200 brings a super panoramic AI night shot mode.

In terms of gaming, the Dimensity 1200 is optimized in four aspects: network, image quality, control, and intelligent load. The continuous network function of incoming calls is upgraded to 3.0. In terms of game image quality, the Dimensity 1200 adds ray-tracing technology to allow virtual objects to interact with real-life ambient light and have better reflection and refraction.

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3. Snapdragon 888 Plus

Qualcomm officially announced the 5nm Snapdragon 888 Plus processor in June 2020. This product is an improved version of the Snapdragon 888 chip. The latter contains one powerful Cortex-X1 core with a frequency of up to 2.84 GHz, three high-performance Cortex-A78 cores, and four energy-efficient Cortex-A55 cores. The processor includes the Adreno 660 graphics accelerator and the Snapdragon X60 5G modem with data transfer rates up to 7.5 Gbps.

The Snapdragon 888 Plus chip has a maximum clock speed of 3 GHz. For the graphics subsystem, the chip supports OpenCL 2.0 FP, Vulkan 1.1, DirectX 12, and OpenGL ES 3.2. The platform includes a Wi-Fi 6E wireless controller with the ability to use the 2.4, 5, and 6 GHz bands. In addition, it supports a Bluetooth 5.2 adapter. It is possible to use 4K displays with a refresh rate of 60 Hz and a QHD+ display with a refresh rate up to 144 Hz. The camera resolutions can be up to 200 megapixels.

4. Snapdragon 888

This flagship processor was released in December 2020. The Snapdragon 888 uses 1 x 2.84GHz (ARM’s latest Cortex X1 core) + 3 x 2.4GHz (Cortex A78) + 4 x 1.8GHz (Cortex A55) architecture. The GPU is Adreno 660 and it supports WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2. The Snapdragon 888 integrates Qualcomm’s third-generation 5G modem and radio frequency system – Snapdragon X60. It also supports all major global millimeter wave and sub-6GHz frequency bands, as well as 5G carrier aggregation. This chip also supports global multi-SIM card functions, Independent (SA) and non-independent (NSA) networking modes, and dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS).

The sixth-generation Qualcomm AI engine integrated on the Snapdragon 888 5G mobile platform includes a newly designed Qualcomm Hexagon processor, with a performance of 26 trillion operations per second (26 TOPS). In terms of games, it integrates the third-generation Snapdragon Elite Gaming. Also, Qualcomm claims that this chip brings the most significant performance improvement ever made by Qualcomm Adreno GPU. It also comes with a 2nd generation Qualcomm Sensing Hub which “incorporates low-power always-on AI processing for intuitive intelligent features.”

In terms of camera performance, the Spectra ISP of SD888 supports faster billion-pixel-level processing speeds. Users can process 2.7 billion pixels per second to take photos and videos. This is about 120 frames per second and each frame is 12MP. The processing speed is up to 35% higher than the previous generation platform.

5. Dimensity 1100

It is not a surprise that this processor makes the top 5 flagship smartphone processors list from AnTuTu. The Dimensity 1100 chip uses TSMC’s 6nm process technology. It has four A78 2.6GHz cores and four A55 2.0GHz cores. It integrates the ARM G77 MC9 GPU and supports dual-channel UFS 3.1.

The Dimensity 1100 includes a highly integrated 5G modem, using MediaTek UltraSave 5G technology, which has excellent energy-saving effects. In addition to supporting the latest connection functions, it also supports various generations of connection functions from 2G to 5G, including (SA) independent and dependent (NSA) 5G architecture, frequency division duplex (FDD) and time division duplex (TDD) 5G Carrier Aggregation (2CC), Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS), true dual-SIM 5G (5G SA+5G SA) and 5G HD Voice (VoNR). The chipset also integrates enhancements to 5G HSR mode and 5G Elevator mode to ensure reliable and seamless 5G connections across networks.

Dimensity 1100

The Dimensity 1100 also includes impressive camera functions. It supports a 108-megapixel camera and integrates MediaTek’s existing APU 3.0, enabling high-performance computing and super energy-saving. Also, our protagonist supports AI camera functions, including AI panoramic night shooting, AI multi-person blur, AI noise reduction (AINR), and HDR functions. The chipset also supports new AI-enhanced video playback functions, including SDR to HDR AI.

Apart from this, the Dimensity 1100 also supports a 144Hz refresh rate display to obtain ultra-clear, delay-free images. There is support for MediaTek HyperEngine 3.0 game technology. The latter includes 5G call and data concurrency, providing a more reliable connection. Plus, it brings a multi-touch response speed, improving the performance of the touchscreen. The new chipset also supports ‘ray tracing’ in mobile games and artificial reality applications to obtain more realistic images. At the same time, the super hotspot saves power, allowing users to have more time between charges.

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