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Huawei's new mid-range phones could have same GPU as Galaxy S20 (Update)

Update: HONOR has confirmed that the HONOR 30S, coming at the end of the month, will feature the Kirin 820 chipset.

Published onMarch 20, 2020

Kirin 990 with HUAWEI logo

Update, March 20 2020 (2:12AM ET): We first got word about the Kirin 820 and its apparent capabilities in a leak earlier this week, painting a picture of silicon designed for budget gamers. But when can we expect to see it though?

HONOR vice-president Xiong Junmin revealed on Weibo that the chipset would debut in the upcoming HONOR 30S (h/t: ITHome). The phone is scheduled for a March 30 launch, which means we won’t have too long to wait.

Confirmation that the HONOR 30s will offer the Kirin 820.

The HONOR executive also confirms that the phone and chipset pack 5G capabilities, which means it’s HUAWEI’s first mid-range 5G processor. So expect HUAWEI and HONOR to lean heavily on this silicon in 2020 as 5G phones come down in price.

ITHome adds that the HONOR 30s is expected to pack a quad rear camera, side-mounted fingerprint scanner, and 40W wired charging.

Original article, March 18 2020 (9:48AM ET): The HiSilicon Kirin 810 was arguably the best mid-range chipset HUAWEI’s company ever produced, delivering powerful Cortex-A76 CPU cores and beefy AI silicon on paper. We’re due for a successor any time now, and a new leak points to a major upgrade.

Frequent Weibo tipster Digital Chat Station reports that the Kirin 820 is in the works, adding that it will still offer those Cortex-A76 cores and a 7nm design. There’s no word on the CPU layout, but hopefully we see a tri-cluster or even 4+4 arrangement for better multi-core performance.

However, the source says that the new chipset will also offer a Mali-G77 GPU, which is a flagship-level piece of silicon. The G77 GPU is currently used in the Samsung Exynos 990 processor (seen in some Galaxy S20 variants), as well as in the MediaTek Dimensity 1000 high-end chipset.

A Kirin 820 leak via Digital Chat Station on Weibo.

If true, this would mean that the Kirin 820 sports a newer GPU than HUAWEI’s flagship Kirin 990 chipset. The Kirin 990 offers Mali-G76 MP16 graphics, which are a generation older than the Mali-G77.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the upcoming Kirin chipset will offer similar or better graphics performance than flagship processors though. It’s entirely possible that HUAWEI opts for fewer graphics cores, with the Mali-G77 available in as few as seven cores. Meanwhile, the Exynos 990’s Mali-G77 GPU offers 11 cores and the Dimensity 1000 sports nine cores. Nevertheless, we can certainly expect a major leap in GPU power compared to the mid-tier Mali-G52 in the Kirin 810.

HUAWEI Mate 30 Pro review: The forbidden fruit
HUAWEI Mate 30 Pro Rear camera housing

Digital Chat Station also reports that the Kirin 820 will offer a better image signal processor and NPU, although more details weren’t forthcoming. Hopefully the new ISP brings Kirin 990 features like advanced noise reduction and real-time video processing.

The Kirin 810 was the first chipset to sport AI silicon based on HUAWEI’s in-house Da Vinci architecture, later seen in the Kirin 990. In fact, a third-party AI benchmark put the mid-range chipset ahead of the Snapdragon 855 and 855 Plus, although AI benchmarks aren’t necessarily indicative of real-world performance. Still, it suggests that the Kirin 820 will offer even better on-device machine learning capabilities.

Even if we don’t see a major AI boost, the GPU upgrade suggests that HUAWEI’s new mid-range phones might be ideal for gaming on a budget. Now, about building out its mobile services and AppGallery.