Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 in hand front - Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 vs MediaTek Dimensity 1000

Qualcomm is the king of the hill when it comes to flagship processors, as virtually all major manufacturers (with the exception of Huawei) use its Snapdragon 800 series in their top-end phones.

After a lengthy absence in the space, however, MediaTek is once again playing in the flagship segment. So how does Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 processor compare to the MediaTek Dimensity 1000? Find out in this Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 vs MediaTek Dimensity 1000 specs comparison!

Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 vs MediaTek Dimensity 1000 specs

 Snapdragon 865Dimensity 1000
CPU Config1x 2.84GHz (Cortex A77)
3x 2.4GHz (Cortex A77)
4x 1.8GHz (Cortex-A55)
4x 2.6GHz (Cortex A77)
4x 2GHz (Cortex A55)
GPUAdreno 650Mali-G77 MP9
AIHexagon 698
Hexagon Tensor Accelerator
hexa-core APU
2x heavy cores
3x medium cores
1x light core
Process7nm7nm
Camera support200MP snapshot / 64MP single with Zero Shutter Lag
24MP dual camera
80MP single / 32 and 16MP dual
Video capture8K @ 30fps, 4K UHD @ 120fps, 720p @ 960fps4K UHD @ 60fps
ChargingQuick Charge 4+
Quick Charge AI
Pump Express
ModemX55 5G & RF system
7500 Mbps down
3000 Mbps up
mmWave
Sub-6Ghz
Helio M70 5G
4700 Mbps down
2500 Mbps up
Sub-6Ghz

CPU/GPU

Take a look at sheer horsepower and there’s no denying that both chipsets offer an impressive amount of grunt. Qualcomm serves up a three-tier CPU arrangement, featuring one semi-custom Cortex-A77 core clocked at 2.84Ghz, three semi-custom Cortex-A77 cores clocked at 2.4Ghz, and four tweaked Cortex-A55 cores running at 1.8Ghz.

MediaTek’s chipset opts for a more conventional approach, using four Cortex-A77 cores at 2.6Ghz and four Cortex-A55 cores at 2Ghz. It’s interesting that the company didn’t go after the heavy/medium/light CPU arrangement it pioneered in the first place.

If you assume everything else is equal, then it seems like Qualcomm might have the edge in single-core performance due to its top-end core hitting 2.84Ghz. But MediaTek could be very competitive in terms of multi-core performance owing to its four Cortex-A77 CPUs clocked at 2.6Ghz — higher than Qualcomm’s medium cores. Again, this is assuming that everything (i.e. cache, manufacturing process, and other factors) is equal between the two chipsets.

An apparent Snapdragon 865 Geekbench score reveals a single-core score of 4,303 points and a multi-core score of 13,344. Meanwhile, MediaTek previously claimed that its Dimensity 1000 chipset hits a multi-core score of 12,096 points (there’s no word on single-core performance). Either way, it looks like MediaTek is very close to, but not quite passing Qualcomm in the CPU department if both benchmarks are accurate.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 inside parts slides

Shifting to graphical performance, Qualcomm’s Adreno GPUs are generally considered the best smartphone GPUs in the industry. Arm’s Mali graphics have usually lagged behind Adreno silicon in this regard, although manufacturers have managed to narrow the gap somewhat by using more Mali graphics cores. The Snapdragon 865 GPU delivers a claimed 25% improvement over the Snapdragon 855, and therefore has an improvement of roughly 10% over the Snapdragon 855 Plus.

MediaTek’s Dimensity 1000 touts a new-generation Mali-G77 MP9 GPU, with two fewer cores than the Exynos 990‘s Mali-G77 MP11. In fact, back at the chip’s launch, MediaTek touted 15% and 11% better scores in GFXBench Manhattan 3.0 and 3.1 tests respectively versus the Snapdragon 855. This certainly suggests a high-end gaming platform, but that was against the Snapdragon 855 rather than the Snapdragon 855 Plus. So we’re expecting the Snapdragon 865 to close in on and likely pass MediaTek here.

Still, the fact that both Samsung and MediaTek are using fewer GPU cores in its new chipsets suggests Arm is making big strides.

Related: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 vs Kirin 990 vs Exynos 990

We’re also seeing GPU power being used to enable higher refresh rates, and both brands deliver. Qualcomm is the clear winner, supporting 60Hz at 4K, and up to 144Hz for QHD+ screens. MediaTek notes that it supports 90Hz at QHD+, and 120Hz at FHD+ resolutions.

Even if the two companies were on equal footing in terms of graphics, Qualcomm still has one big additional feather in its cap. The Snapdragon 865, 765 series, and future chipsets will allow users to update GPU drivers via the Play Store. Graphics drivers are usually packaged in system updates, so this should theoretically result in a faster way to get updated drivers.

MediaTek currently has no answer to Qualcomm offering GPU driver updates via the Play Store.

GPU driver updates can deliver bug fixes, as well as faster, more polished performance in games and other apps. But mobile phones have usually lagged far behind PCs when it comes to the frequency of updates.

We’ve asked MediaTek and Arm about the possibility of them implementing GPU driver updates via the Play Store in the future. Arm says it’s unable to comment on the plans of “specific SoC developers,” while MediaTek referred us to Arm.

AI

MediaTek Dimensity 5G chipset.

MediaTek was a relatively early mover in the AI silicon space, bringing an AI Processing Unit (APU) to its mid-range Helio P60 back in early 2018. The company has evolved the AI silicon since then, and its Dimensity 1000 chipset now has a six-core APU, featuring two heavy cores, three medium cores, and one light core.

The company says this multi-core AI silicon setup allows for a better power/energy consumption balance for a given task. So a Dimensity 1000-powered phone can fire up the light core for facial recognition and call on a heavy core for camera-related tasks.

Opinion: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 and 7c are bigger deals than you might think

The company touted 4.5 TOPS of computing power, presumably including the APU only. Meanwhile, Qualcomm says its Snapdragon 865 AI Engine delivers 15 TOPS of performance, but it’s unclear whether this applies to the dedicated AI silicon only or the entire chipset.

In any event, the third-party AI-Benchmark website lists the Dimensity 1000 at number one (56,158 points), ahead of the second-placed Kirin 990 5G (52,403) and the Snapdragon 855 Plus (24,652). We can obviously expect the new Qualcomm chipset to climb the ranks, but could it be number one? Either way, AI benchmarks are in a bit of a weird space right now, owing to the varying AI hardware designs and the sheer number of different workloads.

Connectivity

Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 in plastic case

Both the Dimensity 1000 and the Snapdragon 865 support 5G, but the two trade wins in the areas of network support and integration. The Snapdragon 865 supports both mmWave and sub-6Ghz flavors of 5G. Meanwhile, the Dimensity 1000 only supports sub-6Ghz.

Sub-6Ghz is expected to be the dominant type of 5G connectivity anyway, but MediaTek’s lack of mmWave support will be disappointing for subscribers in the likes of the US, parts of Europe, and Japan. It also means those hoping for a true world phone in the 5G era, capable of running on any network, might be out of luck with a Dimensity 1000 device for now.

MediaTek’s processor offers an integrated 5G modem as opposed to the Snapdragon 865’s external modem. Integrated solutions are usually more power efficient and occupy a smaller space than external solutions.

But Qualcomm posits that the Snapdragon 865’s modem is more power efficient at 4G than its previous X24 modem anyway. It also touts mmWave support, which shows that integrated versus external doesn’t necessarily have a bearing on capabilities. It’s similar to the PC graphics card sector in some ways, where external graphics cards are generally more capable but can consume much more power than integrated solutions.

In terms of speeds, MediaTek says it supports 4.7Gbps downlink and 2.5Gbps uplink speeds. Meanwhile, Qualcomm boasts faster speeds of 7.5Gbps downlink and 3Gbps uplink. The Dimensity 1000 also offers 5G+5G dual-SIM support, which might be handy for travelers or if your networks have patchy 5G coverage.

Camera

Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 200MP slides

There’s no disputing that the Snapdragon 865 is the more impressive beast in this category, touting support for up to 200MP cameras (snapshots without additional processing), 64MP single shooters, or 64MP/64MP dual sensors. Meanwhile, the MediaTek flagship processor serves up 80MP single camera support, 32MP/16MP dual sensors, and up to five cameras otherwise (we assume the Snapdragon 865 is similarly capable in terms of multiple cameras).

Turning to video recording, Qualcomm’s heavyweight SoC is the most impressive chipset we’ve ever seen in the Android smartphone space. The processor offers 8K/30fps support, 4K/120fps capabilities, and “unlimited” 960fps super slow-mo at 720p. The latter feature doesn’t require a specific camera sensor paired with ultra-fast memory, which is great news because almost all ultra high-resolution sensors (40MP+) don’t offer the required memory.

Read: Who actually has real 960fps super slow mo recording?

Other Snapdragon 865 features include Dolby Vision recording, multi-frame noise reduction, and the ability to simultaneously capture a 64MP image and 4K HDR video.

MediaTek, meanwhile, is topping out at 4K/60fps recording. This means it’s not quite as impressive as the Qualcomm silicon in terms of video, but puts it on par with last year’s flagship silicon and the new Kirin 990 from Huawei. Other capabilities include multi-frame video HDR (4K), video noise reduction, video bokeh, and support for Google’s AV1 codec (not seen on the Snapdragon chipset). There’s no word on the chipset’s support for super slow-motion video recording.

What else to know?

Both chips are pretty full featured in other areas, as they both support Bluetooth 5.1, Wi-Fi 6, and dual-frequency GPS capabilities.

Qualcomm’s chipset does hold an advantage in memory though, supporting LPDDR5 RAM compared to the slightly older LPDDR4X support seen on the Dimensity 1000. The Snapdragon 865 also supports UFS 3.0 storage, while MediaTek only says it supports “UFS,” suggesting that this is UFS 2.1 instead.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 vs MediaTek Dimensity 1000: The early verdict

The MediaTek Dimensity 1000 5G SoC.

It’s encouraging to see MediaTek back in the flagship chipset game after the disappointment that was its last higher end processor. More chipset choice is always a good thing, as it should bring out the best of all silicon players and potentially drive down costs.

In saying so, the spec sheet strongly suggests that Qualcomm’s chipset will find its way into more premium flagships than the Dimensity 1000. The likes of 8K recording and UFS 3.0 are all expected to be requirements for 2020’s ~$1,000 phones. Toss in Qualcomm’s traditionally powerful Adreno graphics as well as mmWave 5G support, and you’ve got a monster of a processor on paper.

More chipset choice is always a good thing.

That’s not to say that the Dimensity 1000 doesn’t earn its flagship status, delivering a very competitive CPU layout, the latest Arm graphics, dual-SIM 5G support, and powerful AI silicon by at least one benchmark. MediaTek refuses to be drawn into questions about cost, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the Dimensity 1000 is cheaper than the Snapdragon 865 too. So if anything, we could see the Dimensity 1000 find its niche in affordable flagships.


That’s it for our Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 vs MediaTek Dimensity 1000 comparison. Which has impressed you the most on paper? Let us know in the comments.

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