Huawei earlier announces a new series named Kirin 990, a successor of last year’s Kirin 980. It comes in two variant Kirin 990 5G and Kirin 990 (4G) respectively. These are high-end chipsets, which directly compete with industry leader Qualcomm’s chipsets Snapdragon 855 and 855 Plus.
Indeed, Snapdragon 855+ overclocked version of Snapdragon 855. Therefore, we will be taking into consideration only plus variant to simplify the comparison. Same with Kirin chipsets. Both Kirin 990 5G and Kirin 990 share most of the specifications with each other. We are including here only 5G version with better specs. In this article, we will be making an in-depth comparison between Kirin 990 5G vs Kirin 980 vs Snapdragon 855 Plus. Without any further delay, let’s get started!
Kirin 990 5G vs Kirin 980 vs Snapdragon 855 / 855+ Specs Comparison
|Kirin 990 5G||Kirin 980||Snapdragon 855 / 855 Plus|
|Model Number||Kirin 990 5G||Kirin 980||SDM855|
|CPU||Tri-cluster octa-core (2 x Cortex-A76 cores @2.86GHz|
2x Cortex-A76 cores @2.36GHz
4x Cortex-A55 cores @1.95GHz)
|Tri-cluster octa-core (2x Cortex-A76 cores @ 2.6GHz|
2x Cortex-A76 cores @ 1.92GHz
4x Cortex-A55 cores @ 1.8GHz)
|Tri-cluster octa-core (1x Kryo 485 (A76) @2.84 GHz (SD855) or 2.96 GHz (SD855+)
3x Kryo 485 (A76) @2.42 GHz
4x Kryo 485 (A55) @1.78 GHz)
|Process||7nm+ EUV FinFET||7nm||7nm|
|GPU||Mali-G76MP16, 700MHz||Mali-G76MP10, 720MHz||- Adreno 640, 600MHz (SD855)
- Adreno 640, 700MHz (SD855+)
|API Support||OpenGL ES 3.2|
|OpenGL ES 3.2|
|OpenGL ES 3.2
|NPU||2 + 1 Da Vinci||Dual NPU||Qualcomm Hexagon 690|
|RAM||LPDDR4X (2133 MHz)||LPDDR4X (2133 MHz)||LPDDR4X (2133 MHz)|
|Storage||UFS 3.0 / eMMC 5.1||UFS 3.0 / eMMC 5.1||UFS 3.0 / eMMC 5.1|
|Display||3360x2160 pixels 4K UHD|
|3360x2160 pixels 4K UHD|
|3360x2160 pixels 4K UHD
|Dual 40 MP+ 20 MP|
|Dual 22MP + 22MP
Single 48MP, MFNR, ZSL or 192MP
Spectra 380 dual-core ISP
|Modem||Integrated Balong 5G Modem|
D/L Speed 2.3 Gbps
U/L Speed 1.25 Gbps
|External 5G Modem|
D/L Speed 1.4 Gbps
U/L Speed 300 Mbps
|Snapdragon X50 external 5G modem
D/L speed 2 Gbps
U/L speed 316 Mbps
|Video||Up to 8K Ultra HD|
H.265 (HEVC), H.264 (AVC), VP8, VP9)
|Up to 4K Ultra HD|
H.265 (HEVC), H.264 (AVC), VP8, VP9)
|4320p 8K @15fps, 2160p 4K @150fps, 1080p @60fps, 720p @480fps slo-mo|
|Charging||SuperCharge 3.0||SuperCharge 2.0||Quick Charge 4+|
|Others||Bluetooth 5.0, USB 3.1 support, 802.11a/b/g (dual-band 2.4GHz, 5.0 Ghz)||Bluetooth 5.0, USB 3.1 support, 802.11a/b/g (dual-band 2.4GHz, 5.0 Ghz)||Bluetooth 5.0, Dual 4G VoLTE, USB 3.1 support, 802.11a/b/g|
|GeekBench Scores||N/A||Single Core: 3325|
Multi Core: 9784
|- Single Core: 3,438
Multi Core: 10,838 (SD855)
- Single Core: 3,623
Multi Core: 11,365 (SD855+)
|Antutu Scores||N/A||3,13,567 points||- 3,70,976 points (SD855)
- 4,97,179 points (SD855+)
CPU and Storage
HiSilicon Kirin 990 5G packs tri-cluster octa-core CPU divided into 2x Cortex-A76 @2.86GHz, 2x Cortex-A76 cores @2.36GHz and remaining 4x Cortex-A55 cores clocks @1.95GHz. The Kirin 980 uses the same Cortex-A76 cores @2.6GHz, 2x Cortex-A76 @1.96GHz, and 4X cortex-A55 cores @1.8GHz.
On the other hands, Snapdragon came up with a different concept. The company customized the Cortex-A76 and Cortex-A55 cores for Snapdragon 855+ need and calls it Kryo 485. 1x Kryo 485 core clock speed is 2.96GHz based on Cortex-A76. Other three cores (A76) arrive with a clock speed of 2.42 GHz and remaining 4x Kryo 485 points @1.78 GHz. Basically, the cores are developed by the same manufacturer, Qualcomm only makes some tweaks for better performance including a new marketing name.
However, Kirin 990 uses the same cores as its predecessor used, but the clock speed has been improved significantly. Given that the Kirin 990 5G have two powerfull cores, it should also outperform the Snapdragon 855+ with a small margin. Moreover, the Kirin 5G chip uses the latest TSMS 7nm+ EUV fabrication, which is more power-efficient than the standard 7nm found on the other two. Overall, the new Kirin chip has better CPU performance compared to the other two.
As for storage, Kirin 990 and Snapdragon 855+ follow the current industry standards with UFS 2.1 / UFS 3.0 storage. The Kirin 980 only has UFS 2.1 storage support. These chipsets have LPDDR4X RAM support. The RAM speed is 2133 MHz in the trio. The RAM and storage speed plays a major role to make the device faster. Thankfully, new chipsets set the new industry standards, while, the Kirin 980 has been outdated.
The new Kirn chip arrives with 16 cores Mali-G76MP16 up to 700 MHz speed. If it compared to Mali-G76MP10 used on Kirin 980, it has 6 more cores to provide enhanced GPU performance. In addition, Snapdragon 855+ plus uses Adreno 640 graphics processor with 700MHz speed. Even though all three have a very powerful graphics card, optimizations play a big role.
Undoubtedly, Kirin 980 is in the last position being an outdated chip. But Snapdragon 855+ and Kirin 990 are very close competitors. Based on onboard specs, Kirin 990 to provide 15% improved bandwidth and 12% less power consumption. Further, the performance is expected to be 6% better when it compared to Snapdragon 855+. All three offers the necessary API support including OpenGL ES 3.2, Vulkan 1.1, OpenCL 2.0 and DirectX 12.
Camera and Display
Before making any comparison, it will worth to note, Kirin 990 camera and display complete specs are not yet updated. Therefore, we can just try to predict what it should be. Starting with the camera, the company should definitely provide up to 48MP camera support because the Kirin 810 is begging support for up to 48MP single or dual 48MP + 20MP camera. The company confirmes to use the latest Image Signal Processor 5.0 on Kirin 990 5g. Its camera is well capable of recording up to 4320p 8K video @30fps and 2160p 4K UHD video @60fps. The Kirin 980 Dual-ISP camera can only record 4K @30 fps.
Moving to the Snapdragon 855+, it supports up to a whopping 192MP camera after making few compromisations in the specs. It can also record up to 8K video @30fps and several other modes for slow-motion video capture. It has a dual-core Spectra 380 ISP. The pixels count is definitely more on the Snapdragon chipset, but new Kirin chip combines 2 + 1 Da Vinci to optimize the camera performance. The Snapdragon also supplies Hexagon 690 NPU for AI implementations.
There is no doubt Snapdragon 855+ has the advantage for extra pixel count. But camera optimizations play a major role in image processing rather then just comparing it bases on pixel count. It would be interesting to see how optimized new Kirin chipset is once we hand over new Mate 30 smartphones. Which would be most probably one of the early adopters of Kirin 990 5G chip. Needless to say, these camera specs are just for reference purpose. Furthermore, we can expect up to 2160 x 3840 pixels 4K UHD display support on all three chipsets with HDR content access.
Connectivity – Which one is best 5G chip?
The Kirin 990 5G is one of the early adopters on integrated Balon 5G modem. A few days ago, Samsung launched Exynos 980 using the same technology. But the new Kirin chip will be first to arrive in the market. Technically, Huawei’s 5G is the first one to be used on any smartphone. The Kirin 980 and Snapdragon 855+ also support the 5G by using external 5G modem. The Kirin 5G chip is specially optimized for the fast connectivity speeds.
In comparison, the Kirin 990 5G provides up to 2.3 Gbps download and 1.25 Gbps upload speed. Snapdragon 855+ with Snapdragon X55 modem offers up to 2Gbps download and 316Mbps upload speed. Finally, the Kirin 980 brings up to 1.4Gbps download and 300Mbps upload speed. The Kirin 990 uses advanced techniques to achieve higher interest speed. Even though the 5G is on its early stage, no chip is capable to utilize maximum potential Rest of the connectivity features of Kirin 990 are yet to be known, so no meaning to compare without the proper information. We will update the page once we get further information!
Antutu-GeekBench benchmark scores
In Geekbench test, Snapdragon 855+ 3,623 points for single-core and 11,365 points for multi-core. The Kirin 980 scores 3,325 points for single-core and 9,784 points for multi-core. Moving to Antutu, SD 855+ is able to score 4,97,179 points, while, the Kirin 980 scores 3,13,567 points in Antutu.
Kirin 990 5G is a relatively new chipset, so we can’t be able to obtain the benchmark scores. As soon as we get hands-on the benchmark scores, this page will get all the data listed here. Moreover, It will worth noting that these are average scores, so take it as a reference purpose.
Conclusion – which one is better?
As you might have noticed, only Kirin 990 and Snpadrsgon 955+ plus are competing with each other. Kirin 980 is still a powerful processor, but can’t match with other two. These two chipsets house the latest and advanced tech inside. Even though the Kirin 990 is focused on 5G, we can expect better performance in connectivity. Kirin 990 5G takes a measurable lead when it comes to performance, whereas, Snapdragon 855+ wins in the camera department.
Wrapping it up, onboard specs are better on Kirin 990 with enhanced power efficiency. Moreover, both companies are equally good to produce stable and optimal SoCs. But snapdragon has a wider reach, so chances are you get more options for the Snapdragon 855+ devices, while, the Kirin 990 is restricted to Huawei flagships.