Qualcomm shares Snapdragon 888 reference device benchmarks

The Snapdragon 888 reference device scored well, but don't expect a huge leap in performance

Whenever a new mobile chipset is announced, one of the big questions is about how well it performs. Such is the case with Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 888.

The company’s recently announced system-on-a-chip (SoC) promises better artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) performance, improved photography and more. Qualcomm also touted the new Kryo 680 as capable of a 25 percent uplift in overall CPU performance compared to the previous generation. On the GPU side, the new Adreno 660 can render graphics up to 35 percent faster than the previous generation.

In the past, Qualcomm worked to allow third-party reviewers to benchmark Snapdragon reference devices. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, the company instead shared benchmark results. Qualcomm says it ran several benchmarks on a Snapdragon 888 reference device three times each. It then took the average score from those three tests and shared them with publications. Every benchmark was run in its ‘default’ mode.

It’s worth noting that Qualcomm only used synthetic benchmarks. While benchmarks like this can be helpful, it’s important to remember that they’re often not indicative of real-world performance. Also, some of Qualcomm’s chosen benchmark software — such as AnTuTu — could be considered questionable. You can find all the scores (in bold) below.

Snapdragon 888 benchmark scores

  • AnTuTu 8.3.4 – 735439 (Higher is better)
  • Geekbench 5.0.2 (Single-Core) – 1135 (Higher is better)
  • Geekbench 5.0.2 (Multi-Core) – 3794 (Higher is better)
  • GFX Bench 5.0 (Aztec Ruins Vulkan, Normal Tier, 1080p, Offscreen IFH) – 86fps (Higher is better)
  • GFX Bench 5.0 (Manhattan 3.0, 1080p, Offscreen) – 169fps (Higher is better)
  • Ludashi AIMark 2.12 – 217223 (Higher is better)
  • AITuTu 1.3.0 – 911883 (Higher is better)
  • MLPerf (Unverified) Image Classification – 801.94
  • MLPerf (Unverified) Image Classification (Offline) – 918.53
  • MLPerf (Unverified) Object Detection – 368.38
  • MLPerf (Unverified) Image Segmentation – 127.52
  • MLPerf (Unverified) Language Processing – 8.96
  • Procyon 1.0.56 – 32288

Understanding the benchmark scores

Many of those benchmarks are for AI or ML and won’t mean much to the average person, although it’s worth noting that the Snapdragon 888 scores better than the 865 in these tests. Other benchmarks are a bit more valuable to the typical smartphone user.

Geekbench, for example, is the benchmark we typically use at MobileSyrup when testing out a new device. It’s also an easy one for anyone to test out — you can just download the Geekbench app and run the test to see how your phone stacks up.

At first, the Snapdragon 888 seems to perform pretty well compared to other Android devices. We ran a Geekbench test on an OnePlus 8T sporting a Snapdragon 865 chipset, which scored 881 single-core and 3794 multi-core. Interestingly, I also compared against benchmarks from MobileSyrup’s Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review. The Note 20 Ultra had an 865+, which scored 2,969 on the Geekbench multi-core test and 966 on single-core. Even though the Snapdragon 865+ is supposed to be better than the 865, the software on these phones could impact performance.

Regardless, the Snapdragon 888 reference device outperforms both in Geekbench. However, it’s worth noting that last year, the Snapdragon 865 reference device also outperformed both the OnePlus 8T and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra with a multi-core score of 3,463.

It’s also worth seeing how the latest iPhone stacks up to Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon. In MobileSyrup’s iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max review, the 12 Pro scored 4,232 in multi-core and 1,597 in single-core. Once again, Apple’s A-series chip — this time around the A14 Bionic — outperforms the top-of-the-line Snapdragon offering.

Likewise, looking at the GFX Bench results listed on its website, the iPhone 12 Pro performed better in the Aztec Ruins test with about 108fps compared to the Snapdragon 888 reference device’s 86fps. In the Manhattan test, the 12 Pro got about 210fps. This isn’t exactly an apples-to-apples comparison, pardon the pun. The iPhone runs on its own ‘Metal’ graphics API, whereas the Snapdragon 888 utilized the Vulkan API — depending on how developers utilize these APIs, optimization can help boost performance significantly.

As we mentioned up top, it’s important to remember that synthetic benchmarks often don’t translate to real-world performance. Additionally, manufacturers can significantly impact performance with the software they add to their devices — for example, the Note 20 Ultra. Despite what the Snapdragon 888 reference benchmarks show, most flagship Android phones that launch in 2021 with the chipset will likely perform well, and likely better than 2020’s Snapdragon 865 flagships. Just don’t expect a groundbreaking leap in performance this year.