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Snapdragon 855 and Snapdragon 855 Plus, which one to choose? | Droidcops

Back in July, Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 855 Plus a minor update to last year’s Snapdragon 855 flagship chipset. The 855 Plus is primarily targeted at mobile gamers and features CPU and GPU upgrades to enhance the gaming experience.

But otherwise, the two chips are identical when it comes to cameras, machine learning, and 4G LTE modem capabilities. Qualcomm is increasingly interested in updating its flagship SoC design in the middle of the year.

Previous generations such as Snapdragon 845 are also used as references and comparative research to make Snapdragon 850. However, this update is more targeted at entry-level laptop class performance than smartphones.

Snapdragon 855 vs 855 Plus Specifications

snapdragon 855 and 855 plus specifications

There is no overall specification change between these flagship Qualcomm chipsets. Only a few clock speed improvements are offered, suggesting that Qualcomm found a way to improve performance a bit by optimizing the Snapdragon 855’s design.

Specification Snapdragon 855 Snapdragon 855 Plus
CPU 1x Kryo 485 Gold (A76 based) @ 2.96GHz
3x Kryo 485 Gold (A76 based) @ 2.42GHz
4x Kryo 485 Silver (A55 based) @ 1.80GHz
1x Kryo 485 Gold (A76 based) @ 2.84GHz
3x Kryo 485 Gold (A76 based) @ 2.42GHz
4x Kryo 485 Silver (A55 based) @ 1.80GHz
GPU Adreno 640 @ 672MHz (approx.) Adreno 640 @ 585MHz
RAM 4x 16-bit channel @ 2133MHz
LPDDR4x
34.1GB/s
4x 16-bit channel @ 2133MHz
LPDDR4x
34.1GB/s
Modem Snapdragon
X24 LTE 2000Mbps, uploads 316Mbps
Snapdragon
X24 LTE 2000Mbps, uploads 316Mbps
Processor FinFET 7nm FinFET 7nm

By far the bigger change is the 15% increase in GPU rendering performance. Qualcomm hasn’t listed the new Adreno 640’s clock speed yet, but extrapolation from the Snapdragon 855’s 585MHz clock puts it in the 672MHz region.

Apart from speed issues, RAM capabilities, LTE modem, and Hexagon DSP are all unchanged between the two chipsets.

Snapdragon 855 Plus Benchmarks

snapdragon 855 plus

As part of the smartphone review process Droidcops carefully tested the most popular benchmarks around. There are currently many Snapdragon 855 Plus phones on the market, besides having tried the 855 plus version, the test team has also tested its performance against the previous Snapdragon 855 model.

Tests are based on multitasking performance to gaming and daily use. Droidcops sees a big impact on the battery to the performance and the resulting heat level. The data below is infographic data taken by Droidcops from the androidauthority.com site as reinforcement for more product test results.

CPU Benchmarks

The data above is not much different from some of the Snapdragon 855 and 855 plus phones that we reviewed, it’s just that the data above has more cellphones that have been reviewed. GeekBench 4 saw a roughly 4.5% increase in single-core performance between the two chipsets across Droidcops’s test handsets.

That’s basically Droidcops’s projection for the 855 Plus’ clock speed increase. Actually, the tests carried out are still at the stage of simple performance tests on paper.

At least from this the Droidcops can conclude that the Snapdragon 855 Plus has a multi-core performance increase even though it is slightly compared to the Snapdragon 855.

The performance advantage is around 0.5% on average for the Snapdragon 855 Plus. Most CPU clock speeds are essentially the same between the two models, so there’s not much to compare.

Overall, Qualcomm has made some minor improvements to the Snapdragon 855 Plus CPU performance. However, this change by no means makes a huge difference in day-to-day performance. So what about the promised 15% graphics rendering performance boost and Snapdragon Elite Gaming?

GPU benchmarks

On the GPU side, Droidcops sees a much bigger difference in performance between the Snapdragon 855 and Snapdragon 855 Plus. The 3DMark test for an overview of GPU performance shows a 13.5% increase in performance.

The data is pretty close considering Qualcomm’s estimated 15% performance increase and can certainly make a real difference to delivering the best frame rates in high-end games.

Turning to GFXBench which shows results that are not much different, Snapdragon 855 Plus is much better for games and high frame-rate displays. Most smartphone displays are still limited to 60Hz and the regular Snapdragon 855 already caps this popular benchmark at 60fps.

You won’t see much benefit from moving to the Snapdragon 855 Plus with a 60Hz phone, other than perhaps a more consistent frame rate lock at 60fps as well as a smoother frame rate display.

However, the 90Hz and 120Hz displays can make use of the extra power of the 855 Plus to get the most out of it. Perhaps, the 120Hz tier is still out of range for typical mobile games, but the Snapdragon 855 Plus is perfect for powering a 90Hz display.

Notice how the Nubia Red Magic 3 90Hz hit the 90fps limit on the T-Rex GFXBench, but dropped to 85fps in Manhattan. Still, it’s still an impressive result even though the data shows the 855 model just can’t be strong enough to lock in a solid 90fps in high-end games.

In comparison, the 120Hz Asus ROG Phone II clocked in at 120fps on the T-Rex and 98fps on Manhattan. If this chip supports Red Magic 3, then it is certain that the phone can hit its 90Hz display target more often.

snapdragon 855

The biggest advantage offered with the Snapdragon 855 Plus is in the gaming department, thanks to the latest Adreno 640 GPU. However, most standard Snapdragon 855 smartphones can already lock up to 60 frames per second on popular games and benchmarks.

The extra performance of the Snapdragon 855 Plus will certainly help keep the frame rate more stable and push the graphics settings to the limit. But unfortunately, until now most of the potential of the Snapdragon 855 Plus has been wasted just because of the use of a 60Hz smartphone screen.

With marginal CPU gains, the Snapdragon 855 Plus is a pure processor with gaming-focused upgrades. With that in mind, Droidcops would only recommend making a purchase decision based on the Snapdragon 855 Plus, even then if you’re looking at a phone with a 90Hz or 120Hz display.

The Asus ROG Phone 2 is a prime example of a smartphone currently able to maximize the benefits of this high-end chip. However, you should also play games that can reach higher refresh rates to feel more powerful.

Conclusion

The number of games on the market that are still limited to the standard 60fps, could be a major stumbling block for this processor. So again, you won’t always see a difference between the two Snapdragon 855 variants, unless game and smartphone developers start paying attention to their products to bring out the true power of the 855 Plus processor.

We’ll probably see more 90Hz smartphones and games hit the market later this year and well into 2020. For now, there’s no need to rush and buy a Snapdragon 855 Plus phone given the current limits on frame rates. Additionally, there will be the launch of the new high-end Snapdragon SoC in flagship devices early next year.

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