Difference Between Apple A9 and Qualcomm Snapdragon 820

Main Difference – Apple A9 vs Qualcomm Snapdragon 820

The main difference between Apple A9 and Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC is that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC has new features like ultrasonic fingerprint scanner which provide improved accuracy and faster upload and download speed. The single processor performance is better with the Apple A9 whereas multi-processor performance is headed by the Snapdragon 820 SoC.

Apple processors are powering the iPads and the iPhones while Qualcomm processors are powering a majority of Android devices in the mobile market. The Apple’s new A9 chip came with the release of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. The Snapdragon 820 SoC aims at catching up with the A9 as the next generation chip, hoping to power the Android phones that are to be released in 2016. The Snapdragon 820 processor is expected to be out in the early part of 2016. Let us take a closer look at both the SoC’s and what they have to offer.

Apple A9 Processor Review – Features and Specifications

The Apple A9 processor is the latest System on Chip to be released by Apple. This is the chip that is powering the latest flagship devices of Apple, which is the Apple iPhone 6s. Although the smartphone is available in the market, Apple failed to reveal much of the hardware specifications that come with the device. One of them being specifications that come with the new A9 processor.  

The iPhone 6s is powered by the new Apple A9 system on chip. This is an important part of the device as the entire performance of the device not only relies on the software and user interface but also on the hardware combined. Both these factors will define the performance and efficiency of the system as a whole. So with our microscopes let us take a closer look at the Apple A9 and what is inside the chip itself.


The Apple A9 has dimensions of 8.7 mm × 10.7 mm and has been labeled as APL0898. The area of the chip stands at 94 mm2 which is small. The chip has seen significant changes in its layout when compared with the previous A8 chipset. The components inside the A9 have seen a rearrangement and the size of the new Apple A9 is 80% the size of the A8. This is mainly due to the 14nm FinFET that has been employed in designing the chipset.


The Apple A9 comes with dual cores, just like the A8. Apple uses cores that are larger than that which come in android chips. These are known as super cores and use logic that is complex. The Apple cores provide better single core performance when compared with the Android counterparts. The Apple A9 cores are comparably very fast when compared to the cores found in the A8. Multi-core processing is almost equal in power when compared to flagship devices of Android. This is due to the fact that Android devices now have the luxury of being powered by eight cores whereas as Apple only has two.

Graphical Processing unit

Apple has also upgraded the GPU of the Apple A9. The previous PowerVR GX6450 GPU on the A8 had only four clusters, whereas the A9 this time comes with 6 clusters.

Cache Memory

The cache memory on the chip has also seen an increase to 8MB from 4MB on the L3 cache when comparing it with the A8. The L2 cache of the A9 is 3MB.

Main Difference - Apple A9 vs Qualcomm Snapdragon 820

Snapdragon 820 Review – Features and Specifications

The Snapdragon 820 was recently released at New York City event recently. The Snapdragon 808 and the Snapdragon 810 have been the main processors that have dominated the flagships of 2015. Due to the overheating issues that come with the Snapdragon 810 processor, the company had to suffer a massive impact on its reputation. The Snapdragon 808 did not have such issues, and the Snapdragon 810 was released again with improvements made to the overheating issues. Sales of the chipset also took a hit due to Samsung pulling away from the Snapdragon processor and starting to manufacture its own Exynos processors. Although the chip is filled with many features, it is in the hands of the manufacturer to take advantage of them.

The chipset is significantly faster when compared with its predecessor, but it is not only the speed that contributes to the efficiency but also other features of the chipset. According to the company, the Snapdragon 820 consumes less power and is efficient by 30 percent when compared with the Snapdragon 810 chipset.


The core of the Snapdragon 820 chipset is made up of 64-bit architecture. The chipset also consists of a Kyro CPU. The manufacturing is powered by 14 nm technology which enable the chipset to be designed smaller and perform faster.

Graphical Processing Unit

The performance of the Adreno 530 GPU which comes with the Snapdragon 820 processor is faster by 40 % when compared to the Snapdragon 810 graphics. This feature enables the Snapdragon 820 to be the ideal chipset for programs relating to virtual reality. The GPU is also capable of supporting OpenGL ES 3.1 and Open CL 2.0. The 3D that is achieved by the chipset is impressive which is capable of producing a more realistic environment when compared with the Snapdragon 810. The 3D reality produced by the GPU is more detailed, and lighting is better.


The new Snapdragon 820 is capable of delivering download speeds of up to 600Mbps with the help of technologies like LTE, 802.11 a/d and Wifi. It is comparatively very efficient and saves power while providing lightening speeds.  The LTE has been upgraded to perform faster than its previous edition. The LTE has not only achieved speed but also has some noteworthy improvements. The LTE-U feature enables the user to create his own Wifi network for robust connectivity. This also has enabled improvements is WiFi calling as well. Wifi and LTE are used in such a way as to improve communication using Wifi calling.


The new chipset is expected to use machine learning in order to counter malware. The chipset also comes with a Hexagon 680 Digital processor which is a dedicated part of sensor readings. This will enable the sensor to respond faster than traditional processing.

To improve the reception capability of the device, its chipset comes with Trusignal which will boost the signal that is being received even when it is obstructed by obstacles.

Battery Life

The battery life of the Snapdragon 820 has seen an improvement due to the power efficiency achieved by the chipset.

Fingerprint Scanner

The fingerprint scanner powered by this chipset uses ultra-sonic sound in order to increase the accuracy of the biometrics. The smart devices that are available now use capacitive fingerprint scanning. A unique feature of the ultrasonic fingerprint scanner is that it can detect the fingerprint even if the finger is contaminated by dirt or sweat. Another feature is, it is able to operate through glass and metal; this means it can be placed under the screen or anywhere inside the phone which opens up many possibilities.Difference Between Apple A9 and Qualcomm Snapdragon 820

Difference Between Apple A9 and Qualcomm Snapdragon 820


Apple A9: The Apple A9 will come with dual cores and use ARM architecture. The clocking speeds of the cores will be 1.85 GHz.

Snapdragon 820: The Snapdragon 820 is expected to be powered by custom-built Kryo CPU quad cores, which will be capable of clocking speeds of 2.2 GHz.

Qualcomm claims the Kyro cores are expected to provide 30 % more efficiency and run twice as fast when compared with the Snapdragon 810. This SoC will use 14 nm Technology in its design and manufacturing process. Apple, on the other hand, claims this processor will be 70% faster when compared to the processors on iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus.


Apple A9: The Apple A9 will be powered by Apple’s PowerVR GT7600, which will come with 6 cores that will power the graphics.

Snapdragon 820: The Snapdragon 820 graphics will be powered by the Adreno 530, support 4K at 60 fps.

According to Qualcomm, the new Adreno 530 will be 40 % faster and efficient when compared with the Adreno 430 found in the Snapdragon 810 SoC. The Apple’s graphics will be faster by 90 % when comparing it with iPhone 6 and will perform faster by 25 % when compared with its latest rivals from Samsung.


Apple A9: The Apple A9 will be powered by an image signal processor which will be able to support a 12 MP rear camera and a 5MP front snapper. The cameras will also be able to support 4K.

Snapdragon 820: The Snapdragon 820 will be powered by a new image processor, 14 bit Spectra produced by Qualcomm, which has the capability of supporting up to 3 cameras. 

The image processor on the Snapdragon 820 will be able to support a maximum resolution of 25 MP and will be capable of producing DSLR-like photos according to rumors. The camera will also be able to recognize the environment and adjust the camera settings accordingly.

LTE Modem

Apple A9: The Apple A9 is powered by Qualcomm’s MDM9625M Baseband Processor modem which can support download speeds of 300 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 50 Mbps

Snapdragon 820: The Snapdragon 820 will be powered by X12 modem which is in the SoC itself, which is capable of supporting download speeds of 600 Mbps and upload speeds of 150 Mbps.Apple A9 vs Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 - infographic

Apple A9 vs Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 – Summary

If we take a look at both SoCs as a whole, it is evident that both the chipsets are equally matched according to the details that have come to light. We will have to wait and see how the new Snapdragon 820 chipset will perform when it is released with phones in the early part of 2016. But it is clear that it will be able to compete well with the Apple’s A9 processor according to the specifications that have been laid our regarding the two chipsets.

Image Courtesy:

“Apple A9 APL0898” by Henriok – Own work. (CC0) via Commons 

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