We're a little less than a month away from seeing the next Qualcomm system-on-chip that's likely to power many of next year's best Android phones. But leaked benchmarks for the still unannounced Snapdragon 898 are starting to trickle out, giving us an idea of what kind of performance to expect.
The Snapdragon 898 will arrive at a time of stepped-up competition for Qualcomm's silicon. Not only does Apple continue to set the pace for smartphones with its A series of chips — the A15 Bionic in the iPhone 13 models is the fastest chip we've tested — but Google's Pixel 6 lineup just debuted with Google-designed Tensor chips. In our Pixel 6 benchmarks, Tensor held its own against the Snapdragon 888, Qualcomm's current leading chipset. So all eyes will be on the Snapdragon 898 — if that's what Qualcomm calls it — when it makes its debut later this year.
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Some leaked benchmark numbers from Geekbench 5 testing don't exactly sound encouraging. As spotted by Wccftech, results from a Snapdragon 898-powered Galaxy Tab S8 tablet appeared on the testing site, with multicore results lagging behind the current leading Android phones.
Specifically, the Galaxy Tab S8 powered by a chip matching the Snapdragon 898's expected specs posted a single-core score of 1,211 and a multicore result of 3,193. The former result is in line with expectations for Qualcomm's upcoming chip, but the multicore number is a little bit off, finishing below some of the Snapdragon 888-powered devices we've tested.
To put the leaked numbers in context, Samsung's Galaxy S21 posted a single-core score of 1,048 and a multicore result of 3,302 when we tested that phone earlier this year. The OnePlus 9, another Snapdragon 888 phone, turned in respective results of 1,126 and 3,618. As for the Pixel 6, it posted scores of 1,029 and 2,696, which both trail the results posted on Geekbench, but the Tensor's Geekbench scores were off the pace set by Snapdragon-powered phones.
Before you press the panic button, know that the device and processor being tested are both pre-release and likely not optimized to produce the best performance. Last week, leaker Ice Universe said to ultimately expect Geekbench numbers of 1,200 for single-core testing and 3,600 for multicore testing from the Snapdragon 898. Those numbers are much closer to the 20% performance improvement Wcftech was reporting on back in August.
Snapdragon898 Geekbench51200/3900November 5, 2021
Those projected numbers may be an improvement over what Snapdragon 888-powered phones can produce, but they won't threaten Apple's A15 Bionic chip. On Geekbench 5, the iPhone 13 produced a 1,684 single-core score and a 4,129 multicore result — well ahead of what the Snapdragon 888 produced and also better than the Snapdragon 898's projected numbers. On graphics and real-world testing we conduct, the iPhone 13 also bests leading Android flagships running on the Snapdragon 888, so Qualcomm's next-generation processor still has a big hill to climb.
We'll find out soon enough what Qualcomm has in store for next year's smartphones. The company is holding its annual Snapdragon Tech Summit, starting Nov. 30. That's the event where Qualcomm typically shows off its top silicon for the coming year.
The first phone likely to feature the Snapdragon 898 looks to be the Samsung Galaxy S22, which is expected to debut in February 2022. A new rumor claims that all S22 models will feature the Snapdragon 898, not just the models released in the U.S.
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.