If you’re in the market for a mid-range smartphone, your best options are devices running the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660, or the HiSilicon Kirin 710. These two SoCs have proven to be quite capable, providing the right balance between efficiency and processing power. But if you’re genuinely into smartphones and don’t want to spend your money on a less efficient chipset, here’s a breakdown of what differentiates these two processors, and which one is the better buy.
The primary difference between the mid-range offerings from Huawei and Qualcomm is the fabrication node. Qualcomm’s 14nm LPP FinFET process is starting to show its age with the Snapdragon 660, while Huawei implemented a 12nm fabrication process with the Kirin 710, which has increased efficiency and reduced overall power-draw.
Another difference between the two SoCs is the way their CPU cores are configured.
The Snapdragon 660 is the first chipset to bring the custom Kryo cores from the 800-series processors down to the 600-series territory. The Kryo cores are comprised of high-performance and high-efficiency cores. The semi-custom ARM Cortex-A73 cores handle all workloads that are CPU intensive and are clocked at 2.2GHz while the semi-custom ARM Cortex-A53 efficiency cores are clocked at 1.7GHz. This configuration comes with multiple benefits, such as improved task-sharing abilities, optimised power savings, improved heat management and more.
The Kirin 710 is based on ARM’s big.little architecture, which utilises clusters of four cores each — aimed at extracting maximum performance from the SoC. The performance cluster consists of Cortex-A73 cores that are clocked at 2.2GHz, while the Cortex-A53 efficiency cores are clocked at 1.7GHz.
The Kirin 710 uses the ARM Mali-G51 MP4 GPU, and it is noticeably underpowered in comparison to the Adreno 512 on the Snapdragon 660. The Adreno 512 is clocked higher and also brings with it support for the Vulkan API. Vulkan brings with it the promise of a better and more immersive graphical experience for users during gaming sessions.
On paper, the Kirin 710 seems like it can’t game very well, but that isn’t the case. Huawei bundled the Kirin 710 with its proprietary GPU Turbo technology, which accelerates GPU hardware and prevents bottlenecking. To summarise, neither of these phones will disappoint, if gaming is on your list of priorities.
Camera and Display
The Snapdragon 660 supports a single 25-megapixel camera or dual 16-megapixel cameras, and also Qualcomm’s Clear Sight technology. Clear Sight helps the sensor(s) capture more light and reduce noise in low-light scenarios. The Spectra 160 ISP chip promises zero shutter lag, faster-focusing speeds, and more accurate colour reproduction.
The Snapdragon 660 supports displays up to QHD or WQXGA resolutions. Huawei has not revealed any details regarding the camera sensor support on the Kirin 710 platform, which supports a display resolution of up to FHD+.
The Snapdragon 660 SoC packs in support for Qualcomm’s Neural Processing Engine SDK, ensuring compatibility with AI frameworks such as Google’s TensorFlow and provide users with access to word prediction and scene recognition.
The Kirin 710 has no dedicated neural processing unit. Instead, it uses combined resources from the CPU and GPU to compute AI-related tasks such as scene-recognition and face unlock.
Benchmark Scores (Antutu)
Comparing the Antutu benchmark scores reveals that the Kirin 710 is not far behind the Snapdragon 660. The more modern fabrication process helps the Kirin 710 to match, and even beat the Snapdragon 660 in CPU stress tests. The GPU scores are where the Snapdragon 660, with its Adreno 512, really shine.
Kirin 710 [Huawei Nova 3i]
- Overall Score: 138280
- CPU Score: 65581
- GPU Score: 22547
Snapdragon 660 [Xiaomi Mi A2]
- Overall Score: 131297
- CPU Score: 56321
- GPU Score: 29773
While Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 660 is getting a bit dated, it still is quite powerful and decently efficient. The Adreno 512 GPU and support for Quick Charge 4.0 make it a versatile and capable chipset. The Kirin 710, on the other hand, is more efficient, while managing to come as close to the Snapdragon 660 as possible in terms of performance. While the Kirin 710 will not disappoint, the Snapdragon 660 is the better chipset for a mid-range mobile device.
|Category||Kirin 710||Snapdragon 660|
|CPU||4 ARM Cortex-A73 @ 2.2GHz + 4 ARM Cortex-A53 @ 1.7GHz||Qualcomm Kryo 64-bit260 CPU, Octa-core CPU; Clock Speed: From 1.95 GHz to 2.2 GHz|
|GPU||ARM Mali-G51 MP4||Qualcomm Adreno 512 GPU|
|Memory||Max 6GB LPDDR4||LPDDR4/4x, Dual-Channel;1866MHz; 8GB RAM|
|Benchmark Scores||Total: 138280 | CPU: 65581 | GPU: 22547||Total: 131297 | CPU: 56321 | GPU: 29773|
|Camera||16MP + 24MP, dual camera support||Dual Camera, MFNR, ZSL, 30fps: Up to 16 MP; Single Camera, MFNR, ZSL, 30fps: Up to 25 MP; Single Camera: Up to 48 MP|
|Bluetooth||Bluetooth 4.2||Bluetooth 5.0|
|Charging||Huawei’s SuperCharge 2.0||Qualcomm Quick Charge 4 technology|
|Display||FHD+||Up to QHD and WQXGA|
I’m a tech enthusiast, amateur motorcyclist and also an Android purist. You can find me spending most of my time gaming on my PC, or binge watching on Netflix.