Huawei Kirin 650 vs Qualcomm Snapdragon processors

“A quick look at the upcoming Kirin 650 SoC from Huawei”

The mobile landscape is expanding at a tremendous pace and so is the technology that powers such devices. Mobile processors nowadays are significant improvements over the initial variants, capable of even dethroning PC processors from yesteryears. Such expansion is not devoid of competition which has been made evident with the emergence of new manufacturers pushing out new and more economical SoCs in a market dominated by Qualcomm. 


Processors from Huawei are increasingly becoming a popular choice in the industry due to their snappy performance. In fact, more than 50 percent of 4G+ enabled smartphones in China are powered by their Kirin SoCs today. As per our sources, Honor, the smartphone e-brand of Huawei, is all set to launch a new smartphone this month with the all-new Kirin 650 SoC. Benchmarks floating in the wild place the processor in the mid-range segment with AnTuTu scores averaging a little below the MediaTek Helio X10 Soc. We put the processor head to head with the best performing chipset in the midrange segment, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 as well as the flagship offering from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 820. 

 First, let’s take a look at the differences at a high level before we delve into the details of these.


While initial reports indicated issues of overheating on the cutting-edge flagship SoC offering from Qualcomm, it is not known to heat up significantly as per our experience with devices such as the HTC 10 and  Xiaomi Mi 5 amongst others. Qualcomm also opted for its own 14nm Kryo core architecture over the ARM big.LITTLE architecture in a two pair combination, which might disappoint some users who expected the Snapdragon 820 to be an octa-core powerhouse, but at the end of the day it is powerful and optimised enough to handle almost all major computational needs of our everyday life. The Snapdragon 652 reigns supreme in the mid-range segment with its 4x ARM Cortex A72 cores paired with 4x A53 cores in big.LITTLE technology architecture.  


The Kirin 650 on the other hand, is an innovative offering fabricated by a 16nm FinFET plus process as compared to the  28nm HPm Snapdragon 6xx series. This may allow the chipset to perform at par or even better than the 28nm offerings with higher power efficiency, faster cores and cooler temperatures. According to reports, TSMC’s 16FF+ technology can provide above 65 percent higher speed, around 2 times the density, or 70 percent less power than its 28HPm technology. 

As for the specifications of the chip, it is an octa-core setup based on the ARM big.LITTLE technology with 4 x Cortex A53 cores clocked at 2.0GHz and 4 x Cortex A53 cores clocked at 1.7GHz, thereby increasing the power efficiency and performance by 40 percent and 65 percent respectively. Thanks to the eMMC 5.1–based flash memory chip and all-new EMUI 4.1 OS available on Honor devices, one can expect a fluid navigation experience on these smarphones. A Mali T830 MP2 dual-core GPU handles the graphics department and the company claims an improvement of 60 percent and 100 percent in CPU and GPU departments over the previous generation Kirin 620 SoC respectively. 

The Kirin 650 also comes with the “intelligent awareness” i5 co-processor which is a low power consuming unit that assists the main processors. The co-processor applies the advanced M7 core, of which the performance is five times that of M3, and is the co-processor with the highest performance in the industry and also allows the smartphone to run in always sensing mode at low power. i5 can also run certain complex calculations to reduce the CPU scheduling and occupation.

It also houses the self-developed SLR-level Prime ISP which helps adjust dynamic range and supports hybrid focus technology which reportedly helps take better pictures with your smartphone. The dedicated image post-processing DSP can deliver the best image quality, colors, and effects. The Kirin 650 also comes with its own HiSEE security solution, a silicon-chip level protection, which helps in mobile payments, call, keypad and fingerprint encryption. Flagship-grade dual antennas system automatically switch to the antenna with the best signal to prevent dropped calls thereby helping compact metal unibody devices maintain their sleek, premium profiles without losing out on the network coverage. 

It remains to be seen how the Kirin 650 performs in real life usage and we would be pushing it to its limits soon once we acquire such a device but it should theoretically be a slightly faster and cooler option in the current array of mid-range processors which are usually plagued by bottlenecks, heating and throttling issues. 

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