Want the fastest phone? Skip the iPhone XS and wait for 2019's Androids

Qualcomm's next generation system on a chip is big leap forward in performance, bringing high speeds to Android powered smartphones.

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A preproduction device powered by the next generation of Qualcomm's system on a chip (SoC) has climbed to the top of the chart in popular benchmarking app AnTuTu, according to a report by Gizmochina. Screenshots of the test results show the Snapdragon 8150 returning a score of 362,292, marking the first time an Android-powered device has crossed the 360,000 threshold.

For comparison, the A12 Bionic used in the iPhone XS has a score of 363,525. Existing Android phones such as the Huawei Mate 20, powered by a Kirin 980 SoC, scores 311,840, and Xiaomi's Black Shark Helo smartphone scores 301,757, according to the Gizmochina report.

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Qualcomm chipsets are generally the most popular option for flagship Android phones. The Snapdragon 845 is used in the Google Pixel 3 & 3 XL, the LG V35 ThinQ, the Sony Xperia XZ3, and on North American models of the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+.

While the benchmark score of the preproduction device was just shy of beating the iPhone XS, a number of factors can influence these scores. AnTuTu benchmark scores are a composite of CPU, GPU, UX, and memory. Capacity and speeds of RAM and Flash storage on phones can impact these scores, and vendor-specific driver optimization can improve them as well. Though specific details of the tested preproduction device are not known, pre-retail devices generally do not have finalized drivers, giving room for device manufacturers to squeeze more performance out of the new Snapdragon 8150 chipset. Therefore, it's possible that Android phones released in 2019 may outperform iPhones, making them more appealing for business users.

Part of the reason the Snapdragon 8150 is able to achieve this substantial performance increase is anticipated to be a move to TSMC's 7nm manufacturing process, which allows for more transistors to be placed in the same physical die size. Like the 10nm Snapdragon 845, the die size of the 8150 is expected to be 12.4 x 12.4 mm.

Qualcomm is expected to formally announce the Snapdragon 8150 next month, though the first phones to be powered by the chipset are not expected to be available until mid-2019. The final name may be different, however. A report from WinFuture indicates that the chip is known internally as "sm8150", though previous Snapdragon marketing names are three digits, like 845. A higher-clocked version, Snapdragon 8180, is anticipated to be used for ARM-powered notebooks.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • A preproduction device powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8150 has an AnTuTu benchmark score of 362,292, the first time an Android device has scored over 360,000.
  • The Snapdragon 8150 is anticipated to use a 7nm manufacturing process, which allows for more transistors to be placed in the same physical die size.

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Image: Sarah Tew/CNET