Ever since its launch, the Snapdragon 636 mobile platform has been pitted against a number of mobile chipsets including the in-house Snapdragon 660. However, a few months down the line the 636 saw a new competitor in the form of the MediaTek Helio P60. This processor, which made its official debut at MWC 2018, is considered one of the best mid-range chipsets from MediaTek.
The MediaTek Helio P60 has powered a number of recent smartphones, including the Oppo F7 and the Vivo X21i. This, however, is just the beginning as the new chipset from MediaTek is expected to power a number of upcoming devices from Xiaomi and Meizu.
So, how does the new MediaTek Helio P60 match up against the already established Snapdragon 636 processor? Well, let's find out!
Before, we start, let's have a quick rundown of the specifications of both the chips.
Specifications That Matter
4x Cortex-A73, 4x Cortex-A53 up to 2.0 GHz
8x Kryo 260 CPU up to 1.8 GHz
Dual Channel LPDDR4x 1800 MHz
Dual Channel LPDDR4/4x 1333 MHz with eMMC 5.1 storage
Up to 16+24MP or 32MP
Up to 24MP and 16+16MP
Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0
Whenever a new chipset is launched, the first domain that falls under the lens is performance and rightly so. Given our undying love for gaming and multitasking, it's imperative that a future-ready chip handles each of these activities like a well-oiled machine.
Starting with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 636, it replaces the highly popular Snapdragon 630 in the Snapdragon family. It's developed using the 14nm LPP FinFET process from Samsung. This design process helps in energy efficiency and heat control, which eventually results in better overall performance. On the CPU end, Qualcomm has scaled the Snapdragon 636 up by many folds.
You won't find the standard ARM cores, instead, it's powered by the high-performing Kryo 260 cores which uses the Big.Little architecture.
In fact, the Snapdragon 636 is amongst the first chipsets in the 600-series family to have the Kryo 260 cores. As we mentioned above, the Kryo 260 cores ups the performance by several notches. They combine four 64-bit ARM semi-custom Cortex-A73 'performance' cores clocked at 2.2GHz and four Cortex-A53 'efficiency' cores clocked at 1.7GHz. This combination eventually results in improved task-sharing capacities and low latency.
This combination of performance cores and efficiency cores results in improved task-sharing capacities.
Interestingly, the MediaTek Helio is the first mobile chipset to be fabricated on the latest TSMC 12nm FinFET process. MediaTek claims that this new fabrication process consumes 15% less power compared to its 14nm counterparts and at the same time, brings the performance and efficiency of the chip close enough to the 10nm chipsets.
In terms of power efficiency, it claims to have reached the same efficiency level as the 10nm chipsets. However, when it comes to performance improvement, MediaTek goes by the old book.
It employs a cluster of 4x Cortex A73 'performance' cores and 4x Cortex A53 'efficiency' cores that are designed to run at 2.0GHz. In a nutshell, the Helio P60 is built keeping in mind the battery needs and multitasking requirements of its users.
Though the new P60 brings significant improvements over its predecessors (P23 and P30), it somehow pales in comparison to the Snapdragon 636. Yes, it's true that the P60 employs a newer design process, however, it's not the only factor that decides the overall performance of any chipset for that matter.
A chipset's performance can't be solely measured on the basis of how much heat it mitigates in the process. The clockspeed frequency, the CPU, and the GPU also play an important part, and that's where the P60 loses ground.
In a nutshell, the Snapdragon 636's use of Kryo cores can be largely attributed to the faster calculations and thus better performance when compared to the P60's Cortex A73 cores.
The MediaTek Helio P60 supports a dual camera setup up to 24+16-megapixel and a single 32-megapixel shooter. Where the P60 has scaled up is in the image signal processors (ISP) department. Its three ISPs increase the power efficiency, thus letting you click more pictures without draining the battery life. This is a feature that would certainly go down well with the selfie-loving millenials!
Plus with the latest AI tweaks, the P60 supports real-time beautification & overlays and real-time video previews, not to mention real-time HDR previews. Apart from that, the key highlight of this chipset is the improvement in depth-mapping, making the object stand in sharp focus against a soft background.
Pictures Captured Using the Oppo F7
On the other hand, the Snapdragon 636 supports a single shooter up to 24-megapixel and a 16+16-megapixel dual camera setup. It uses Qualcomm's in-house Spectra 160 ISP coupled with Clear Sight for better low-light photography.
Pictures Captured Using the Redmi Note 5 Pro
For the uninformed, ISP is responsible for doing small but important housekeeping jobs of the camera system like controlling the autofocus, white balance, exposure, etc.
ISP is responsible for doing small but important housekeeping jobs of the camera system
Though the specs sound good, it remains to be seen how OEMs are able to tap the power of both the processors. At the end of the day, the picture quality that we, as end users, get depends on multiple factors such as the lens used, the behind-the-scenes software processing, etc.
Nevertheless, here are a couple of more pictures captured using the Redmi Note 5 Pro and the Oppo F17.
Artificial Intelligence or AI is the hot word for 2018 and more smartphones are implementing AI features in one way or the other. Thankfully, both the chipsets do not disappoint. The Helio P60 is the first mid-range SOC to bring a dedicated multi-core AI processing unit (mobile APU) which will find its use in facial recognition and object identification, among others.
The Helio P60 is the first mid-range SOC to bring a dedicated multi-core AI processing unit
On the other hand, the Snapdragon 636 supports Qualcomm's Neural Processing Engine (NPE) SDK. Notably, this SDK works with some of the most popular AI frameworks such as Caffe/Caffe2, including Google’s TensorFlow.
Last but not the least, let's have a quick glance at the charging technique. It's without a shred of doubt that Qualcomm Quick Charge is one of the most sought-after features in phones today. This fast charging technique buys you a few hours of battery juice easily in a just a few minutes.
Interestingly, the Snapdragon 636 has the support for Quick Charge 4.0. ICYMI, Quick Charge 4.0 buys you a whopping 5 hours of battery life in under 5 minutes. Though most phone manufacturers won't straightaway give you Quick Charge 4.0 in mid-range phones, you can at least expect Quick Charge 3.0 (God bless backward compatibility).
On the other hand, a phone with MediaTek Helio P60 can at best offer adaptive fast charge, which sadly, isn't in the same league as Qualcomm's Quick Charge.
Which One is The Ultimate Winner
These were some of the notable differences between the Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 and MediaTek Helio P60. Performance wise, the Snapdragon 636 seems to be the clear winner with better optimization, stability, and impressive gaming performance.
Also, if we were to look at the benchmark scores, there is a slight twist to the tale. The Snapdragon 636 on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro clocked a score around 112649, whereas the Oppo F7 scored around 139156. Yes, it's true benchmark scores alone aren't indicative of how a phone handles the real-world experiences, however, it gives us a rough idea of what the processor, more importantly, the phone running it is capable of.
Given how MediaTek has upped its game in the mid-range segment, it'd be interesting to see if the Helio P60 can beat the Snapdragon 636 in the popularity charts.