While 5G connectivity is still a long way ahead at least here in India, brands are pushing consumers to purchase 5G-enabled smartphones and that’s mainly because the chipsets used on the latest smartphones come with an integrated 5G modem. While it does make your phone future-proof to a certain extent, it increases the overall cost of the smartphone considerably since 5G modems are not cheap. We saw that happening with phones powered by the Snapdragon 865 chipset this year.
The Snapdragon 865, though, is a flagship SoC and Qualcomm wanted to make 5G accessible to mid-range smartphone users too, and hence they launched the Snapdragon 765G earlier this year. However, phones with that chipset haven’t made their way to the Indian market yet probably because the hardware itself is expensive and 5G, as we mentioned earlier, will need at least 2-3 years to commercially roll-out. The upcoming OnePlus Nord or OnePlus Z is expected to be the first smartphone in India with the Snapdragon 765G but we need to wait.
To tackle the price aspect, Qualcomm has announced yet another 5G-equipped SoC which is the Snapdragon 690 that aims to bring 5G capabilities to even lower-priced smartphones. While technically, the 600 series chips are mid-range and 700 series are upper mid-range which gives us a differentiating factor between the two SoCs, Qualcomm’s numbering scheme has been quite confusing in the past. We saw this with the entire Snapdragon 675 vs Snapdragon 710 debate and more recently, the Snapdragon 720G turned out to be ever so slightly more powerful than the Snapdragon 730G despite the numbers indicating otherwise.
So, we decided to clear any doubts and differentiate between the Snapdragon 765G and the new Snapdragon 690 to see where they stack up in Qualcomm’s portfolio and if there are any major differences between the two chipsets.
Snapdragon 690 vs Snapdragon 765G: Connectivity
The main highlight of both the Snapdragon 765G and the Snapdragon 690 is that they come integrated with a 5G modem and that’s where the first difference lies too. The Snapdragon 690 has the Qualcomm X51 modem which has support only for sub-6GHz 5G networks with download speeds of up to 2.5Gbps.
The Snapdragon 765G, on the other hand, gets the Qualcomm X52 modem which supports both sub-6GHz as well as mmWave 5G networks and can provide a download speed of up to 3.7GHz when connected to a 5G network. What this means is there’s wider support for 5G networks across various bands, something that the Snapdragon 690 lacks. There’s also a big difference in upload speeds which is capped at 210 Mbps on the Snapdragon 690 whereas it’s up to 1.6 Gbps on the Snapdragon 765G. The 765G is also Wi-Fi 6 ready while the Snapdragon 690 misses out on that.
Performance and AI
While both the Snapdragon 765G and the Snapdragon 690 are octa-core CPUs, there are some notable differences in their core configurations which makes it hard to determine if one is better than the other without actually testing them in real life. The first difference is in terms of the manufacturing process which is 7nm for the Snapdragon 765G and 8nm for the Snapdragon 690 and here, it’s clear that the 765G is better. The Snapdragon 765G also has a higher clock speed of 2.4 GHz whereas the Snapdragon 690 is clocked at 2 GHz only.
While these parameters can be clearly differentiated, the next set of parameters is where Qualcomm’s numbering scheme gets confusing. The Snapdragon 690 gets Qualcomm’s Kryo 560 CPU cores whereas the Snapdragon 765G comes equipped with Kryo 475 cores. Here, one would ideally think the Kryo 560 cores are newer and better than the Kryo 475 cores on the Snapdragon 765G and that ambiguity continues even when we look at the core configurations.
We contacted Qualcomm to get some clarification on the configuration of the Kryo cores and as per their response, the architectures are quite different. The Kryo 560 cores on the Snapdragon 690 are divided into two clusters – 2x Cortex A77 cores clocked at 2GHz which are the performance cores used for high-intensity workloads and 6x Cortex A55 cores clocked at 1.7GHz which are the battery efficient core used to perform simple tasks.
The Kryo 475, on the other hand, that’s used on the Snapdragon 765G is divided into three clusters instead of two – A single Prime core which is the Cortex A76 clocked at 2.4GHz, a single performance core, also the A76 clocked slightly lower at 2.2GHz, and six battery-efficient Cortex A55 cores, same as the ones on the Snapdragon 690 but with a 100Mhz faster clock at 1.8GHz.
On paper, the Cortex A77 based Kryo 560 cores seem more powerful when compared to the A76 based Kryo 475 on the Snapdragon 765G. A report from Smartprix also mentions that the Cortex A77 cores are up to 20% faster than A76. This seems contradictory as to why Qualcomm would equip an SoC that’s in a lower series than the 765G with better performance. We will have to wait till we get our hands on phones that come with these processors in order to test which one does better in terms of raw performance.
Moving to graphics performance, the Snapdragon 765G has a lead here with the Adreno 620 GPU whereas the Snapdragon 690 has the Adreno 619L. Even in terms of AI processing, the SD 765G gets the Qualcomm Hexagon 696 DSP while the Snapdragon 690 settles for the Hexagon 692.
Snapdragon 765G vs Snapdragon 690: Cameras
The Snapdragon 765G has support for higher resolution cameras when compared to the Snapdragon 690 while capturing HDR photos with ZSL or Zero Shutter Lag. The Snapdragon 765G can do Multi-Frame Noise Reduction with sensors up to 22Mp using a dual-camera setup and 36MP with a single camera, while the Snapdragon 690 tops out at 16MP for dual cameras and 32MP for a single camera. However, the Snapdragon 690 overtakes the Snapdragon 765G in one department and that is it has the ability to record HDR videos.
Other than these differentiating factors, both chipsets support Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+, have 2133MHz RAM, USB-C version 3.1, HDR10 display capability, and NavIC support.
As per Qualcomm, devices using the Snapdragon 690 could be launched in the $300-500 price range whereas those with the Snapdragon 765G would fall into the $400-600 price bracket. While there are phones with the Snapdragon 765G already and as mentioned earlier, the much-awaited OnePlus Nord/Z is also rumored to come with it, we would have to see when brands would launch phones with the Snapdragon 690 so that we will be able to compare the performance of both chipsets and get a practical idea of how they compare against each other.