Indian Gadget Awards winners: Snapdragon 860, Apple A15 Bionic, MediaTek score wins in Best Mobile SoC of 2021 category

The heart and the brains of your smartphone, these are the best SoCs of the year

Smartphones have become more powerful and reliable than before, thanks in no small part to the unending efforts from SoC manufacturers like Qualcomm, MediaTek etc. With that said, while chipmakers like MediaTek and Qualcomm had a strong say in the market, numerous phone vendors pitched in with their home-grown hardware too. To that note, Apple and Samsung’s respective flagship smartphones employed their in-house silicons. Suffice it to say, 2021 witnessed a slew of compelling mobile SoCs which is why, we decided to shed some light on the best chipsets. Enter, the Best Mobile SoC of 2021 award, which is part of the Indian Gadget Awards, the biggest tech awards in the country. In fact, with over 40 experts making up the jury panel, 30 categories, and nearly 200 nominees, these awards are truly the voice of the industry. 

We have three categories for the best mobile SoC of 2021, with one category each for mainstream and premium segments. The third category is for the SoC brand that disrupted the segment with strong offerings that changed the game for the better. So, which of these chipmakers made a strong impression and delivered value and performance in their segment? Well, here are the winners across the three categories:

Best Mobile SoC of 2021 — Mainstream

The mainstream Mobile SoC segment primarily includes chipsets powering smartphones that launched under Rs 20,000 this year. The list covers brands like Xiaomi, Realme, Vivo, and POCO among others. And, when it comes to the chip manufacturers, it’s a direct tussle between MediaTek and Qualcomm that have brought a slew of mid-range 5G SoCs this year. Drum roll… and the winner is:

Winner: Qualcomm Snapdragon 860

Runner-up: Qualcomm Snapdragon 768G

Here are the top contenders for the mainstream Mobile SoC of 2021:

MediaTek Dimensity 810

We start the list of nominees with a recent launch from MediaTek, the Dimensity 810 SoC. This chipset epitomises value, performance and efficiency in the best way possible. To wit, the SoC supports up to 120Hz refresh rate screens and is built on a 6nm process node, ensuring the chipset’s performance and thermals go hand-in-hand, thereby lending users long battery life. For imaging, the Dimensity 810 offers support for up to 64MP camera sensors and the chipset even comes bundled with Wi-Fi 5 standard, dual SIM 5G capabilities as well as NavIC to boost its connectivity chops. The SoC’s loaded spec-sheet must’ve impressed smartphone vendors, as the processor can already be seen backing some impressive mid-rangers from Realme and Redmi. 

Qualcomm Snapdragon 768G

Snapdragon 768G technically launched last year but phones powered by the SoC forayed over to the Indian shores in 2021. The Snapdragon 768G is a mid-range chipset that punches well above its weight and delivers reliable performance as well as 5G connectivity to the masses. Quite frankly, the SoC is in a league of its own and offers support for up to 120Hz refresh rate displays as well as video recording with 10-bit colour depth. While all that’s good and dandy, the SoC’s Adreno 620 GPU is a godsend for mobile gamers on a budget. In fact, the chipset can run graphically demanding games like COD Mobile or Battlegrounds Mobile India at respectable graphics and FPS settings. Rest assured, Snapdragon 768G’s competition have some pretty big shoes to fill. 

Qualcomm Snapdragon 860

Qualcomm adopted and tweaked its Snapdragon 855 flagship chipset from 2019 to give users the new Snapdragon 860 mid-range SoC in 2021. Undeniably, the SoC’s performance is the biggest strong point and the chipset is the most powerful mobile CPU south of Rs 20K.You also get support for ultra-wide camera sensors, selfie night mode and support for up to 16GB RAM on devices. We’ve seen the prowess of Snapdragon 860 SoC with the POCO X3 Pro this year, and that itself is a big reason why this SoC is one of our nominees in 2021.

MediaTek Dimensity 700

We saw quite a few affordable and mid-range 5G phones powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 700 SoC this year. Unsurprisingly, the chipset made its way to our list of nominees too. Built on a 7nm architecture, the SoC ships with an integrated 5G modem, making it a boon for buyers looking for a VFM 5G device. The SoC also brings a boatload of power-saving features, and even supports high-refresh rate screens (up to 90Hz). Add to that support for fast LPDDR4x memory and UFS 2.2 storage and it’s no wonder the SoC is powering devices from well-known brands like Realme, Samsung and even Vivo.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 678

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 678 SoC is the successor to Snapdragon 675 chipset. Spec-wise, the newer SoC offers faster clock speeds, Quick Charge 4 technology and USB Type C with USB 3.1 support. The imaging quality offered by the Spectra 250L ISP has been deemed to be quite impressive for the price. What’s more, the device ships with a bunch of battery-efficient cores, along with overclocked Cortex A76 cores, ensuring buyers opting for a phone with the SD678 chipset get the best of both worlds. It goes without saying that the chipset is plenty capable, which is why Redmi decided to use the same to power its all-new Redmi Note 10. 

Best Mobile SoC of 2021 — Premium

Flagship phones are all about performance, top-notch photography and usually offer all the bells and whistles money can buy. So the Indian Gadgets Awards 2021 for premium Mobile SoC of 2021 looks at the top contenders that powered premium phones like the iPhone 13 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and the OnePlus 9 Pro among others. Who won? Take a look!

Winner: Apple A15 Bionic

Runner-up: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888+

Here is the list of nominees for this category:

Qualcomm Snapdragon 888+

The Snapdragon 888+ is the latest and greatest chipset from Qualcomm’s stables and the flagship SoC is one of the strongest contenders for our award for the Best Mobile SoC of 2021 – premium category. The processor can be found powering select phones, the likes of which include ASUS’ ROG Phone 5, a device that is often touted as the fastest Android phone to grace the market in 2021. Not only can the SoC turbo all the way up to 3GHz, but the chipset also supports LPDDR5 memory, thereby ensuring rapid response times regardless of what task users throw at it. Suffice it to say, the Snapdragon 888+ SoC is the cream of the crop, making it the perfect choice for high-end devices, and one of the nominees for our award.

Apple A15 Bionic

Apple introduced the new A15 Bionic chipset in 2021 and the SoC can be seen powering the latest iPhone 13 series. Launched as the successor to the A14 Bionic which, by the way, is still a fantastic mobile processor – the A15 Bionic is actually 20 percent faster than its predecessor, and around 50 percent powerful than other competitors in the market. Despite that, the chipset is extremely battery-efficient and iPhone users across the globe have been raving about the iPhone 13 series battery gains. That’s not all, as the newer SoC enables some fantastic camera features too, the likes of which include a new processing algo dubbed Smart HDR 4, predefined photographic styles and the company’s all-new Cinematic mode. Undeniably, Apple’s A15 bionic continues to stay ahead of its rivals, which makes it a sure-shot contender for the Best Mobile SoC – premium category award.

MediaTek Dimensity 1200

MediaTek Dimensity 1200 is the top-end mobile SoC from the company that you can buy on smartphones in the market right now. Built on the 6nm architecture, the SoC has set a benchmark in the performance department for devices powered under Rs 30K. The SoC has an integrated 5G modem too, that brings the latest connectivity standard to a wide range of smartphones. Moreover, seeing how the chipset also supports UFS 3.1 storage technology, devices backed by the Dimensity 1200 chipset also deliver fast data transfer speeds. 

Samsung Exynos 2100

Samsung’s Exynos lineup needs no introduction and the company has, for years, utilised its in-house silicon to power its flagship devices in the country. That said, Exynos processors usually played second fiddle to their Qualcomm counterparts. Well, with the Exynos 2100 SoC, the company has truly turned the tides back in its favour as the latest chipset is neck-and-neck with heavyweights from Qualcomm and MediaTek. Powering the Samsung Galaxy S21 series, the chipset impressed buyers and critics alike with incredible benchmark numbers. What’s more, the 5nm SoC proved to be an asset for budding photographers too, allowing users to record videos in 8K resolution. Samsung also added 5G connectivity support on its new flagship chip, allowing the brand to compete with others in the segment.  

Qualcomm Snapdragon 870

While not as powerful as the SD888 processor, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 870 chipset offers users extremely stable performance even under strenuous workloads. The SoC can even run most, if not all graphically intensive titles at the best possible settings. Unsurprisingly, the chipset made its way into a slew of flagship-killers, the likes of which include the Realme GT Neo 2, the Xiaomi Mi 11X, the iQOO 7 and even the Vivo X60 series of phones. It goes without saying that the chipset also comes with support for new-age technologies like 5G connectivity and Wi-Fi 6 capabilities. Rest assured, the Snapdragon 870 makes a solid case to win this year’s award.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G

Last but certainly not least, let’s take a look at the Snapdragon 778G SoC from Qualcomm’s stables. The mobile SoC is around 40 percent faster than its predecessor, the Snapdragon 768G, thanks to its 6nm architecture and powerful Cortex A78 performance cores. Qualcomm has also improved the AI capabilities of the chipset and for imaging, the processor offers enticing features like support for 10-bit HDR HEIF photo capture, as well as recording videos in  HDR10, HDR10+ and HLG formats. The SoC even allows smartphone OEMs to bundle up to 144Hz refresh rate screens, along with LPDDR5 memory. Rest assured, the Snapdragon 778G is a reliable workhorse that won’t necessarily break the bank.

Best Mobile SoC Brand of 2021

2021 was a marquee year for mobile chipsets, as the category saw quite a few noteworthy offerings from various brands, catering to different price segments. Improving in almost all respects, chipsets this year brought better performance, better battery efficiency, improved capabilities related to aspects like AI, camera, display, connectivity and other core parameters. This award for the Best Mobile SoC Brand of 2021 aims to recognise the brand that disrupted the industry with strong products and appeared as the most promising player. And the brand that made the biggest impact on the mobile SoC segment in 2021 is…

Winner: MediaTek

Runner-up: Qualcomm

The nominees are:

Qualcomm


Qualcomm had a busy year, as it launched new SoCs spanning the entire spectrum. Its flagship offerings, the Snapdragon 888 and 888+ grabbed the limelight and backed the best Android had to offer in 2021, including powering devices like the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra and Vivo’s X70 Pro Plus. That said, chipsets like the Snapdragon 778G and Snapdragon 870 were extremely noteworthy, delivering not just on performance but also features and bang for the buck. A good example of the same is the iQOO 7, which employed Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 870 SoC to offer a fantastic gaming experience. In a similar fashion, the SD778G-backed Realme GT Master Edition captivated the audience with its sleek design and powerful, yet efficient performance. 5G was one of the key focus areas, and the brand delivered on that even with more value-oriented chipsets like the Snapdragon 480+, which can be seen powering the likes of the Moto G51.

MediaTek


MediaTek displayed strong growth and wider adoption of its chipsets by smartphone manufacturers, with brands like OnePlus, Samsung and others using these SoCs for their handsets, apart from the usual ones like Xiaomi and Realme. Interestingly, while MediaTek’s G series SoCs remained popular and powered some impressive phones, the likes of which include devices from Realme’s Narzo series and the Redmi Note 10S, the brand’s Dimensity range saw many takers as well, thanks to the emphasis on improved performance, thermal efficiency, battery efficiency, and 5G. Chipsets like the Dimensity 700, 800, 800u and 1200 made their way into numerous phones in the year, with most of them coming across as compelling options that found favour with users looking for all-rounders and value for their money. The Dimensity 1200 SoC, in particular, offered exceptional performance for the price. In fact, the SoC was among the first chipsets to enable the 90fps mode on popular battle royale title, BGMI. Similarly, the company’s Dimensity 700 and 800 chipsets weren’t just capable performers, but the SoCs also paved way for premium features like a high-refresh rate display and 50MP sensors on numerous affordable phones.

UNISOC


Catering mainly to the affordable end of the market, UNISOC’s chipsets also saw solid growth, buoyed by adoption from brands like Samsung and Nokia. In fact, the company’s T610 SoC offered some never-seen-before features in the sub Rs 10K segment, including support for high-res, 50MP sensors and 18W fast-charging. Apart from smartphones, UNISOC chipsets also made their way into affordable tablets. Notably, devices like the Samsung Galaxy A03, Galaxy Tab A8, and Nokia’s new T20 tablet, among others, helped UNISOC post strong growth. We can expect to see even more devices use the brand’s chipsets in the future too.