A15 Bionic finally gets real competition from an unlikely source

A15 Bionic finally gets real competition from an unlikely source

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MediaTek rivals A15 Bionic
Another blow to Qualcomm.
Image: MediaTek

MediaTek looks set to become the first mobile chipmaker to finally give iPhone 13’s A15 Bionic chip a run for its money in processing performance.

The Taiwanese company’s new Dimensity 9000 chipset, announced late last year, is yet to make its way into an Android device. But early benchmarks suggest it will easily outpace rivals from Google, Samsung and Qualcomm.

MediaTek sneaks up on Apple

Apple’s custom A-series chips for iPhone and iPad are the industry’s gold standard. They have long been way ahead of the competition in performance, graphics and efficiency. And every year, Apple makes them even better.

The likes of Google, Samsung and Qualcomm have been trying for years to keep up with Cupertino’s somewhat unbelievable gains, but they’re yet to produce a chipset that can beat or even match the latest iPhone in performance.

It seems, however, that we’ve had our eye on the wrong competitor. A15 Bionic’s first real rival looks set to come from MediaTek — a company that’s mostly known for building decent but not brilliant chips for more affordable devices.

Can MediaTek match A15 Bionic?

MediaTek last year announced its next-generation Dimensity 9000 system-on-chip (SoC) for “flagship” smartphones and tablets. It’s the world’s first 4-nanometer chip, and it boasts a bunch of impressive specifications.

The Dimensity 9000 features eight Arm Cortex cores — including the first X2 CPU clocked at 3 GHz — plus a Mali-G710 GPU that supports ray-tracing, and 12GB of super-fast LPDDR5X memory. And that’s just the start of it.

It also supports:

  • Cameras up to 320 megapixels
  • 8K video playback
  • 4K HDR video recording
  • HDR10+ Adaptive displays at up to 180Hz
  • Wi-Fi 6E
  • Bluetooth 5.3

But what does all that actually mean? Well, in addition to supporting the latest smartphone features — like high-resolution cameras and displays, and the best connectivity technologies — the Dimensity 9000 is insanely fast.

Dimensity 9000 boasts impressive benchmarks

MediaTek said its new high-end chip would match A15 Bionic, Apple’s newest mobile chip found inside iPhone 13, in performance. But we didn’t really believe it until early Dimensity 9000 benchmarks leaked on Monday.

According to those Geekbench results, the chip achieves a single-core score of 1,309 and a multi-core score of 4,546. In comparison, Google’s custom Tensor chip in the Pixel 6 Pro achieves scores of 1,035 and 2,870, respectively.

The Dimensity 9000 easily walks all over Google, then. But it gets more impressive. It also outperforms Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in the Galaxy S22 Ultra, which achieves scores of 1,224 and 3,445.

And when you compare it with the A15 Bionic, which scores 1,733 in single-core tests and 4,751 in multi-core tests, the Dimensity 9000 is the only rival that can compete. It’s not quite a match, but it’s darn close.

There’s a catch

The best bit? It is believed the Dimensity 9000 will eventually end up in smartphones costing around $500 — half that of iPhone 13, and only a little more than iPhone SE. That should have Samsung and Qualcomm worried.

It’s important to note, however, that these benchmarks come from an unknown device — likely one that’s built solely for testing purposes and tuned for benchmarking, rather than a “real” product that’s about to go on sale.

Actual performance in a production smartphone or tablet is likely to be different. Nevertheless, the Dimensity 9000 is shaping up to be an incredibly exciting leap forward for Android fans.