The Battle of the Mid-Range Chips - MediaTek Helio P70 And Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 | Which is Better

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2018 has been a great year for mobile processors. This year we saw the debut of many mid-range processors (or mobile platforms as some like to call them), blurring the lines between premium and mid-range mobile processors. MediaTek in its race with Qualcomm has produced two notable mid-range chipsets this year — the Helio P60 and the Helio P70.

Mediatek Helio P70 And Qualcomm Snapdragon 660

The Helio P70 has an amazing trove of new specs, including a TSMC 12nm FinFET production process and a dedicated AI Processing Unit (APU). On the other hand, the Snapdragon 660 is considered Qualcomm's one of the most powerful mid-range processors in the 600-series, only next to the Snapdragon 710.
Both these chipsets promise the best smartphone performance for the price. However, what's the real picture if you place them side-by-side? Well, let's find out.
PropertyMediaTek Helio P70Qualcomm Snapdragon 660
PropertyMediaTek Helio P70Qualcomm Snapdragon 660
Manufacturing Process12nm14nm
Architecture64-bit64-bit
CPU4x Cortex-A73 + 4x Cortex-A53 Up to 2.1GHz8x Kryo 260 CPU Up to 2.2GHz
GPUMali G72Adreno 512 with Vulkan API
Bluetooth SupportBluetooth 4.2Bluetooth 5.0
MemoryLPDDR4xLPDDR4x
Max Display Resolution2160 x 1080Up to QHD and WQXGA
Camera32MP, 24MP+16MPDual Qualcomm Spectra 160 ISP up to 24MP and 16MP
PredecessorHelio P60Snapdragon 653

Performance: Who Wins?

Performance is one of the driving factors in mobile processors with makers opting for smaller process nodes. Until a few years ago, the Samsung's 14nm LTT process was somewhat a standard with mid-range processors.

Mediatek Helio P70 Vs Qualcomm Snapdragon 660

Now chipset makers have opted for smaller nodes, thus boosting the performance and keeping the thermals under control. MediaTek has employed TSMC's 12nm FinFET production process for the Helio P70.
On the CPU end, this octa-core processor bundles four ARM Cortex A73 cores acting as the performance cores and four ARM Cortex A53 cores acting as the efficiency cores. Both these core clusters are clocked at 2.1GHz and 2.0GHz respectively.

Cortex A73

If you recall, Helio P60 carries the same arrangement, but its performance cores are clocked at 2.0GHz. MediaTek claims that this change in clocking frequency marks a 13% increase in overall performance.
This arrangement is paired with a Mali G72 GPU, which sees a bump in clocking frequency to 900MHz. In the CPU department, the P70 appears to be similar to the P60, safe for the clocking frequency. Also, MediaTek has stuck to the conventional cores arrangement.

Snapdragon 660

On the other hand, the Snapdragon 660 does things a tad differently. It's the first mid-range chipset to come with custom Qualcomm Kryo 260 CPU cores. The Snapdragon's Kryo 260 cores-based cluster consists of four Cortex-A73 'performance' cores clocked at 2.2GHz, and four Cortex-A53 'efficiency' cores clocked at 1.7GHz. These custom cores result in 20% higher performance compared to its predecessor, the Snapdragon 652. Also, the Snapdragon 660 is paired with the Adreno 512 GPU.
The new custom cores result in 20% higher performance
However, these Kryo 260 cores are fabricated on a 14nm process, which seems to be a step back from the 12nm fabrication process seen in the Helio P70.
Even if the 12nm fabrication process provides the Helio P70 a head start, the Snapdragon 660 makes up for that gap with its custom Kryo cores. We pitted the Snapdragon 660-powered Samsung Galaxy A9 with the Helio P70-powered Realme U1 to run some benchmarks, and here are the results.

Mediatek Helio P70 Vs Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 Benchmarks 2
Mediatek Helio P70 Vs Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 Benchmarks 5
PropertyRealme U1Samsung Galaxy A9
PropertyRealme U1Samsung Galaxy A9
Antutu Total Score134849140683
Antutu CPU Score6324663594
Antutu GPU Score98138391
Geekbench (Single-core)14321601
Geekbench (Multi-core)49695609
3DMark (Sling Shot Extreme - OpenGL)10371348
3DMark (Sling Shot Extreme - Vulkan)9371064

Camera

When it comes to the camera, the Helio P70 sports the same specs as the Helio P60, which means that the triple image signal processor returns. The P70 can support up to a 24MP + 16MP dual camera array. If it's a single camera gig (which is a rarity these days), it can support a 32MP shooter. Besides, MediaTek has also introduced a high-resolution depth engine to enhance portraits. It's worth to be noted that this chipset brings AI facial detection, real-time HDR capture, and a faster shooting mode.
Following are some of the photos taken from the Helio P70-powered Realme U1.

Snapdragon 660 Powered Realme Pro 1
Snapdragon 660 Powered Realme Pro 2

Interestingly, Qualcomm has launched the duo of Qualcomm Clear Sight and Spectra 160 ISP chip. Both of these combine to give more light and less noise, and the Spectra 160 ISP chip brings in faster autofocus, accurate color reproduction along with zero shutter lag.
However, it remains to be seen how phone manufacturers employ these techniques on their camera modules. On the specs end, the Snapdragon 660 can support up to a 25-megapixel camera or two 16-megapixel cameras.
Following are some of the photos taken from the Snapdragon 660-powered Realme Pro.

Helio P70 Powered Realme U1 1
Helio P70 Powered Realme U1 2

Did you know? The ISP is responsible for important housekeeping jobs like controlling exposure, white balance, and autofocus.
We felt that the Realme U1 produced better and sharper images, with accurate color reproduction in normal light scenarios, with indoor images almost at par with each other.
But then again, let's not put this entirely on the mobile processors. Picture quality partly depends on how phone makers optimize the processor and partly on other hardware specifications like the lens they use.

Artificial Intelligence

The Helio P70 takes after the P60 when it comes to AI. It packs a dedicated multi-core Artificial Intelligence Processing Unit (AMU), which will find use in pose detection, automatic scene recognition, object identification, and facial recognition. This APU combines with the MediaTek NeuroPilot to deliver 10-30% more AI processing efficiency compared to its predecessor.

Snapdragon 660 Ai

The Snapdragon 660 comes with Qualcomm's Neural Processing Engine (NPE) software framework and Qualcomm's Artificial Intelligence Engine (AIE). The NPE is responsible for finding and assigning the right component such as CPU, DSP, or the GPU for AI-related tasks. Also, app developers can tap into this API for developing AI-related apps.
Also, both the chipsets support the common AI frameworks like TensorFlow, TF Lite, Caffe, and Caffe2.

The Battle of the Mid-Range Chips

For mid-range chipsets, both MediaTek Helio P70 and Snapdragon 660 pack a punch. Both are at par with each other with only marginal differences, as shown in the benchmark scores. On the graphics front, the Snapdragon 660 takes a slight step ahead, all thanks to the Adreno 512 GPU.
The Helio P70 appears to be an incremental update over the P60
The Snapdragon 660 marked a milestone since it was the first mid-range chipset to feature Kryo cores, which were otherwise only seen in the flagship processors. On the other hand, the Helio P70 appears to be an incremental update over the P60. Almost all the specs are identical except for the clocking speed, which gives the Helio P70 the much-needed advantage.
At the end of the day, that's all we need, right?

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Daily InfoTainment: The Battle of the Mid-Range Chips - MediaTek Helio P70 And Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 | Which is Better
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