After the announcement of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, all eyes are on Qualcomm and whether it can finally beat Apple in the chip race. The Apple A17 Pro was released a month ago, and now that we have the latest flagship chip from Qualcomm, it is time to pit them against each other. In this comparison between the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 and A17 Pro, we compare their performance improvements in CPU, GPU, NPU, ISP, Modem, and more.
We have also included Geekbench benchmarks for both the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 and Apple A17 Pro. So without wasting any time, let’s go through the in-depth comparison.
|Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
|Apple A17 Pro
|Octa-core, Kryo CPU
|Six-core CPU, 19 billion transistors
|1x 3.3GHz (Cortex-X4)
3x 3.2GHz (Cortex-A720)
2x 3.0GHz (Cortex-A720)
2x 2.3GHz (Cortex-A520)
|2x 3.78 GHz High-performance cores
4x 2.11GHz High-efficiency cores
|TSMC’s 4nm process
|TSMC’s 3nm process (N3B)
|New Adreno GPU (750?)
Unreal Engine Global Illumination
|Apple Pro-class 6-core GPU
Hardware-accelerated Ray Tracing
|LPDDR5X, up to 4.8GHz
|Machine Learning and AI
|New Hexagon AI Engine
|16-core Neural Engine; 35 TOPS
|New Cognitive ISP
|Apple-designed Image Signal Processor
|Semantic Segmentation up to 12 layers
Dual Camera experience
Dolby HDR Capture
|ProRAW photos at 48MP
|Night Vision for Darker scenes
|4K60 ProRes videos
Spatial video recording
4K HDR Dolby Vision @ 60FPS
|Snapdragon X75 5G modem
Up to 10 Gbps Peak Download
Up to 3.5 Gbps Peak Upload
|Snapdragon X70 5G modem
Up to 10 Gbps Peak Download
Up to 3.5 Gbps Peak Upload
|Bluetooth 5.4, LE Audio
Dual Bluetooth Antenna
|AV1 Codec Support
Pro display engine
CPU: 8-Cores vs 6-Cores
Let’s first compare the CPU on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 and Apple A17 Pro. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is fabricated on TSMC’s 4nm process node and has an octa-core design. It is using upgraded Kryo cores, but in terms of core cluster design, Qualcomm has done something different this year. The American chip maker has used a single prime core (Cortex-X4 clocked at 3.3GHz), 3x Cortex-A720 cores clocked at 3.2GHz, 2x Cortex-A720 cores clocked slightly below at 3.0GHz, and 2x Cortex-A520 cores clocked at 2.3GHz.
It’s using a total of five Cortex-A720 cores, all clocked at 3.0GHz and above. The Cortex-A520 cores have been reduced to just two cores. It seems ARM’s performance cores have gotten good at both performance and efficiency. Qualcomm states the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is 30% faster and 20% more efficient than its predecessor, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.
Moving to the Apple A17 Pro, it’s built on TSMC’s 3nm process node, which allows Apple to pack more than 19 billion transistors on a single die. Unlike 8Gen3’s 8-core CPU, the A17 Pro has a 6-core CPU with 2x high-performance cores clocked at a mighty 3.78GHz and 4x high-efficiency cores clocked at 2.11GHz. From the CPU cluster design, you can gauge that Apple has an impressive big core that has a max frequency much higher than the Cortex-X4.
A17 Pro is bound to score much higher than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 in single-core tests. However, in multi-core tests, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 scores higher than the A17 Pro, as it appears from Qualcomm’s official figures mentioned below. That said, keep in mind, Qualcomm is using eight cores whereas Apple manages to cross the 7K mark with just six cores. Apple truly has incredible CPU cores with exceptional performance and efficiency.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 vs A17 Pro: Benchmarks
In a leaked Geekbench 6 listing of the upcoming Xiaomi 14, which is powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, it scores 2207 in the single-core test and 7494 in the multi-core test. As noted in our Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 benchmark article, Qualcomm’s Reference device scored 2329 in the single-core test and 7501 in the multi-core test.
In comparison, the A17 Pro scores 2897 in single-threaded tasks and 7261 in multi-threaded tasks. For the first time, Qualcomm has managed to outrank Apple in the multi-core CPU test. With Oryon cores next year, the upcoming Snapdragon chip might beat Apple in single-core test as well, hopefully with fewer cores.
SoC Single-core (Geekbench 6) Multi-core (Geekbench 6) Apple A17 Pro 2897 7261 Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 (Qualcomm’s QRD Device) 2329 7501 Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 (Leaked) 2207 7494
In the AnTuTu benchmark, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 has scored a whopping 2139281 points, crossing the 2 million mark. In comparison, the A17 Pro manages to score just 1628672 points on the AnTuTu test.
|Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
In the 3DMark WildLife test which evaluates the GPU’s performance, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3’s powerful new Adreno GPU redefines what is possible on a mobile GPU. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 scores 5338 points with 32 FPS in the intensive WildLife Extreme test whereas the A17 Pro scores 4075 points with 24.4 FPS.
In the 3DMark Solar Bay test which tests ray-tracing capability, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 again takes the lead with a score of 8547 points and 32 FPS. In contrast, the A17 Pro scores 6594 points with 25.1 FPS. Qualcomm has again proved that there is no match for its Adreno GPU in the market right now.
SoC 3DMark Wildlife Extreme 3DMark Solar Bay Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 5338 score / 32 FPS 8547 score / 32 FPS A17 Pro 4075 score / 24.4 FPS 6594 score / 25.1 FPS
GPU: Is Adreno 750 Better?
In the graphics department, the latest Adreno 750 GPU on the 8 Gen 3 has gotten a nice upgrade this year and most importantly, it has become even more efficient. As per Qualcomm, the new Adreno GPU is 25% more powerful & 25% more efficient than last year’s 8 Gen 2 chipset. The Adreno 740 GPU on 8 Gen2 has already matched Apple’s GPU performance at a much lower power. And now with the performance bump and efficiency, the new Adreno GPU is likely to deliver better results.
Apart from that, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 now supports the Unreal Engine 5 Lumen system with Global Illumination. It will result in better and more accurate reflections, similar to console-level graphics. Besides that, the Adreno GPU supports HW-accelerated Ray Tracing and has introduced a new Adreno Frame Motion Engine (AFME 2.0) to upscale 60FPS graphics to 120FPS in real-time. Not to forget, it brings support for a 240Hz display so 240FPS gaming won’t be a problem on Snapdragon 8 Gen 3.
Apple, on the other hand, moved to a 6-core GPU design with the A17 Pro based on the new Shader architecture. Apple has also brought hardware-accelerated Ray Tracing support to make the gameplay console-level. You can play AAA games like Resident Evil Village, Death Stranding, Assassin’s Creed Mirage, etc. on your latest iPhone 15 Pro models. Similar to Snapdragon’s AFME, Apple has brought MetalFX Upscaling to boost the frame rate on the A17 Pro.
That said, many tests point out that the new 6-core GPU falls short in terms of efficiency. It draws close to 11W of power to match the peak performance of the older 8 Gen 2’s Adreno 740 GPU. Geekerwan on his YouTube channel measured the power consumption of 8 Gen 3’s new Adreno GPU on Xiaomi 14 and A17 Pro’s 6-core GPU on iPhone 15 Pro. The results showed that the A17 Pro’s GPU peaks at 10.9 W whereas the Adreno GPU scores higher at just 8.2W.
In both performance and efficiency, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3’s Adreno GPU is better than the A17 Pro’s 6-core GPU. We need to use both devices extensively and check real-life performances, but so far it seems like Qualcomm has outranked Apple again.
AI and Neural Engine Upgrades
Qualcomm has done a fantastic job this year to bring generative AI capabilities to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. It has built a new Hexagon AI Engine that is 98% faster and 40% more efficient than the previous-generation NPU. Qualcomm says its new AI Engine can run AI models locally and generate up to 20 tokens per second.
The new Hexagon NPU can run 3B to 13B AI models on the device and deliver a private and personalized experience. It has partnered with Meta to use its Llama 2 model commercially on 8 Gen 3-powered devices. Apart from that, you can run other AI models optimized for the Snapdragon platform.
Besides that, in terms of image synthesis, the Hexagon AI co-processor can generate images in less than one second which is quite impressive. Qualcomm says its NPU can also process multi-modal data using the CPU, GPU, NPU, fast memory, and Qualcomm Sensing Hub to offer a personalized AI experience.
Apple has also done a remarkable job with the A17 Pro in the AI and ML department. Its 16-core Neural Engine now offers 2x better performance than the previous-generation AI engine. It can effectively perform 35 trillion operations per second (TOPS), which is surely amazing. We don’t know the TOPS figure of the 8 Gen 3, but the Hexagon AI Engine on the Snapdragon X Elite, Qualcomm’s latest chip designed for PCs, can perform 45 TOPS.
Qualcomm has again said that both platforms have different AI Engines so yeah, we can’t compare both numbers. However, it seems like both Apple and Qualcomm are fighting neck and neck in the race to become the hardware platform to run AI models.
ISP and Camera Features
Snapdragon 8 Gen 3’s ISP has become pretty smart this year. Qualcomm is calling it Cognitive ISP which can perform real-time semantic segmentation up to 12 layers. It can isolate the subjects and various scenes from the image and apply accurate colors to match the scene. Other than that, it can remove objects from captured videos, expand captured photos using AI, boost the brightness and clarity in dark videos using Night Vision AI, and much more.
Along with that, you get simultaneous front and back camera support to record your vlogging experience. Qualcomm has also brought Dolby HDR photo capture which has over 1 billion shades of color, in comparison to JPEG’s 16.7 shades of color.
Moving to A17 Pro’s ISP, well, you can shoot 4K 60FPS ProRes videos, ProRAW images, and even Spatial videos which can be viewed on the Apple Vision Pro. It has a capable ISP that works in tandem with the Photonic Engine to offer sharp and accurate images. Overall, both ISPs are quite powerful, but 8 Gen 3’s AI-infused ISP makes a case for itself.
On the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, Qualcomm is using its in-house Snapdragon X75 5G modem. It delivers peak download speeds of up to 10Gbps and upload speeds of up to 3.5Gbps. For local connectivity, it’s equipped with Wi-Fi 7, Bluetooth 5.4, and LE.
Apple A17 Pro uses Qualcomm’s X70 5G modem, however, it’s a discrete modem whereas the 8 Gen 3 has an integrated modem in place. Along with that, you will get Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 support. So in terms of connectivity, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 and A17 Pro are on almost equal footing.
The Verdict: Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 or A17 Pro?
Looking at the on-paper specs, it looks like the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 has received significant upgrades in all aspects. While it can’t beat the Apple A17 Pro in single-threaded CPU tasks, in multi-core CPU tasks, it has breached Apple’s fortress. Add an efficient GPU, powerhouse AI Engine, AI-powered ISP, latest connectivity options, and you get an overall great package.
Having said that, we need to perform more tests and monitor real-life performance to fully conclude our judgment. So stay tuned as we bring you more benchmark figures for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. Meanwhile, you can go through our comparison of the Apple A17 Pro vs Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and share your opinion in the comment section below.