Discussion: What do you think will be the best processor for 2021’s flagship killers?

Discussion: What do you think will be the best processor for 2021’s flagship killers?

Snapdragon 870, Dimensity 1200, and Exynos 1080 are leading contenders

OnePlus spearheaded its way into the smartphone market by introducing a “flagship killer.” Alien to the industry at first, the idea of a specs-heavy smartphone without some of the premium features hit home with many smartphone manufacturers, especially the ones seeking recognition in the premium segments of the market. Over the years, these flagship killers have successfully been able to seize a share of the market from premium and much more expensive devices, thus proving the designation correct.

After smartphone manufacturers, chipmakers are making chipsets for flagship killers. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 870, MediaTek Dimensity 1100 and Dimensity 1200, and the Exynos 1080 mobile platforms serve exactly that purpose, and we feel these could help bring a balance between performance and cost for flagship killers of 2021. Do you agree?


Snapdragon 870 is a hopped-up Snapdragon 865 Plus

Qualcomm recently announced the Snapdragon 870 and marketed it as a new processor designed especially for 2021 smartphones. In reality, it is nothing but the second turbocharged version of the Snapdragon 865 after the Snapdragon 865 Plus. Due to the older microarchitecture, the Snapdragon 870 lags behind the Snapdragon 888 in terms of performance.

But at the same time, it will be cheaper for OEMs to procure and use in their flagship killers, and therefore, bring the cost of the smartphone down with the trade off of slightly lower performance. OnePlus 9 Lite, Redmi K40, and Motorola’s flagship Moto G are some of the devices expected to be powered by the Snapdragon 870.

MediaTek Dimensity 1100 and Dimensity 1200, and the battle of the spin-offs

The newly announced Dimensity 1100 and 1200 processors are being projected to propel Taiwanese chip manufacturer, MediaTek, back into the race of mobile chipmakers where it has traditionally trailed behind. With a 6nm design and ARM’s Cortex-A78 cores, the latest Dimensity chips are expected to offer performance on par with — or even better than — the Snapdragon 870 which still uses custom Kryo 585 cores based on ARM’s Cortex-A77 reference design.

Xiaomi’s spin-off Redmi and OPPO’s spin-off Realme are already planning to launch flagship killers with the Dimensity 1200.

Samsung Exynos 1080, the overpowered underdog

Samsung’s reputation as a straggler is destined to change with the new Exynos 2100 that was launched with the Galaxy S21 series to give Snapdragon 888 a run for its money. Meanwhile, the younger sibling — Exynos 1080 — is set to challenge chipsets in the upper mid-range with a 5nm design and ARM’s Cortex-A78 cores.

Samsung has already announced an alliance with Vivo, which will announce a phone running on Exynos 1080.

Can flagship killers compromise on performance?

While flagship killers have traditionally run the most advanced, top-tier flagship processors, some brands have also tried different approaches like showing ads, throttling performance, or using the previous year’s flagship chipset to keep prices under a check. With mandatory 5G adding to the cost of the smartphones, slightly underpowered chips actually make up for good choices for flagship killers. But can a phone be a flagship killer if it isn’t sporting a flagship chipset in the first place?

Do you think a slight compromise in performance is worth the access to 5G and a relatively great package? Or do you always want the absolutely most powerful chipset on the next flagship killer, even if it pushes the phone outside the “flagship killer” pricing? Let us know in the comments below!

About author

Tushar Mehta
Tushar Mehta

I am a Senior Editor at XDA. I have been reviewing gadgets for over five years and gained experience by working for prominent tech publications in India before joining XDA. I enjoy fiddling with all smart objects and my love for software customization dates back to the Symbian S60 days. I like to devote my spare time idealizing the romantic union of technology and philosophy or spacing out on Pink Floyd. You may email me at [email protected]

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