The Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 is arguably the fastest chipset for 2021 and early 2022, that’s why it’s the go-to processor for many flagship and gaming phones. Starting with Xiaomi’s Mi 11 series, smartphone makers have adopted this chipset as the core of their hardware. In general, Snapdragon 888 phones have improved AI capability, better photography, and clock speed processing power, among others. However, actual performance will still depend on how successful the manufacturers were able to utilize the potential of the chipset. In this article, we have narrowed down the options for the best Snapdragon 888 phones.
Inside this Article
- What’s in Snapdragon 888?
- The Best Snapdragon 888 Phones
- MediaTek vs Qualcomm
- Time to Get a Snapdragon 888 Phone
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 is an ARM chipset which makes it the core hardware of any device it is installed to. Acting as the brain of your phone, it is separated into two main parts: the CPU, which handles most of your phone’s calculations, and the GPU in charge of visual processing. The Snapdragon 888 is powered by an octa-core CPU setup with a main 2.84 GHz Cortex-X1, three 2.4Ghz Cortex-A78s, and four 1.8 GHz Cortex-A55 cores. Its GPU, meanwhile, is the Adreno 660 with Vulkan 1.1, DirectX 12, OpenGL ES 3.2, and OpenCL 2.0FP compatibility.
Aside from the chipset’s speed, the Snapdragon 888 is unique due to the suite of features integrated with it. As we said earlier, Snapdragon 888-equipped phones have a lot of built-in features like 5G, Quick Charge 5, Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi 6 and 6E, advanced camera support including up to 200MP single-shot capture, Triple 24MP shots without shutter lag, HDR video, and H.265 and VP9 video decoders.
We have chosen a good array of Snapdragon 888 phones to choose from, including the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, the OnePlus 9 Pro, and the Xiaomi Mi 11T Pro. To help you choose between these phones, we will list down a few of their important features like screen size and type, Android OS version, maximum offered ROM and RAM, whether you can expand its memory, and battery capacity.
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Samsung’s 2021 flagship phone, the Galaxy S21 Ultra, is our top pick for the best performing phone with the Snapdragon 888. Equipped with a Dynamic AMOLED 6.8-inch screen, a maximum of 512GB of storage space, 16GB RAM, and a sizable 5000mAh battery, the S21 Ultra 5G can stand up to whatever you can throw at, be it massive video conferences, games, or video editing. Along with these hardware specs, the S21 Ultra 5G also has stylus pen support and AKG tuned audio. Those who want the very best will want for nothing with the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G.
A word of warning to potential buyers, though. Be sure that you are getting the US/China version of this smartphone since the “International” version is equipped with Samsung’s in-house Exynos 2100 chipset instead of the Snapdragon 888.
The OnePlus 9 Pro is not just one of the Snapdragon 888 phones, it’s also the best OnePlus phone so far. It has a lot of advantages compared to its predecessors. Aside from the Snapdragon 888 chipset, the 9 Pro also has a lot of premium features, including its Hasselblad Quad Camera system.
Although we think that its daylight performance is underwhelming, OnePlus has done it right when it comes to lowlight photography. You’ll get a good amount of detail and fairly impressive color calibration with this one at night time. Other advanced features include its 65W fast charging, taking only 29 minutes to fully fill the 4500 mAh battery.
Although not as famous as the smartphone big shots like Samsung or Google, OnePlus really did not settle and offers one of the better Snapdragon 888 phones with a focus on quality and price.
Our best value phone with Snapdragon 888 is the Xiaomi 11T Pro due to its wonderful ranking between features and affordability. While not as fully decked out, or more accurately, camera-rich as the mainline Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, due to lacking the two 48MP cameras for ultrawide and periscope photos, the Xiaomi 11T Pro is more than made up for it with its lowered cost and lighter weight. The equipment on this phone is enough to let it duke with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G in terms of price, features, and processing speed.
Aside from sharing the same Snapdragon 888 chipset, Xiaomi has done a little tweaking of their own as they ramped up the fast charging feature to 120W, assuring you can charge your phone to 100% in as little as 17 minutes. This charging feature may be due to the 11T Pro’s Li-Po battery, a more robust alternative to the more common Li-ion type batteries. A Dolby Vision screen, combined with fast charging and the Snapdragon 888, the 11T Pro is a beast that would not chew through your wallet.
The Sony Xperia 1 III stocked with Snapdragon 888 is coincidentally what we consider as the best Sony phone in the market right now. While it may not have the camera quality of our best choice Snapdragon 888 phone, the Xperia 1 III beats the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra in two specific niches.
The first is its addition of a microSD expansion slot that lets users add as much storage memory as they can cram in. Its second advantage is more of a niche requirement as multipoint Bluetooth headsets become more popular, but the Xperia 1 III’s inclusion of a 3.5mm audio jack is a boon to audiophiles still using their wired headsets. Aside from these advantages, the Sony Xperia 1 III also has a more detailed screen and faster charging times.
The only dedicated gaming phone on this list of Snapdragon 888 phones, the Asus ROG Phone 5S Pro is mobile gaming’s first go-to smartphone. Equipped with the boosted Snapdragon 888+ chipset, this upgrades its main Kryo 680 core to awe-inspiring 2.99 GHz speeds while its three and four sub-cores are boosted to 2.4GHz and 1.80Ghz, respectively.
Aside from this powerhouse of CPU processing, the ROG Phone 5S Pro also has the highest RAM size on this list, with 18GB worth and a sizable 6000 mAh Li-Po battery to power it. While it does have a small secondary PMOLED display on the back, it does not use that much power as the phone can still be charged to 100% in just 52 minutes, thanks to its 65W fast charging feature.
If you play hardcore games on your phone a lot, you would do yourself a favor by getting the Asus ROG Phone 5S Pro.
For our sixth Snapdragon 888 phone pick, we chose the Snapdragon 888+ equipped Vivo X70 Pro Plus. Vivo may not be that popular as a brand in the US, but it is quickly becoming one of the biggest smartphone companies in China and Southeast Asia. Bearing its fangs against other Chinese giants like Huawei and Xiaomi, Vivo’s X70 Pro Plus has enough specs for the fight.
Equipped with an enormous 512GB memory and 12GB of RAM along with the Snapdragon 888+, the X70 Pro Plus has an impressive performance across the board. The main 50MP may not be able to go against the Mi 11T Pro and Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G’s 108MP main cameras, but its secondary 8MP, 12MP, and 48MP cameras more than make up for it and still give wonderful photos.
The main downside to the Vivo X70 Pro Plus is their customer service. Due to being a mostly Asian brand, it does not have a strong customer support base in the US which may be a big problem when technical difficulties arise as parts of the phone start to fail or get damaged.
Another Asian giant, Oppo’s flagship phone for 2021 was the Find X3 Pro. It has slightly similar specs with the Vivo X70 Pro Plus, but Find X3 Pro wins in terms of the camera. It does a good job on both daylight and low light settings, with excellent color consistency that is reminiscent of iPhones. The novelty 3MP snapper also does amazingly when shooting microscope-like photos.
Find X3 Pro’s 65W fast charging capability that can charge from 0% to 40% in just 10 minutes is also something to adore.
However, while we would have wanted to bring the Find X3 Pro higher on this list against the Vivo X70 Pro Plus, finding the 512GB/16GB model is a bit of a chore. Most stores only offer the 256GB/12GB version of X3 Pro, which is more expensive than Vivo X70 Pro Plus’s 512GB/ 12GB model.
ZTE does not actually have that much pull internationally, so focuses on its sub-brands instead. In the case of 6S Pro, ZTE used the Red Magic brand. The 6S Pro, also called the ZTE Nubia Red Magic 6S Pro, is the eighth Snapdragon 888 phone on this list.
This phone has a weird combination of older and high-tech features mixed in for a medium-range flagship smartphone as it has a nice 6.8-inch display that only outputs 1080 x 2400 pixels, a triple camera arrangement instead of the now popular quad camera, a 3.5mm audio jack port, and a large 5050 mAh Li-Po battery.
While it is still a beast of a machine with its boosted Snapdragon 888+ chipset, it faces the same problems as the previous two phones. These problems are the scarcity of sellers offering the 512GB/18GB model with the 256GB/16GB model being more popular, technical support, and customer service problems.
The only truly economically focused phone on this list, the GT 5G, comes from the budget-focused Realme brand. Originally created as the budget phone sub-brand of OPPO, Realme has since gone independent but continues to focus on affordable yet reliable phones. You can see this focus on the GT 5G with a mix of older technologies added onto the high-tech Snapdragon 888 chipset.
Realme GT’s selling point does not end with the inclusion of Snapdragon 888; it also has good snappers in the mix. While we won’t sell it as a flagship-grade, Realme GT can take photos with enough detail, balanced exposure, and excellent contrast.
Realme GT also has Dolby dual speakers in it, a modest 4500 mAh Li-Po battery, and plenty of connectivity options. Altogether, they make Realme GT the flagship killer that it boldly claims to be.
Capping our best Snapdragon 888 phones list is the Huawei P50 Pro. Without going into the details of modern geopolitics, we have to say that the P50 Pro has been severely crippled by trade restrictions placed on them. Facing even worse problems than the previous Huawei P40, the P50 Pro may use the Snapdragon 888 chipset, but it does not have 5G connectivity.
Another problem with this phone is the complete lack of Google services. Despite the many things that bring P50 Pro down, there are also many reasons to love this device — starting with the premium design. Huawei has also once again raised the bar higher for its cameras with its all-new Leica snappers with a unique dual-circle setup.
Unless you are in the US, the Huawei P50 Pro is hard to give a pass.
When comparing the Snapdragon 888 with its main rival, MediaTek’s Dimensity 1200, you would notice the Dimensity 1200’s main core speed of 3.0 GHz. While it is faster, the 888 still comes out on top with its improved 5nn chip process that needs less power, outputs less heat, has an increased optimization for apps and games, a superior ARMv84.-A instruction set, and Qualcomm’s generally product quality.
Overall, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 and the boosted Snapdragon 888+ are some of the best chipsets for Android phones in the market right now, at least until more smartphone manufacturers release smartphones integrated with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, like the expected Samsung Galaxy S22.
Hopefully, you found a good Snapdragon 888 phone to your liking. Nonetheless, do remember that while we do talk about how Snapdragon 888 phones are the best in the market right now, these may not necessarily be the best ones for you since these phones are aimed more at users who need the cutting edge. For casual smartphone users, you might want to learn how to discern the best mobile phone for your lifestyle instead. If you are more interested in accessories, however, you might want to look at our guide to choosing the best mobile accessories instead.