With the launch of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9, I wrote a scathing comparison of the new MediaTek Helio G85 with its pitiful 50Mhz difference in GPU frequencies compared to the existing, unimpressive, Helio G80.

If we ignore my belief that the MediaTek Helio G85 is just a marketing stunt by announcing a brand-new chipset and look at how the chipset performs compared to the previous generation and other options, things look a little more positive.

 The MediaTek Helio G85 on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 replaces the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 on the Redmi Note 8 and this should represent a significant performance bump.

To pad out the comparison, I have looked at the Snapdragon 675 & SD 712, which are both older chipsets found on affordable phones. Then the Snapdragon 720G which is used on the Redmi Note 9 Pro and should represent a significant performance bump vs the Helio G85.

Specification Comparison

MediaTek Helio G85 vs Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 vs Snapdragon 675 vs SD 712 vs SD 720G

 MediaTek Helio G85 Snapdragon 665Snapdragon 675 Snapdragon 712Snapdragon 720G
Process12 nm11nm LPP 11nm LPP10nm LPP8nm LPP
CPU Cores Octa-Core, 64-bit Octa-Core, 64-bit Octa-Core, 64-bit Octa-Core, 64-bit Octa-Core, 64-bit
CPU4x Arm Cortex A75 @ 2.0 GHz
4x Cortex-A55 @ 1.5 GHz
4x Kryo 260 (CA73) @ 2.0GHz
4x Kryo 260 (CA53) @ 1.8GHz
2x Kryo 460 (CA76) @ 2.0GHz
6x Kryo 460 (CA55) @ 1.8GHz
2x Kryo 360 (CA75) @ 2.2GHz
6x Kryo 360 (CA55) @ 1.7GHz
2x Kryo 470 (CA76) @ 2.3GHz

6x Kryo 470 (CA55) @ 1.8GHz
GPUArm Mali-G52 MC2 @ 1000MhzAdreno 610 Adreno 612Adreno 616Adreno 618
Antutu205946167866218535216501282336

CPU

The MediaTek Helio G85 has a CPU specification identical to the Helio G80 with:

  • 2x Arm Cortex A75 @ 2.0 GHz
  • 6x Cortex-A55 @ 1.5 GHz

This represents a significant upgrade to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 which was used on the older Note 8 which has:

  • 4x Kryo 260 (Arm Cortex A73) @ 2.0GHz
  • 4x Kryo 260 (Arm Cortex A53) @ 1.8GHz

The Snapdragon 675 is getting on a little, but is still used in phones this year, and could have been a viable alternative to the G85. This has:

  • 2x Kryo 460 (CA76) @ 2.0GHz
  • 6x Kryo 460 (CA55) @ 1.8GHz

The Snapdragon 712, which is used on the Realme 5 Pro has:

  • 2x Kryo 360 (CA75) @ 2.3GHz
  • 6x Kryo 360 (CA55) @ 1.7GHz

Finally, the Snapdragon 720G which is used on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 and Realme 6 Pro has:

  • 2x Kryo 470 (CA76) @ 2.3GHz
  • 6x Kryo 470 (CA55) @ 1.8GHz

So the Helio G85 does look good when you compare it to the Redmi Note 8 from last year, but it fails to compete with any of the other options.

Qualcomm has the edge with their fabrication process too, the SD665 and SD675 are made on the 11nm fabrication process, then the SD712 drops to 10NM and the new SD720G is on the 8NM process. MediaTek uses 12nm on all their Helio chipsets – during my testing phones with these have still done well with the battery, though this is helped by the large batteries Xiaomi and Realme use.

GPU

Comparing GPUs is a little harder because Qualcomm uses their own Andreno GPU while Meditek uses the ARM Mali GPUs.

As a reminder, the MediaTek Helio G85 uses the Arm Mali-G52 MC2 found on the G70 and G80 however this is now clocked at 1000Mhz vs 950Mhz on the G80 and 820Mhz on the G70.

For Qualcomm, you have:

  • Snapdragon 665 – Adreno 610    
  • Snapdragon 675 – Adreno 612
  • Snapdragon 712 – Adreno 616
  • Snapdragon 720G -m Adreno 618

Benchmarks – Antutu – Geekbench – 3D Mark

Antutu BenchmarksTotal ScoreCPUGPUMEMUX
Realme 6 – Helio G90T29064497549810585554756490
Realme 6 Pro – SD720G282336104143708015227355119
Realme X2 – SD735G25831198328675744794544464
Realme 5 Pro – SD71221650173459618724201339157
Xiaomi Redmi Note 9205946
Realme 6i – Helio G8020129973376416334519241098
Realme 5 SD66516786671157334893656826652

We only have one benchmark supplied by  Xiaomi for the Note 9, and this has the phone scoring 205946 in Antutu. This puts the phone 2% higher than the score I achieved with the G80 on the Realme 6i.

However, the Snapdragon 665 managed 167866, so the Redmi Note 9 sees a 22% improvement moving from the SD665 on the Note 8.

Looking at the G85 on the Note 9 vs the SD720G on the Note 9 Pro, the SD720G scores 37% higher with  282336.

Redmi are touting this as a phone for everyday gamers, which is an ambiguous term. We don’t have an official benchmark, but considering the 5% difference in GPU frequency and the 2% difference in Antutu scores, I would say the G80 and G85 perform very similar.

 Slingshot Extreme OpenGL Vulkan
Huawei P40 Lite - Kirin 82041313873
TCL 10 5G - Snapdragon 765G 33313113
Realme X50 - Snapdragon 765G 33083098
Oppo Find X2 Lite - Snapdragon 765G 3415 3025

In my testing of the Realme 6i, I managed 1344 in the Slingshot OpenGL and 1327 in the Vulcan test.

This is not a good score, but it is much higher than the SD665 which managed 1090 and 1061 which is a 23% and 25% improvement.

It also comfortable outperforms the Snapdragon 675, which I have tested recently. However, it falls behind in compared to the other Qualcomm chipsets.

Alternative Options

Pricing for the new Redmi Note 9 starts at $199/€183/£159 for the 3/64GB model, the Redmi Note 9 Pro is expected to be 6/64GB trim is $269/€247/£214.

Assuming the prices get converted to £ properly at £159 there is not much competition with the Redmi Note 9. The Realme 6i is £189, and at that price, you may as well get the Note 9 Pro, Realme 6 or Note 8 Pro.

Moving away from Xiaomi and Realme, there is nothing competing in terms of specification at this price. The recently launched Motorola Moto G8 Power Lite costs £179 and features an Helio P35 with a 16 MP primary camera and no ultrawide.

Overall

I wasn’t particularly impressed with the MediaTek Helio G80 when I reviewed the Realme 6i, and this, therefore, means I am not a big fan of the MediaTek Helio G85. It is not so much that I think it is a bad chipset, it is that the pricing is too close to the Realme 6 to justify losing out on all the performance of the Helio G90T.

The same could be said here, but there is a broader difference in pricing, which justifies the Helio G85 a little more. With a £55/$70 price gap that represents a 35% increase moving from the Note 9 to the Note 9 Pro.

If you can afford that extra £55 then I would strongly urge you to opt for the Redmi Note 9 Pro over the Note 9. You will be rewarded with a significantly better-performing phone along with a much better camera.

Of course, if you can’t afford the extra cash, the Redmi Note 9 will be a perfectly decent phone, and it should be a significant improvement over the Note 8 it replaces.

Last update on 2020-12-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API