The Apple A4 chipset was introduced to the world in April 2010 with the original iPad, and it soon manifested itself in the Apple iPhone 4 as well. At that point in time, this was the fastest processor for smartphones that was available, and it was capable of producing high quality graphics with impressive clocking speeds. Dual-core processors soon started hitting the market though, and the A4 chipset has become a chipset of the past. Apple's new A5 chipset has now been released with the iPad 2, and its dual-core sibling will soon be seen on the Apple iPhone 5 as well.
The Snapdragon chipset is manufactured by Qualcomm, and this is an entire family of chipsets that are used in smartphones, tablets and other devices as well. Both the A4 and the Snapdragon are what are known as SoC, or System on Chips, since they contain processors and graphical processing units as well. This is why they are referred to as chipsets.
Apple A4 Vs. Snapdragon Processor
The processor on the A4 chip is the ARM Cortex-A8 core, and this is very similar to the processor that is present on the Snapdragon chipset as well. This processor on the Snapdragon is known as the Scorpion, and its design is very similar, but its multimedia performance is much better than the A4.
Both of these chipsets clock speeds of 1GHz, so their level of performance is very closely related. Moreover, while the A4 chipset has a PowerVR SGX535 GPU, the Snapdragon comes with what is known as the Adreno GPU, and this is something that is manufactured by them. The Apple A4, on the other hand, was designed and developed by Samsung.
Some benchmarking tests that have been carried out by industry experts show that the Apple A4 is around 30 - 40% faster than the Snapdragon, when it comes to loading webpages. While this is a major advantage for the A4, the fact is that the multimedia performance and the graphical output of the Snapdragon is better than the A4 (which means that the Adreno GPU is more effective than the PowerVR SGX535 GPU). The differences in the architecture of the different chipsets is what leads to these differences in performance, and the fact is that the amount of RAM present in the devices that use these chipsets and other factors also come into play.
Qualcomm is now manufacturing 1.5GHz Snapdragon processors as well, and these will be seen in Android based smartphones and tablets. Moreover, these will be dual-core processors, so one can expect major upgrades in the loading time for websites and other multimedia activities.
Even Apple's new A5 chipset seems like a worthy upgrade over the A4, especially now that it is manufactured by Apple themselves, and not Samsung. The graphical performance of the iPad 2 is nine times that of the original iPad, so you can see the rate at which this technology is progressing now. The Apple iPhone 5 will soon have a dual-core A5 SoC, so you can expect even faster web loading speeds on this device.
When it comes to the high-end market regarding processors for mobile devices, the A4 chip (and the A5 chip) and the Qualcomm Snapdragon are the best of the bunch. The Samsung Hummingbird is another 1GHz SoC that was first seen on the Samsung Galaxy S, and these processor chipsets are the future. When you compare these devices with the computers from a few years ago, you will find them to be thrice as powerful and speedy, and the fact is that the only way this technology is going is upwards.