The mobile SoC space is generational, just as the x86 space has been for ages. The ARM Cortex-A9 generation is still with us, with Cortex-A15 SoCs not expected to make their way to devices until 2013. But Qualcomm’s bespoke A15 competitor, Krait, is already with us, and the easy choice for top of the line handsets, particularly in the carrier driven US market. But this isn’t a top of the line handset, so Verizon ordered up the Incredible 4G clocked at 1.2 GHz instead of the S4’s full 1.5 GHz. So what does an underclocked S4 net you?

We’ll start with our more CPU intensive tests.

Linpack - Single-threaded

Linpack - Multi-threaded

SunSpider Javascript Benchmark 0.9.1 - Stock Browser

BrowserMark

Vellamo Overall Score

There’s a clear performance deficit relative to the other S4 devices on the market, though the S4 still outperforms many of the devices in our chart. The deficits are worst in the Linpack tests, though it’s unclear why they should exceed the 20% clock deficit. Rendering tests are within the expected deficit, though. What about GPU performance?

GLBenchmark 2.1 - Egypt

GLBenchmark 2.1 - Egypt - Offscreen (720p)

GLBenchmark 2.1 - Pro

GLBenchmark 2.1 - Pro - Offscreen (720p)

RightWare Basemark ES 2.0 V1 - Taiji

RightWare Basemark ES 2.0 V1 - Hoverjet

Our GPU tests are starting to show their age, with Vsync getting pegged for the duration of several of them. Even in the challenging offscreen GLBenchmark Egypt test we still see performance approaching 60 fps. Basemark’s Taiji and HoverJet tests typically favor Adreno GPUs, and this is no exception. So, while Rightware’s tests don’t help us stratify the Incredible 4G LTE against non-S4 handsets, it does clue us into something else. With performance that falls in line with the other S4 handsets, but below Vsync in Taiji, it’s almost certain that the GPU didn’t suffer the same clock penalty as the CPU. 

All this aside, there’s still the core issue of Ice Cream Sandwich’s UI performance. With the Galaxy Nexus running worlds more smoothly with Jelly Bean, despite last-gen internals, there’s something very compelling about it. Certainly Jelly Bean should have the potential to be just as smooth on other hardware when the update gets distributed, but with Verizon the eternal question is when that update will actually be distributed. For now, though, this is no better or worse than any other Android handset with similar internals. The UI is buttery smooth across home screens, but open up the gallery or app switcher and the lag isn’t just perceivable, it’s a nuisance. 

Display Software and Camera
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  • lunarx3dfx - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - link

    It will be interesting to see what happens with the new iPhone, but just like Mac vs. Windows, Google and Microsoft can only do so much to optimize for devices considering how varied they all are. Throw in some LTE radios and things get even more interesting. On that point though, I have a Galaxy Nexus and a Focus Flash, and I was completely impressed by the battery life Microsoft was able to squeeze out of Windows Phone. Of course, they restrict what SoC's manufacturers are allowed to use.

    As far as Android is concerned, I don't know which phone you have, but my Galaxy Nexus running the stock rom but rooted outlasts my girlfriends iPhone 4S in battery life. With Android devices, it has been my experience that battery life truly varies device to device.

    As far as UI responsiveness, Google started to fix that with ICS and have made it almost perfect if not perfect on Jellybean. However, you can't really blame them yet again for how laggy Android has been in the past considering the fact that hardware acceleration for the UI was pretty much not an option until ICS was released. Anything running ICS or higher has to be designed to a standard, meaning a GPU that can handle hardware acceleration.

    Microsoft and Google have a much more difficult task than Apple when it comes to designing, maintaining, and improving their mobile OSes because of how varied the hardware is. They don't have the option to optimize to the extent that Apple does. Considering that I think they have both done a fantastic job so far, and it is only getting better.
    Reply
  • sssbbb - Thursday, July 26, 2012 - link

    What's 3G? Reply
  • legoman666 - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - link

    How is that a $150 phone + 2 year contract is considered budget whereas a $200 phone + contract is not? The difference after 2 years is a whole $50 out of approximately $2300.

    Please stop ignoring the cost of contracts in your consideration.
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - link

    Doesn't he say clearly enough that the difference is just 50$, and this is not very much - from where ever you look at it. And that difference remains, whatever else you're spending on the phone, contract etc. Reply
  • tbutler - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - link

    Except that the contract cost is going to be the same no matter which phone you choose. So by reductio ad absurdum, phone cost should never matter, because it will always be a small fraction of the contract cost.... right?

    But, y'know, people do care about these things for some strange reason.
    Reply
  • bill4 - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - link

    With these absolute garbage Motorola and HTC droid phones-usually incredibly overpriced too boot-, being their "flagships".

    I mean this thing is pathetic by todays standards, 960X540? I'm not surprised it's overpriced too, Verizon phones always are. I'm actually shocked they only charge 199 for the GS3 instead of 299 like they usually charge for top phones, but I think they just didnt want to look horrible compared to the other carriers on that one, if they could have gotten away with it they probably would have priced the GS3 at 399 on contract.

    I still remember when Verizon had the "HTC Thunderbolt" and everybody thought it was so awesome, ATT got the same phone a little later called the inspire for $100 less and nobody cared, because ATT customers dont have nothing but garbage to choose from on a regular basis.. I think Verizon customers rival Apple for their love of being overcharged.

    Verizon is absolutely awful.
    Reply
  • danjw - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - link

    So Verizon made HTC nerf their version of the HTC One XL? Most of the benchmarks seem to come in worse then her counter parts on AT&T and Sprint. Epic fail Verizon! Reply
  • chrnochime - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - link

    I'd be happy with a 4" screen phone instead of something even larger. I don't use the phone to play games and nurture my fb page every 10 minutes like a lot of people do or even browse that often, so anything larger is just too bulky to carry around.

    Looks like I'd end up with an iphone, if there's nothing that's not huge running android in a few months...
    Reply
  • geniekid - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - link

    Too bad about the battery life. I really want a 4 to 4.3" phone, but form is secondary to battery life for me. As it stands, I'll probably give up one-handed usability for battery life by getting the SGS3. Reply
  • amdwilliam1985 - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - link

    One-handed usability with SGS3 is very possible. Don't get fool by the Apple cool-aids about 3.5" one-handed and >3.5" 2-handed.
    I'm surprise to see a lot of girls in the NYC subway using SGS3 with 1 hand, if they can do it you can too. It just takes some time to get use to it. But once you got used to it, you can't look at or type on a puny 3.5" anymore. Trust me, I went from 3.5"(iPhone 3gs) to 4.5"(TMobile SGS2) and I can't go back anymore.
    Reply

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