SoC Performance

While we’re ready to move on to newer benchmarks for 2016, our system performance benchmarks from 2015 are still going to provide a pretty good idea for what to expect from the Galaxy S7 and Snapdragon 820 by extension. For those that are unfamiliar with what the Snapdragon 820 is, I’d reference our previous articles on the Snapdragon 820.

In essence, we’re looking at a 2x2 CPU configuration with 2.15 GHz Kryo cores for the performance cluster, and 1.6 GHz Kryo cores for the efficiency cluster. Binding the two clusters together are some power aware scheduling at the kernel level and a custom interconnect to handle coherency between the two clusters. Memory is also improved relative to the Snapdragon 810, with a bump to LPDDR4-1866 over the former's LPDDR4-1600. Of course, there's a lot more to talk about here, but for now we can simply look at how the Snapdragon 820 compares in our benchmarks.

Update: As we've had a few questions on the subject, I just want to clarify browser testing. Samsung's stock browser was not included with our Verizon-branded sample phone, nor is it possible to install it at this time. As a result we are unable to test the performance of Samsung's browser. The Verge reports that this is a Verizon decision and that all Verizon phones will be shipping like this; so for these phones Chrome is the de-facto stock browser.

Kraken 1.1 (Chrome/Safari/IE)

Google Octane v2  (Chrome/Safari/IE)

WebXPRT 2015 (Chrome/Safari/IE)

Starting off with our web benchmarks, we can see that in the time since our initial testing of the Snapdragon 820 MDP there have been some major improvements to how well Chrome is optimized for Kryo. As a result we're seeing results that are almost comparable to Snapdragon Browser in Chrome.

Overall then the Galaxy S7 and its Snapdragon 820 SoC won't top the charts on web benchmarks - Apple still holds an edge here - however the Galaxy S7 puts up a solid fight. The one drawback here is that the Mate 8 and its Cortex A72 CPU seems to have the edge over the Galaxy S7.

Basemark OS II 2.0 - System

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Memory

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Graphics

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Web

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Overall

In Basemark OS II the combination of a better GPU, better NAND, and better single thread CPU performance seems to be enough for the Galaxy S7 to approach the iPhone 6s Plus in overall performance. While the system benchmark shows that Kryo isn't quite going toe to toe with Twister, the Adreno 530 helps to narrow the gap in the graphics test.

PCMark - Web Browsing

PCMark - Video Playback

PCMark - Writing

PCMark - Photo Editing

PCMark - Work Performance Overall

In PCMark, we can see that the Galaxy S7 is mostly comparable to the Galaxy S6. However major improvements in areas like GPU performance help to give it an overall advantage relative to the Galaxy S6 in the photo editing test. Given that this is basically a test of API-level performance, it's likely that Samsung's frameworks and governor settings lead to mostly similar performance in these tests.

Overall, the Snapdragon 820 appears to provide a pretty healthy bump in performance over almost every SoC seen in 2015, although it's hard to declare a clear winner when comparing it to Apple's A9 or Huawei's Kirin 950. If you glanced at the battery life graphs and the performance graphs above it's pretty obvious that Qualcomm has made some enormous strides here. While not quite going from zero to hero, Qualcomm has come close, and that definitely deserves some credit.

NAND Performance

If you think about the memory hierarchy, while RAM and cache are important, at the end of the day the most important aspect is the base storage. Even if you have infinite RAM and cache, if your storage is sufficiently slow the user experience is going to be painful for at least the first time you have to load something.

In order to test this, we use our standard test of AndroBench with 4 KB and 256 KB reads and writes for random and sequential tests. I went ahead and did some digging around to figure out exactly what it is we’re testing in the Galaxy S7, and it turns out that while the Galaxy S7 storage solution is similar to what’s in the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, it isn’t quite the same. The Galaxy S7 UFS storage identifies itself as the KLUBG4G1CE-B0B1, which looks to be in the same family and appears to have been released at pretty much the same time as the Galaxy S6 storage solution, but the model number isn’t quite the same.

Internal NAND - Sequential Read

Internal NAND - Sequential Write

Internal NAND - Random Read

Internal NAND - Random Write

Looking at the performance results, we can also see that the Galaxy S7 is pretty similar to the Galaxy S6 in storage performance at a high level. Interestingly enough despite using full disk encryption on the Galaxy S7, we don’t really see a noticeable degradation in performance relative to the Galaxy S6 which is good to see considering the number of Android devices that do have noticeable performance effects when enabling FDE.

Battery Life GPU Performance
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  • buxe2quec - Tuesday, March 08, 2016 - link

    And I'm still wondering... how is it possible that years after various websited emphasized the better alignment and design of the connectors and perforations of the iPhone, Galaxies are still aligning them with no care at all? check that top side with the slots and holes thrown there randomly and that bottom side with the four holes (or groups thereof) aligned in FOUR different ways.

    But hey at least Apple supporters won't say they are copying everything...
    Reply
  • Dobson123 - Tuesday, March 08, 2016 - link

    I couldn't care less. Reply
  • name99 - Tuesday, March 08, 2016 - link

    Fair enough. But don't then complain that it's "unfair" when Apple sucks up 80% of the profits in this sector. It's attention to details (ALL details) that allows a company to charge more... Reply
  • lilmoe - Tuesday, March 08, 2016 - link

    Attention to detail hardly has anything to do with the port alignment at the bottom of the phone, and more so with the antenna bands on the back and the cheap choice of aluminum alloys in previous models (changed only after "bending" to public pressure, pun intended).

    A nice finish =/= quality. A polished piece of cheap glass looks better than a rough diamond.

    Most of Apple's attention to detail goes to media, perception, image, supply chain, and money making business models. Well, at least more so than their attention to hardware.

    You have good points here and there, but your fanboyish attitude ruins the good parts...
    Reply
  • theduckofdeath - Tuesday, March 08, 2016 - link

    Exactly. And there is a pretty good reason why the SD/SIM slot is on the side on the top. It can't be in the same location as the camera's. Apple have displaced the camera to a corner, that's not very symmetric in my eyes. And like you, I've never been a fan of those plastic separators on the back on all-metal phones.
    End of the day, manufactures are always doing deliberate design differentiations to make sure their hardware is distinguishable from a distance. Most people can easily identify a Samsung phone when someone's using it, simply because they've stuck to the same camera design/location since the Galaxy S2.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Tuesday, March 08, 2016 - link

    I think you mean this?

    http://www.imore.com/difference-apple-samsung-indu...

    That was about the GS6 and only just started making its rounds, after Samsung finally tried to make nicer designs. I mean, I agree with you, it's such a bizarre miss, but when you say "years and years", it's really, "year", or less.
    Reply
  • grayson_carr - Wednesday, March 09, 2016 - link

    Well if the Galaxy phones had bezels the size of Texas like the iPhones, I'm sure they could align the ports better because they'd have more room to work with. Reply
  • syxbit - Tuesday, March 08, 2016 - link

    "While not quite going from zero to hero, Qualcomm has come close, and that definitely deserves some credit."

    I disagree. Giving them credit because of the large improvement over the awful SD810 doesn't make sense.

    Instead of a comparison to last years garbage, give them credit for how SD820 performs compared to todays best SoCs. It turns out SD820 isn't really leading that much. It's mostly still behind a year old Apple chip.
    Reply
  • whiteiphoneproblems - Tuesday, March 08, 2016 - link

    "Always-On Display is nice to have, but for some reason it only polls the ambient light sensor, so the display won’t actually turn off in your pocket."

    This is strange and disappointing. I wonder why it does not use the proximity sensor.
    Reply
  • whiteiphoneproblems - Tuesday, March 08, 2016 - link

    ...and as a stab at answering my own question: I assume constantly polling the prox sensor would cause a greater battery hit than simply leaving the display on all the time (including in pocket)?

    Would be interesting to chart battery life with AOD on vs. off (in some kind of controlled way, of course).
    Reply

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