System Performance

Differences in system performance between devices with the same hardware chipset basically boil down to one aspect: software. When a vendor starts developing a new phone based on a new chipset, they are supplied by the chipset vendor with a base software package (BSP) containing the boilerplate drivers and Android implementation upon which the vendors can then go and customize and optimize to their liking. This development happens early in a device’s development life-cycle, and different vendors have different approaches as to how they go ahead and further optimize the BSP.

The biggest differences we see between the various devices today simply come down to the matter on when exactly the vendor has forked off their development branch from Qualcomm’s official BSP branch. Even earlier in the year I saw quite a lot differences between various Snapdragon 855 devices such as the Galaxy S10 and the G8, both having different versions of CPU schedulers at different stages of their implementations.

Such differences we also saw earlier in the year where Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 performance preview on the reference devices were running lower performing BSPs than what were found on the Galaxy S10. The question is now which vendors put in the effort to try to optimize the most out of the software stack, and which vendors were content to just leave things as they are.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Web Browsing 2.0 PCMark Work 2.0 - Video Editing PCMark Work 2.0 - Writing 2.0

The writing sub-test is amongst the most important ones in PCMark as it’s the most representative of real-world performance experience of a phone. Here, all the Snapdragon 855 phones perform very well, except for the OPPO Reno.

I have to mention that the phone I’ve reviewed came with the Chinese firmware variant. The OS offered a “Performance” mode, however this mode was quite dishonest as it simply pegged the CPU frequencies to their maximum, instead of serving as a more responsive DVFS mode as found on the performance modes of phones such as from Samsung or Huawei.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Photo Editing 2.0

The OnePlus 7 Pro lead the pack here in the Photo Editing test which makes use of RenderScript Android API image processing functions, likely due to it’s 90Hz screen which does improve the measured responsiveness of the benchmark.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Data Manipulation

Interestingly, the RedMagic 3 leads the pack here when it comes to the data manipulation test which is characterised my a mixed thread workloads with a larger single heavy thread, pointing out to better scheduling on the part of the ZTE device and its software.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Performance

Finally, in the overall score, the ZTE RedMagic 3 comes at the top alongside the Galaxy S10. It seems that these two devices have the newest and most performance scheduler versions made available by Qualcomm, and why they end up at the top of the pack.

Speedometer 2.0 - OS WebView

In the JavaScript web browser benchmarks, we again see a bit of a spread spectrum when it comes to the resulting scores. In Speedometer 2.0 the Galaxy S10 oddly remains as the worst performing device whereas other phones are more closely following the top performance of the Kirin 980.

WebXPRT 3 - OS WebView

In WebXPRT 3, the S10 and OP7Pro take the top spots, although again slightly behind the Kirin 980 chipset devices from Huawei.

Overall, performance of all the Snapdragon 855 were quite excellent and all phones are among the fastest devices on the market, which should come as no surprise to anyone.

Top Devices - China & Gaming Contenders Machine Learning Inference Performance
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  • cha0z_ - Monday, September 9, 2019 - link

    Actually the exynos is more EXPENSIVE! Note 9 when released costed 1100 euros in Europe vs 1000 dollars in US, you can check the conversion yourself as 1000 euros are over 1100 dollars. The fact you got a samsung device for cheaper is nothing exclusive to you nor China - there are super big discounts in US too for the qualcomm variants. Reply
  • s.yu - Monday, September 9, 2019 - link

    Actually I look before I buy, the SK version is the cheapest anywhere, I had the option of buying the HK version(on SD) of the same tier for ~$100 more but I decided against it thinking it's not worth the premium.
    A friend in the US also bought a Note 8 at the time and went for an HK version because getting it from HK is still cheaper than in the US and he preferred SD. I don't know how there are significant discounts in the US but suspect they're bound by contracts.
    As for the high price in Europe that should come as a surprise to no one. Most electronics are more expensive in Europe, it's not specific to Samsung.
    Reply
  • 1nterceptor - Tuesday, September 10, 2019 - link

    I agree, would be really great if we could see exy9825 vs exy 9820 vs sd855+ vs sd855. Why exy9820 and sd855 you may ask, well because of the software updates, i wonder if and how much difference does it make now after 6 months on the market and couple of firmware updates... Reply
  • 1nterceptor - Tuesday, September 10, 2019 - link

    ...although, i believe exy9825 is not by any means much faster/better than the "old" 9820, it is probbably more efficient on the other hand... Reply
  • jrocket - Thursday, September 5, 2019 - link

    Since many of these phones vary in price significantly, it would be interesting to see a "performance per dollar" value comparison. Reply
  • IUU - Friday, September 6, 2019 - link

    Would be if it was not so trivial. I mean , if one phone costs 400 dollars and another one 800, there you have straight away your performance per dollar. All are sd 855s , so there is nothing more to consider. One could argue about camera, screen, battery life, but these are irrelevant to performance. Reply
  • flyingpants265 - Tuesday, September 17, 2019 - link

    It says right in the article that the performance differs depending on software implementation. Reply
  • Wardrive86 - Thursday, September 5, 2019 - link

    Excellent article as always! I would like to see which version of Android each phone has in the system performance tests to see if some of the older device performance data is up to date and also see which Opengl and Vulkan drivers each device has while testing was done...however even without that data still the best tech site there is. Thanks! Reply
  • Wardrive86 - Sunday, September 8, 2019 - link

    For example:
    LG G7 Android 9 opengl driver : 331.0
    Slingshot Extreme Unlimited OpenGL ES 3.1
    Physics peak : 3486
    Physics sustained : 3392
    Graphics peak : 5467
    Graphics sustained: 5326
    (5 runs, 20 minutes, Room temp: 78F/25.6C)

    Immediately followed by Work 2.0
    Performance : 8146
    Web : 6588
    Video : 5701
    Writing. : 9554
    Photo : 15830
    Data : 6314
    Reply
  • yacoub35 - Thursday, September 5, 2019 - link

    Aside from battery life, the things I would care most about in a phone comparison are:
    Does it have stereo speakers?
    Does it have a headphone jack?
    Does it use vanilla Android (or how close to vanilla is what it uses)?
    Does it get all of the Android updates and security patches in a timely fashion?
    How is the camera performance (speed to load the app and take a photo, image stabilization, low light performance)?
    How much RAM does it have?
    How much internal storage (excluding the OS) and how much expandable, if any?
    Reply

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