GPU Performance

We’re shortly also recapping the GPU and gaming performance of the new S21 Ultras. We investigate that this new generation of SoCs isn’t quite as power efficient as we would have hoped for, meaning the increased peak performance the new chips are advertising comes at a great cost in power consumption.

Generally, any contemporary phone is only able to continuously dissipate between 4 and 5W of power through radiation and convection (42 to 50°C peak skin temperatures at 22°C ambient), and once it reaches that peak thermal envelope, it will have to throttle performance.

Basemark GPU 1.2 - Medium 1440p - Off-Screen / Blit GFXBench Aztec Ruins - High - Vulkan/Metal - Off-screen GFXBench Aztec Ruins - Normal - Vulkan/Metal - Off-screen GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 Off-screen GFXBench T-Rex 2.7 Off-screen

A Stand-Still Year for GPU Performance

This year’s Galaxy S21 devices look quite unimpressive when it comes to their gaming performance.

For the Snapdragon S21, I think Samsung here can do better in terms of thermal management, as the phones currently throttle down to 3W even though the device could in theory supports more. Xiaomi’s Mi 11 with the same chip showcases much better performance (we’ll have a review of that device soon), so it’s an area of improvement which could very well be achieved with future firmware updates.

For the Exynos S21, it’s a large generational boost for Samsung, however the absolute numbers are still lagging behind Snapdragon 865 devices. This is important to note for devices such as the S21+ - the S20 FE 5G actually features a Snapdragon 865 SoC in traditional Exynos markets, and if gaming performance is an important aspect for your, that device might be the more interesting purchase.

System Performance Display Measurement
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  • Silver5urfer - Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - link

    Mass market just mindlessley consumes. Remember that Android had Windows like Filesystem which was the most powerful feature ever on smartphone. Google killed it in the name of Security. Esp all the images that you download on these latest Android 10+ phones, you cannot see any image or file under fileexplorer because its in the app own folder and once you uninstall all of it is wiped clean. It's ultimate kick in the gut for Android. On top no MicroSD card.

    But it's all great, because it looks good ? not to me anyways with that ugly screen hole and bump of camera module. It's great because it's the trend nowadays. These stupid smartphones are ruining more than anything with their social media junkware and addiction to teens all over the world and have some status quo as well.

    AT should have done some great deep dive on how OS is getting sandbagged to emulate and copy Apple in HW and SW but they do not give a shit. It's all spec benchmarks, Camera. Not even damn cost, not even specifications get pointed out. Fucking $1000 phone with plastic ? What the hell ? No charger as well, they even axed MST.

    But nope. It's a great device, tmrw Apple will kill Lighting port, you will see AT praise It's the future along with all Shills on youtube and other so called tech blogs.

    Windows is also sadly in a state of perpetual derangement, with it's as a service model bullcrap and their anti computing, they shove all that touch based garbage UWP UI into Win32 and pollute the UX of Windows as a powerful Desktop OS to a sandbagged corporate siphon for data on userbase and ship broken trash and use them as guinea pigs to push stable software for Win10 Enterprise customers.
  • JoeDuarte - Thursday, February 25, 2021 - link

    I think that locking down the file system is a good and obvious security move, though it shouldn't come at any cost to the user. There should be obvious folders for things like photos, and those should not be cleaned out by uninstalling an app.

    Google is a hopelessly bad company at this point though, and I would never trust them to design a good OS. They're not good enough, and they're just enjoying their market share because no one seems interested in launching a new OS, for mobile or more broadly.

    OSes could and should be massively more secure. It's a dimwitted myth that computers have to be insecure. If I were designing an OS, the user wouldn't know anything about a "file system" and there's no way anyone would be able to see system/OS folders and files. That's a huge information security leak. Of course apps would have no awareness of the system directory tree either. In fact, I might even physically isolate the OS on its own flash storage – a little 16 GiB of NAND or Optane would be more than ample. It could have all sorts of layered security measures, in software and hardware.

    I'd give users enormous control over things like their files, photos, etc. More user-friendly than Android for sure. But they don't need access to OS innards, and they don't need the "file system" abstraction – it doesn't add any value to the UX. Entire categories of Windows exploits would disappear if users didn't have access to system folders.
  • iphonebestgamephone - Friday, February 26, 2021 - link

    So no modding on your os?
  • JoeDuarte - Wednesday, March 3, 2021 - link

    Good question. I guess I lean toward yes, it would be possible to mod. Maybe something like a Developer Mode would be the way to implement it. If the file system is locked down, and OS files are locked down, by default for non-modding users, that should be good enough to obtain the security benefits in terms of exploit resistance.

    Exploits would be much less important if 9X% of users were immune. Well even modded systems would be immune to the sorts of exploits that are common now, all the memory bugs, overflows, use after frees, ROP, etc. A good OS would be formally verified (like seL4) and written in a new, advanced, and inherently secure programming language (secure against memory bugs, among other things). So I think modding would be cool, and I also think any desktop and laptop should be thoroughly upgradeable on the hardware side, so removable SSDs and RAM and maybe FPGA slots. I'm fine with non-upgradeable phones, but it would be sweet if they could achieve the same or better thinness while having a removable battery. Non-removable batteries don't seem to have given the use any benefits in terms of thinness, since the phones didn't get thinner. If anything, they're slightly thicker now, which is a shame, and I think the tech media has underexposed this fact – there was no benefit. And iPhones didn't get any thinner from removing the headphone port, which was supposed to be motivated by space savings. The media didn't seem to notice that the thickness didn't change...
  • iphonebestgamephone - Friday, March 5, 2021 - link

    Ok then
  • Rude Russy - Tuesday, March 9, 2021 - link

    Wow you are a miserable shit and you don't know what you are talking about. As for the headphones all you have to do is get a usb-c adaptor and you can plug your headphones in.
  • tuxRoller - Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - link

    Has the huawei always used such strong edge detection/enhancing?
    Some of the shots bring to mind me an aggressive comic inker.
  • s.yu - Thursday, February 25, 2021 - link

    Huawei is back and forth on this issue, generally the Mates are better and the P's are worse, IIRC P20 was the worst I've ever seen, but in the scope of this review my attention was on the Samsungs' tele samples.
  • asfletch - Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - link

    Just wanted to chime in to thank you for the hard work you put into these reviews Andrei. The comments section seems to be increasingly grievance-driven and glib these days, but as a long time reader I appreciate that you’re still able to provide more technical detail than most other reviewers despite not having a huge budget (eg to purchase and spend forever testing every variant).

    To those moaning about video testing, Youtube is a better forum for that kind of thing anyway. You won’t find in depth screen or platform analyses on there though.
  • Giro - Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - link

    Hello Andrei, thanks A LOT for this comprehensive review.
    It seems you consider Huawei like the reference for low light AND use of a better set-up for intermediate levels of zoom.

    Regardless of the OS, where Huawei falls behind Samsung now ?

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