Apple's ability to control the entire information chain, down to the point of limiting leaks, appears to be gradually slipping as it grows as a company. Case in point are the numerous hardware and performance leaks surrounding the newly launched iPhone 4S. Little did we know that several weeks ago we were staring at photos of the 4S' PCB, and more recently we've seen the first performance results from Apple's first A5 based smartphone thanks to a few eager users around the web. We've compiled these results here from various sources (all linked below) and compared them to our existing database of tests.

The results are pretty much as expected. Javascript performance finally catches up to Tegra 2 based Honeycomb devices, while general CPU performance is significantly higher than the iPhone 4. I suspect Ice Cream Sandwich will bridge the Android smartphone gap (the Honeycomb equipped Gtab 8.9 is here to give you an idea of where a more modern Android browser ends up).

Keep in mind that all of these tests measure performance of the software stack in addition to the hardware. In particular the web browser tests depend largely on browser optimizations, which is why we see differences between similar hardware running different browser versions. Also note that all results were run at stock, with the stock browser. Finally, although these browser tests were captured on video we'll still be running our official tests once our 4Ses arrive and will update accordingly.

Update: We made a mistake in our original presentation of the SunSpider numbers and compared the iPhone 4S' 0.9.1 results to our existing database of 0.9.0 scores. We have since updated the graph to compare directly to our 0.9.1 numbers. The rest of the results are unaffected. I apologize for the confusion.
The distribution is a lot tighter than before, however the relative standings don't really change. I still fully expect ICS to narrow a lot of this gap between iOS and Android devices - if we look at the lone Honeycomb result you get an indication of that.
Note that we always run our benchmarks on a stock OS/browser configuration. 

SunSpider Javascript Benchmark 0.9.1 - Stock Browser

Rightware BrowserMark

Using some of the integer and fp tests of published Geekbench scores we can already conclude that Apple is shipping a lower clocked A5 in the iPhone 4S than it does in the iPad 2. This naturally makes sense as the iPhone 4S has a much smaller 5.25 Whr battery. Based on the Geekbench results it looks like the iPad 2 is clocked around 25% higher than the iPhone 4S, pegging the latter's clock speed at 800MHz.

Geekbench - Overall Results

Geekbench - Processor integer performance

A lower clock not only means higher yields from the factory, but likely a lower operating voltage as well. Dropping a CPU's core voltage, yields a greater-than-linear decrease in power consumption, making the marginal loss in clock speed a good choice. At a lower operating frequency than its Android competitors, Apple does have to exploit its strengths in software to avoid any tangible performance penalties. Apple has traditionally done this very well in the past, so I don't expect the loss of frequency to be a huge deal to the few who do cross-shop iOS and Android.

Unsurprisingly, memory bandwidth doesn't appear to have gone up either compared to the iPad 2's A5 (taking into account scaling due to CPU clock increases). The Samsung part number on the iPad 2's A5 indicates two LPDDR2-800 die on package, it's safe to assume that whatever Apple clocked the memory interface at in the iPad 2 remains unchanged in the iPhone 4S.

The GPU results tell a similar story courtesy of some early GLBenchmark 2.1 results. The 960 x 640 results are useless as they are bound by vsync at ~60 fps. Luckly GLBenchmark 2.1 added an off-screen render mode at 1280 x 720 where we can really see the differences between the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S A5 implementations:

GLBenchmark 2.1 - Egypt - Offscreen

GLBenchmark 2.1 - Pro - Offscreen

Here the iPad 2 holds a ~21% performance advantage, which once again I assume to be all related to clock speed. Also note the huge advantage over the existing iPhone 4. The GPU power in the 4S should be more than enough to run any well written, current generation title at well north of 30 fps on its display.

We'll be reviewing the iPhone 4S in the coming weeks, stay tuned!

Source: GLBenchmark Database, Geekbench Database, Macrumors

Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • AnandReader1999 - Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - link

    The improvements are less impressive when you realize that Apple only gives you what if feels like it needs to. If you look at historical data, Apple improves their software at 'just enough' of a pace to compete and maximize their money.

    If you want to see how Android competes, get an SG2 and use a better than stock browser that loads flash and is tabbed with a ton of features built into it. Then run a comparison and you'll think...what's the big deal with Apples' is competitive, but not so amazingly stunning, UNLESS you're a 3GS or 4 user...then its 'Amazing'...but only because you were using such an inferior product to begin with.

    Its the nature of Apple to make the most they can off of you while the user thinks they have the best product available...when really they don't.
  • doobydoo - Sunday, October 16, 2011 - link

    Apple releases the phone with the fastest CPU/GPU combination you can get in any phone, and according to you they do 'just enough'.

    Yeah, OK.
  • doobydoo - Sunday, October 16, 2011 - link

    And by the way, it's much, much faster than the Samsung Galaxy S2, with better battery life and less user complaints.
  • kebab77 - Sunday, February 5, 2012 - link

    Check out the massive benchmark improvements on a Galaxy S2 running ICS beta:
  • Formul - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    I wonder if combination of Ice Cream Sandwich with Kal El will be able to catch up to A5/iOS5 combo. Its twice as fast as anything on the market ... and how the hell is iPhone 4 with singe Cortex A8 having the same (or even beating) exact score as dual core Cortex A9 phones in many tests? some of them with doble the RAM?
  • adriaaaaan - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    You're comparing apples to oranges.
    Gingerbread only uses one core in it's browser compared to honeycomb's hence why the iphone 4's newest browser beats gs2. With ICS It would easily win this benchmark as noone would deny its faster than tegra 2 and thats not including the obvious speed improvements ICS's browser would have anyway
  • Chickenatr - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    But that still doesn't explain how an archaic processor (A8 vs A9) with half the ram beats the newer android superphone on that.

    Looks like Apple really know their stuff, or Android is just not well written. Heck, even older WP7 devices run faster than newer Android devices on supposedly better hardware.
  • DrChemist - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    I highly agree that all these benchmarks really mean nothing other than that mobile OS dominates performance on mobile devices and nothing more than that. As far as graphics, that is highly dependent on the chip used which is dependent on the newest thing out. Take for instance my Samsung Focus (7720 - Mango) using the QSD8250 and Adreno 200 getting ~9500ms while the original WP7.0 gave ~44000ms. People need to focus on the OS to squeeze performance. I even feel the general performance of my phone is much quicker than iOS or Android 2.3.
  • WaltFrench - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    I think you just explained “mobile OS dominates performance” as “integration of OS and hardware determines performance.”

    Which would support @Chickenatr's contention: must be a lot more love that went into those Apple devices than the stuff that you're comparing them to.
  • Black1969ta - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    Apple has a company that "Hardens" their CPU design. While I would bet the homogeny of software and hardware in Apple closed environment does lend effciency to their design, but an A5 from HTC is not the equivalent of an A5 from Apple, many OEMs use a Hardened version of the ARM design so that it is more focused on their design specifications.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now