Apple A10 vs A9 vs Snapdragon 820 vs Exynos 8890. Is iPhone 7 the fastest phone ever?

The iPhone 7 got released this week and as soon as a phone gets released, enthusiasts run benchmarks on it to test the guts. As a result, the phone gets etched to the database of many popular benchmarking sites. 

I have scoured through those sites and hence present you how the iPhone compares to the latest android phones and it's predecessor in multiple tests testing the CPU and GPU. 

First of all, let's start with the CPU since it's the silicon that runs most of the tasks and hence is a good indicator of the usual performance of the system. 

Devices chosen:

  • A10: iPhone 7
  • A9: iPhone 6s
  • Snapdragon 820: Oneplus 3
  • Exynos 8890: Galaxy S7


The best cross-platform indicator of CPU performance on mobile devices is geekbench. Here are the best scores I could find to show each processor in the best light possible. So, here are the results: 

In this test, both the A9 and the A10 thrash the android SoCs by virtue of wide core designs. It's also the test in which the A10 absolutely destroys everything in the mobile space. At this point, nothing except intel's 4.5W core M CPUs can compete with Apple's cores here. 

Single threaded tasks like some websites, compiling and executing many apps and physics in certain games should accelerate extremely well with these cores. 

If the single core result was 'A new hope', this is certainly 'The empire strikes back'. Here android SoCs are still dominant due to 4 and 8-core designs, utilizing the added performance due to the added threads, beating the 4 and 2 core designs of A10 and A9 respectively. 

One more thing that sticks out is that A10 only gains about 64% more performance with the addition of one big and 2 other little cores. I am a little disappointed here since I was hoping for at least doubling. Maybe the A10 is just a dual core SoC and just switches the power saving cores with the powerful mcores instead of using HMP(Heterogenous Multi Processing) like the E8890. 


Let's move to GPU, where things are a lot more comparable. Apple promised a 50% increase in GPU power. But did they deliver on their promise or was it a clever tactic that works only in certain scenarios: 

Manhattan 3.1 is the most intensive GPU test and it shows since these GPUs have a hard time. Android phones are running on OpenGL and the iPhones are running on metal. Low level APIs an advantage reserved for iPhones until vulkan becomes popular on android. 

The trend continues here with A10's GPU(undisclosed) runs very close to the performance of the adreno 530 while the Mali T880 inside the E8890 slightly beats the A9 again. 

The trend continues here with the A10 beating out the 820 by a whisker. T-rex is the least demanding game of the bunch and all the phones have no issue pushing over 70 fps here. 

Here the A10 again dominates all the other android phones, since 3Dmark is much more dependent on CPU than GFXBench for physics computations. 


So, let's answer the question: is the A10 the fastest mobile chip ever? The answer would be in general yes. But as it's clearly visible, it wasn't a clean sweep in all the tests and the android SoCs aren't anything to be scoffed at considering they are around 6 months old now and on the verge of refresh in Q1 2017. 

I would be surprised however, if the next gen android SoCs get beat by the A10. All this competition just means the consumer is the winner and gets sizable improvements every year. 

What do you think about the performance of the A10? Comment below. 


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