System Performance Revisited

Now that we’ve covered battery life we can revisit another topic where our testing has changed dramatically for 2016, which is our system performance benchmarks. As previously mentioned this year a major goal of ours was to focus on benchmarks with metrics that better indicate user experience rather than being subject to additional layers of indirection in addition to updating our previously used benchmarks. Probably one of the hardest problems to tackle from a testing perspective is capturing what it means to have a smooth and fast phone, and with the right benchmarks you can actually start to test for these things in a meaningful way instead of just relying on a reviewer’s word. In addition to new benchmarks, we’ve attempted to update existing types of benchmarks with tests that are more realistic and more useful rather than simple microbenchmarks that can be easily optimized against without any meaningful user experience improvements. As the Galaxy S7 edge is identical in performance to the Galaxy S7, scores for the Galaxy S7 edge are excluded for clarity.

JetStream 1.1

Kraken 1.1 (Chrome/Safari/IE)

WebXPRT 2015 (Chrome/Safari/IE)

In browser/JavaScript performance the Galaxy S7 in its Snapdragon 820 variants performs pretty much as you'd expect with fairly respectable performance about on par with the iPhone 6 at least part of the time, which frankly still isn't enough but a lot of this is more due to Google's lack of optimization in Chrome than anything else. The Exynos 8890 version comes a lot closer but it still isn't great. Subjectively browsing performance on the Galaxy S7 with the Snapdragon 820 is still painful with Chrome, and I have to install either a variant of Snapdragon Browser or Samsung's stock browser in order to get remotely acceptable performance. Even then, performance isn't great when compared to Apple's A9-equipped devices. The lack of single thread performance relative to other devices on the market in conjunction with poor software optimization on the part of Google is really what continues to hold OEMs back here rather than anything that Samsung Mobile is capable of resolving.

PCMark - Work Performance Overall

PCMark - Web Browsing

PCMark - Video Playback

PCMark - Writing

PCMark - Photo Editing

PCMark shows that the Galaxy S7 is generally well-optimized, with good performance in native Android APIs, although devices like the OnePlus 3 pull ahead in general, likely due to differences in DVFS, lower display resolution, more RAM, and similar changes as the hardware is otherwise quite similar. In general though unless you get something with a Kirin 95x in it you aren't going to get performance much better than what you find in the Galaxy S7, although the software optimization in cases like the writing test could be better for the Snapdragon 820 version of the phone.

DiscoMark - Android startActivity() Cold Runtimes

DiscoMark - Android startActivity() Hot Runtimes

As hinted by the PCMark results, the Galaxy S7 with the Snapdragon 820 is really nothing to write home about when it comes to actual software optimizations, while the Exynos 8890 version is significantly faster in comparison. The fastest devices by far here are still the Kirin 950-equipped phones, but even from cold start launches the HTC 10 is comparable, and pulls ahead slightly when the applications are pre-loaded into memory. The OnePlus 3 and Xiaomi Mi5 are closer to what the S820 GS7 should be achieving, which is really more a testament to just how strangely slow the Galaxy S7 with Snapdragon 820 is.

Overall though, the Galaxy S7 in both iterations are acceptably fast for general purpose tasks. However, with that said the Snapdragon 820 variant is noticeably slower, and the software stack seems to be less optimized for whatever reason even after multiple post-launch OTAs and all the latest app updates. Given that these devices have locked bootloaders it's difficult to really go deep and try to figure out exactly what's causing these issues, but it's likely that Samsung Mobile has the engineering staff to do this and resolve these issues as a 600 USD phone really shouldn't be performing worse than a 400 USD phone. On the bright side, the Exynos 8890 variants perform quite well here, with performance comparable to top devices and often beating out Snapdragon 820 devices, although usually not by a huge margin.

Introduction and Battery Life Revisited System Performance Cont'd
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  • invinciblegod - Tuesday, July 5, 2016 - link

    Apparently by your metric nothing can ever be compared to an iphone. "You can't compare a Lexus to a Mercedes, that will be BIAS!!!" The only thing annoying about this site is the complainers who have no valid arguments screaming BIAS.
  • retrospooty - Tuesday, July 5, 2016 - link

    How about when the iPhone 5s came out. Any other flagship gets 1, maybe 2 article. That day the iPhone 5s had 14 articles on it... 14 articles. That in itself shows the bias and that continues to this day, even after Anand left to go work at Apple. Reading the article above I see it clearly. Reading their iPhone reviews I see it clearly. There is an obvious reluctance to say anything negative about Apple and an obvious reluctance to say anything glowing about a product that competes with Apple. If you dont see that at Anandtech you simply arent paying attention.
  • michael2k - Tuesday, July 5, 2016 - link

    15? I can only find 9 articles for the 5S spread across 5 days, and one appears a month later.

    They had a hands on, and a video of the hands on, rather than combining the two. They had their announcement article as well as an availability article; they could have combined those as well. They also had separate articles on camera, battery, and CPU that could have been combined with the review.

    That said, that isn't a sign of bias, that's a sign that Apple articles pay the bills. People read them and generate the prerequisite clicks necessary to get page impressions.
  • retrospooty - Tuesday, July 5, 2016 - link

    It is possible it was hte iPhone5 release date... But it was 14. I recall it, because I commented after 11 that they had 11 bloody articles already and then 3 more came afterward, all that same day. That includes the main articles and the pipeline articles. Not sure how they archive them and that isnt the point. The point is the site is clearly biased. I remember you as well m2k, you are an old timer at this site as well and a well known apple defender. You are the target market and you are right , that is where their money lies. The only thing you are not right on is the bias it shows. When the site is reluctant to say anything too heavily negative about Apple and too positive on competing products, its a bias and this site has it, and has had it for many years now even years before Anand wen to work for Apple (if that isnt a clue already). If you dont see it, you simply aren't looking.
  • michael2k - Tuesday, July 5, 2016 - link

    There is something wrong with you if you think of people as with you and against you (Apple defender, Apple biased, etc). Yes, this site does favor Apple, they get a lot of coverage.

    You think it is wrong, yet the article lays out some of the reasons why they get so much coverage. Look at the CPU performance and you see that the 820 and Exynos both struggle to hit the top of the charts. Anandtech has performed multiple reviews over multiple iPhone releases to explain why that is the case; it isn't bias, it really is that Apple made a remarkable series of CPU designs.

    We also see the same thing doesn't occur in the GPU, but we did have multiple articles talk about the PowerVR because sometimes Apple did have a range topping SoC. As previously discussed, the user base reads these CPU and GPU articles.

    You can look at sales figures to see why Apple gets more attention than Samsung. In three days the iPhone 6S sold 13m units. In three months after the launch of the Galaxy S7 sold 25m units. There are really many more people reading the iPhone articles; that is the bias of the world, not the site, you're working against.
  • retrospooty - Tuesday, July 5, 2016 - link

    " if you think of people as with you and against you" Where did I say anything like that? I am simply pointing out a bias - not about taking sides. Like I said, if you are looking for unbiased reviews, Anandtech is no longer the site to check on. If you already like Apple and aren't looking to change, and you want in depth articles on Apple products, its a great site. If you want somewhat less than complete articles on say, Samsung products 4 months after launch, it's a good site too. Get the point? You and I are both pointing out that the site has become Apple-centric. You just like it because you are an Apple fan - not that there is anything wrong with that. ;) I do not like it becasue I am a fan of tech in general, so the site I "grew up on" has sold out to clickbait. Anandtech from 1997- (maybe) 2012 wasnt like that. It used to be about the tech. Now it's about the clicks and catering to one particular companies products. If you dont see that, then you are the new target audience and are happy with it. No worries dood.
  • fanofanand - Wednesday, July 6, 2016 - link

    The bias is obvious. Josh spent several months with an iPad Pro before he could give it his review, I am not aware of him spending that kind of time with any other devices being tested. I think the Apple fans are dwindling in number, maybe people are figuring out that electronics aren't their friend, nor are the corporations that make them. I can't recall seeing anything negative said about any Apple product reviewed here since......ever. There's your bias, the implication that any product from a particular corporation is flawless. Retro I have read your comments for years and have always been entertained. Seems you don't post as often anymore :(
  • retrospooty - Wednesday, July 6, 2016 - link

    Thanks... Yeah, I dont post too often because I dont come here too often anymore due to the issue being discussed. It's just not about the tech anymore its about the clicks and the money.
  • akdj - Monday, July 11, 2016 - link

    You guys are hilarious.
    The extent that this crew has gone to improve the objective testing and measurements, the two part, in depth and all encompassing review of the s7/s7 (both variants; SD/Exynos) and the well written and 'time spent' using the devices put a WHOLE helluva lot more 'meat' in to the review & their conclusions.
    As an ambidextrous user of both Android and iOS, I usually skip gens of Android and trade out annually for the latest iPhone. I still have my Xoom and the first iPad. The Nexus 7 & iPad 2 as well as a Note 4 and S6 Edge, I have the 6s+ as well and I enjoy all of them as smartphones. That said, and as an owner since day one ... I have too come to the same conclusions year in and out. iOS especially when you figure in its ecosystem of apps/& cross platform development so you're able to also enjoy the experience on your tablet area Android STILL hasn't figured out compared with the iPad & Surface well as Apple's understanding of SoCs and performance characteristics, updates, post purchase support and resale values're truly insane (doing/buying the same thing while expecting different results) with your declarations of bias and conclusions about other sites that rushed their review out four days after it dropped. Insane!
    The review clearly and objectively presents a whole lot of inarguable data and 'author time' spent with the piece they're reviewing.
    If you go back and read Apple reviews, any of them, you'll find areas of the review favoring Android implementation or design. From the display and cameras to the 'off the shelf' SoCs everyone with exception of Samsung is using to power their devices.
    Apple simply knows WTF they're doing and speaking from experience now nearing a decade using both - iOS and their dual/tri-core silicon designs, speedy memory(storage) and phenomenal memory management to keep battery longevity up as well as camera tech and understanding the whole 'package' - radios, security, durability, support and the largest library of software in history because developer monies do you convince yourself the same bullshit year in and year out? Is that TechCrunch/Giz or CNet "review", in your opinion and published just hours or a couple days after release and minus the measurements and time spent somehow more 'valid' in your opinion? I honestly can't believe how the ignorance and blatant disregard for these amazing reviews you can read for free and than hide behind your goofy screen name and keyboard to bash the author who's soooo much more intelligent and knowledgeable than you, ALL of you will EVER be when it comes down to reality and mobile development

    It also seems the masses agree. Apple sold 1/2 as many 6s & + models in 72 hours as Sammy did in three months, and it was the biggest 'down quarter' Apple's had since the iPhone dropped. Same thing on the tablet front. I also own each iPad including the two sides of Pros. Anand's reviews on both are incredibly spot on.

    *I own and operate a business and have been waiting for the day iPad would replace the laptop or AIOs we use in the field. They are always connected, durable, reliable, and maintain incredible stamina when 'live'. I'm not blowing smoke as I have been extensively testing them and Air2 was the one ....even if a bit small. The 12.9" iPad Pro/256 is the best piece of gear I've ever purchased and at 1/2 the price of a MacBook Pro or Surface Pro - I'm saving money and don't have pre-event concerns about wifi access.

    My take as an S6 Edge owner and reading the two reviews of the S7, I'm happy to skip that gen of Android. While I'll still purchase a Note 6/7 or S8 - it's not for pleasure but support and knowledge iOS clearly and not subtly blows Android out of the water with the perfect phone -tab/lap or desktop integration and aggregation using Handoff ....there's a continuity that exists both vertically and horizontally that can't be matched. Period.

    To argue and piss and moan about free and well written journalism is fruitless. Just. Go. Away. I can't understand why you would still be here, with the "Apple Bias" so prevalent. Like last year and the year before that, and the year....

    Serious, those of you that still enjoy Android, this is a great phone. Just maybe not as great as Gizmodo or TchCrnch reported the day after it was released ;) --- and may NOT be the best Android choice for others.
  • Savanah - Tuesday, July 5, 2016 - link

    I heard iphone sales are an all time low. Are you suggesting Apple is still selling more iphones than Samsung is selling their Galaxy series?

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