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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  • shm224 - Thursday, July 14, 2016 - link

    any idea why Anandtech is still using web/javascript benchmarks that are intended to measure software/javascript engine performance to measure the system / SOC performance?
  • ozmick1 - Saturday, July 16, 2016 - link

    The material (Samsung has told me plain glass and plastic) used over the rear camera lens if too fragile. Many owners are starting to complain of it breaking for no apparent reason as reported on Samsung's US Community website. Buyer beware with the S7 as it made from not-fit-for-purpose material. Samsung even told me that to prevent the rear lens from breaking - to leave the phone on the desk. Buyer beware with the S7.
  • FourEyedGeek - Monday, July 18, 2016 - link

    I just got the phone and I really like it. I used the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge for a couple of months and wasn't a fan, this is better in all the little things.

    The phone is snappy, interface moves smoothly and opening up applications leaves me with minimal load times. Mine has 32GB but is backed up with 200GB, I move large applications over to the SD card as a way of keeping the inbuilt a free as possible.

    It takes high quality pictures, not as nice as my DSLR but still good for a smartphone. The games I run play very smooth, much faster than the S6 Edge, my model uses the Exynos 8890.

    I've set up finger print scan, but isn't consistent enough for my liking, haven't used Samsung Pay and I'm not sure I will either but ny favourite cool feature is the water proofing. Used my phone under water for brief moments with my son and we love it. Make sure it is fully charged before dunking as the excellent moisture detection feature prevents charging until it is dry.
  • BuddyRich - Monday, July 18, 2016 - link

    Im rocking the S7 (not Edge - didn't like the cureved edges), while I disagree with some of review, one thing I have noticed, and you are the only other review to mention it, is the Camera lens flare issue with bright light sources at night. Not sure whats going on but I have the same issue with mine (Canadian S7 with the Exynos and different camera senor than 820s I believe, but same issue.) For an otherwise good camera this ruins it for me. Not everyone mentions it, but did you ever get a comment from Samsung on this, is it a defect perhaps? Its almost like they didn't put an AR coating on the lense or something.
  • InspectHerGadget - Sunday, July 31, 2016 - link

    I owned an S6 then the Note 5 and now the iPhone 6S Plus. I had previous to these, a Nokia 1520. All are great phones. The stand out feature of both the 1520 and 6S Plus is the battery life. The S7 will have the same issues with battery life that the S6 had, just slightly longer due to the larger battery. It isn't good enough and even the Note 5 battery life was only just adequate.

    I think that the review is outstanding and I appreciate the thorough approach to testing and reviewing. These phones are complex devices and every component needs to be analysed and tested. If you are going to shell out lots of money, you need to be sure of what you are buying.

    If a manufacturer such as Apple are shown to put together an outstanding device where every aspect of the device is exemplary, then the accolades are deserved. This doesn't happen by chance but is the result of blood, sweat and tears and thorough testing also.

    It is fair enough that Anandtech point out where Samsung have fallen short and why. It will put Samsung on notice to do better. Samsung are sloppy with what they do and they can't afford to be when up against Apple who make very few mistakes.
  • Bigbank - Tuesday, January 9, 2018 - link

    You need to have field experience.
    S7 is the best,  most versatile,  best  ROCKING audio on video playback.
    I'm sure the HTV will do a goid job, but if u can, u should.
    I'm sad because I can't allocate enough memory to 1080p, much less 1920p.
    Nice site

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