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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  • mrochester - Tuesday, July 5, 2016 - link

    The problem with this assessment is that it means there's not a single tech website out there that isn't biased towards Apple, as you put it. I've actually seen Android Authority being accused of being biased towards Apple. My conclusion based on what I've witnessed is that some Android users just have a massive inferiority complex.
  • mrochester - Tuesday, July 5, 2016 - link
  • retrospooty - Tuesday, July 5, 2016 - link

    Your premise is nullified by pointing out the difference between "some" and "all". The fact that some people are spastic does not mean all are. I am simply pointing out the difference between the first 15 years at Anandtech and the past few years.
  • KoolAidMan1 - Saturday, July 9, 2016 - link

    Yup, Android is their god.
  • benzosaurus - Wednesday, July 6, 2016 - link

    That's mostly just an artifact of how Apple releases things— most other vendors let details about new products come out in stages over a couple weeks, whereas Apple goes from "we can neither confirm or deny that product even exists" to "here, get your grubby paws on one" in about two hours. I suspect the total number of articles is similar.
  • retrospooty - Wednesday, July 6, 2016 - link

    You must have been asleep the past 3-4 years
  • Psyside - Saturday, July 23, 2016 - link

    Please explain the absence of comparasion of the S7 to the iPhone in the charging section, while there is a negative "the iphone is clearly better" in every other section?

    Put off your glasses.
  • Frenetic Pony - Tuesday, July 5, 2016 - link

    The i-phone has almost the exact same camera module. I'm so glad you, oh mighty lord of vision that can see things others can't and ignored that all data points and etc. are here to correct everyone. Or maybe you and everyone else on the internet could drop the retarded tribalism. Could replace 99% of internet commentary with caveman grunts and "uhhh... duuuuhhhhh... Team A better. Team B dumbwit! Derrrrr...."
  • Psyside - Saturday, July 23, 2016 - link

    If anyone is having any doubts about the huge BIAS, you might missed the fast charging page.

    While, there is an comparasion and downplaying of the S7 in every way imaginable and ALWAYS compared to the iPhone 6s + (which is not the phone to be compared to, it should be the S7 Edge) the insane bias is clearly showed in the charging part, when there is NO SINGLE comparasion with the iphone, because its 2x worst in charging times, and would lose to every single android phone as well, this approve the clear bias and no one can deny it after it.

    Josua Ho, i'm very disappointed and will ignore all of your future reviews!
  • Bigbank - Tuesday, January 9, 2018 - link

    Rock and roll bro!
    S7 is quite amazing
    Let's smash the iPhone to the junk pile😂

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