Performance Benchmarks

Buyers of a flagship phone deserve a flagship SoC, and in North America the GS8+ is powered by the latest Snapdragon 835. This is the return of Qualcomm to octa-core processors and offers what promise to be their most powerful Adreno graphics to date. Let’s see how the Galaxy S8+ stacks up against some of the competition, beginning with CPU performance. To this end I wanted to test the phone in a 'native' state, and the 'performance' setting sets the screen to its full 1440×2960 resolution. Benchmarking with the default ‘balanced’ profile produces slightly higher numbers in a few comparison tests, as the screen is running at a lower resolution. The disparity in resolution is mitigated by the use of 'off-screen' graphics tests, which are always run at 1920×1080.

First up is Geekbench 4:

This overall result is indicative of the CPU performance similarities between stock ARM Cortex (the Kirin 960) and the custom Kryo cores of the Snapdragon 835. It seems we are pushing the limit of the current-gen ARM core design here.

With the crypto (AES) benchmark the Snapdragon 835 shows impressive single-threaded gains, but overall is slightly behind the stock ARM Cortex cores with the Kirin 960. Overall, however, these two platforms have very similar CPU numbers – aside from the final Geekbench result, below.

Memory performance is lower with the Galaxy S8+, which offers both a 4GB and 6GB LPDDR4 option. Our review unit had the base 4GB RAM/64GB storage configuration. Single-threaded memory performance was much higher compared to the previous Snapdragon 821, but no close to the Kirin 960. Meanwhile, Apple is in another universe with single-threaded CPU performance accross the board. As usual for Apple, a custom CPU with a proprietary and heavily optimized OS is unbeatable.

We move on to graphics benchmarks, and here the latest Adreno GPU dominates other handsets. Apple might have an advantage in the occasional test, but for the most part if you have the Snapdragon 835 you will enjoy the highest GPU performance on a phone.

As much of an improvement over prior ARM Mali graphics the Kirin 960's Mali-G71 MP8 is, the Adreno 540 is in a class by itself, currently. It would be interesting to see the performance of the international version of the GS8/GS8+, as the Samsung Exynos 8995 Octa features a Mali-G71 MP20 GPU (20 shader cores vs. 8 from the Kirin 960).

ALU offscreen is the first test where Apple comes out ahead with GFXBench, but the Adreno graphics in the GS8+ are still ahead of the 8-core Mali-G71.

Finally, we will look at results using 3DMark's Sling Shot and Sling Shot Extreme benchmarks. The first of these uses OpenGL ES 3.0, and is fully cross-platform as Apple supports up to ES 3.0 with iOS. For the 'Extreme' result I Apple uses their proprietary Metal API, rather than OpenGL ES 3.1, so there is no way to see a true apples-to-apples (get it?) comparison. I leave the iPhone off of the second result for this reason.

Certainly, the Snapdragon 835 offers some compelling performance, befitting a top-tier Android phone. Apple operates on a different plane of existence as they are the only phone maker to fully control the entire experience, but the Galaxy S8+ is as fast as any Android phone available today.

Next we will see the result of the battery test (you'll want to see this).

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