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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  • ray_cheeno - Sunday, July 10, 2016 - link

    Dear Joshua, it's very fine that you point out that the Samsung S7 too expensive compared to One plus 3 and Xaomi Mi5. I have not seen a comment to your favored Apple IPhone 6 and 6S. Therefore I would like to see a Part 3 and more objectivity. Thank you.
  • Lau_Tech - Sunday, July 10, 2016 - link

    I feel that going forward Josh should do the Iphone reviews and Andrei should do the Android phone ones.

    I don't doubt the objectivity of either writer, but Josh's tendency to downplay and undersell android phones and features, as well as to produce late reviews, has undoubtedly contributed to Anandtech's reputation as an pro Apple site.

    Splitting up the phones (perhaps android phones require 2 writers, given their volume) will allow for faster and greater variety in reviews.
  • Ranger1065 - Tuesday, July 12, 2016 - link

    Now taking bets on whether Anandtech will have a proper Geforce 1080 review within 6 months of release...
    My bet is NOT.
    Even if they do who will care?
    As the clicks decrease....
    Bye Bye Anandtech.
  • _Aaron_ - Tuesday, July 12, 2016 - link

    --- Anandtech Galaxy S7 Review: "Although the G5 seems to have started an AF run in the middle of the capture, the areas where the photo is actually focused are arguably better than what the Galaxy S7 can put out. Even next to the G4, the Galaxy S7 falls short. I’m honestly not sure why LG doesn’t get more credit here, because next to Apple they seem to have the best image processing algorithms in the industry.
    Unfortunately, the Galaxy S7 is just a bit disappointing here. The LG G5 is just clearly better here as noise reduction is better in pretty much every way and it looks a lot more natural due to less obvious sharpening halos. I would also argue that the HTC 10 is also better here due to its better texture detail and better handling of shadow detail, even if edges are softer.
    However, with that said the output of the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge’s camera is not that impressive. I would argue that while it’s not worse than the iPhone 6s Plus, it is basically comparable. The real competition in this space comes from the HTC 10 and LG G5, the two of which manage to deliver arguably better still image output ".

    --- Anandtech LG G5 review: " When it comes to noise in bright outdoor conditions, the G5 sits about in the middle of this pack the G5 sits about mid pack, with the iPhone 6s Plus, Huawei P9, and Galaxy S7 edge all performing just a little better.
    In both scenes, the Galaxy S7 edge takes the brightest picture despite using the fastest shutter speed. The G5’s images are a little darker than the G4’s because it favors a shorter exposure, but it still produces brighter images than the Moto X and Nexus 6P.
    The Galaxy S7 edge shows no vignetting, while the Nexus 6P suffers from this issue to a mild degree. All of the other phones, including both of the G5’s cameras, show negligible vignetting.
    In bright daylight, the G5 equals the Galaxy S7 edge, producing excellent looking photos. When there’s less light available, like on cloudy days or when moving indoors, the G5 starts to struggle. It still does pretty well setting white balance and exposure, although the iPhone 6s Plus consistently does better. Image noise, however, is a serious problem for the G5. Its images show significantly more noise grain than other flagship devices, degrading image quality ".
    Ok, now, I'm confused: should I follow Anandtech's words, or Anandtech's words?
  • isik - Tuesday, July 12, 2016 - link thanks
  • peterApinto - Tuesday, July 12, 2016 - link

    The whole review spells "NOT BIASED!" in every part.

    Why? Because the author is actually able to document his allegations, transforming them into arguments.

    In fact, this review is really close to being an actual analysis, where the author breaks down all the relevant parts of the S7 and its functions, in order to produce a solid evaluation. And he does this by using solid test tools and techniques, so the results can be recreated by others. This is as close to science as I imagine any tech site is able to get.

    So - you can disagree on his conclusion, but calling this review biased just shows that it is you who is biased. Really.
  • KoolAidMan1 - Thursday, July 14, 2016 - link

    Reality is biased for emotional ideologues who worship Android as their god.

  • StimulatedBoy - Wednesday, July 13, 2016 - link

    Thx, Joshua. This kind of analyses, eye for details and objectivity is what has drawn me to Anandtech for the last 10-15 years. Keep up the good work!
  • Aaight - Thursday, July 14, 2016 - link

    Lol, er du her og grupperunker også :D Synd du bommet på 3 av 3, hehe!
  • pukemon1976 - Wednesday, July 13, 2016 - link

    I see the comments mention bias a lot. Me? I think the author is trying to get a job at apple like Klug and Shimpi. Geez. Can you not make it anymore obvious? I think some of us that are fanboys of android pretty much know that apple makes a good all around overpriced phone. Cpu? Winner by efficiency and architecture. GPU? Not necessarily winner but powerVR uses different method of drawing graphics and that is drawing what is only shown. Nonetheless, powerVR makes a damn good efficient GPU. A lot of things are just details. Like battery life? Author gets away with mentioning but x phone has a bigger battery. What about iPhone uses less lines of resolution in both their models so battery life comparison is just details. Cameras? I can't comment really on quality of s7/s7 edge but do know they focus really fast and process fast. Especially exynos version. Iphone camera? I've seen some really.bad pictures from my friends as of late. And some admittedly know their camera isn't all it's cracked up to be. If I'm taking pictures with my note4 at some memorable event usually my friends and family want copies of my pictures, no matter what phones they have. And work just issued us iPhone 6+ a few months ago. Geez. Impressed with sunny day shots. But I work in dark environments often. I'm pulling out my note4 camera or somebody is asking me to take an important picture if only iphones around most of the time. And I wish author and company would take a better approach to wifi and lte battery tests. My note4 with the first modem to use power enveloping for LTE is noticeablyore efficient than WiFi. I've proven it over and over and over. Even my geek friends are befuddled by it. And how come author never mentions iPhone dropping frames or lagging? I do admit though iPhone does have great memory management, not to mention noticeably faster internal storage. My micro SD though... oh wait... have to pay super premium for extra storage. Really wish author and friends were less biased. I'm fine with opinions. Anand wrote great articles and his iPhone bias didn't ruin it for me. Methinks, the reviews take so long because anandtech isn't anandtech anymore. Me also thinks author and friends so jealous they meticulously spend a ridiculous amount of time making apple proud of their review so they too can go work in Cupertino one day. Unbelievable how shoddy this review was. Really? When you couldn't say apple was the best bar none in a certain department you digressed to other Android phones, probably meaning apple isn't even close to the top, since you have to resort to that. And some of you apple fanboys need to lay off the apple look aid. It has been so obvious as of late. I know apple does a lot of things well. And some they don't. And then there's so much customization in amdroid, especially with root, even moreso with unlocked bootloader. I think some of you guys never read Klug's and shimpi's reviews. Even though they showed their apple bias, they did some really good reviews. Reviews I would come back for. Even read the iphone reviews. I know why I've hardly been coming to anandtech lately but this review I know I'll be coming even less. No more bookmarks or waiting g for the other stuff l liked to read about like Intel, nvidia, and, ssd tech. Until next time, might be awhile, and hopefully better reviewers, peace out.

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