Samsung Galaxy S9+ performance analysis: Fastest Android, but not the fastest phone

By Subhrojit Mallick | Published on 09 Mar 2018
Samsung Galaxy S9+ performance analysis: Fastest Android, but not the fastest phone
HIGHLIGHTS

We ran our suite of benchmarking apps right after we received the Samsung Galaxy S9+ and soon realised that while this is indeed the fastest Android phone right now, it’s nowhere close to the iPhone X

It’s almost a ritual now. Samsung will set the ball rolling by launching the flagship Galaxy S smartphone early in the year while Apple will hold its own event near the end of the year and topple Samsung off its pole position. Samsung’s own Galaxy Note has been positioned to cushion that fall from top a bit. But this year, the story is going to be different. The Galaxy S9+ won’t be ritualistically crowned as the best performing smartphone. Last year’s iPhone X retains the crown, as the raw performance of the Exynos 9810 chip powering the S9+ falls way short of the A11 Bionic chipset inside the iPhone X.

We ran our suite of benchmarking apps right after we received the Galaxy S9+ and soon realised that while this is indeed the fastest Android phone right now, it’s nowhere close to the iPhone X. The Galaxy S9 is powered by Samsung’s proprietary silicon in India, the Exynos 9810, as opposed to the Snapdragon 845 chipset that powers the units in US and China.

We noticed that the Exynos 9810 SoC is underclocked in the Galaxy S9+. When it launched, Samsung had announced that the 9810 can reach a max clock speed of 2.9Ghz. However, the one powering the Galaxy S9 and the S9+ is clocked at a max speed of 2.7Ghz. The A11 Bionic, though, has an even lower core clock speed at 2.39GHz. It’s also a hexa-core chipset as opposed to the 9810 being an octa-core chipset. A layman will look at the processor specs and immediately call the S9+ the winner. But the devil is in the details.

 

Geekbench 4

Geekbench 4 is designed to rate raw computing performance of a device. The benchmark app that supports both iOS and Android devices checks how the single-core and multi-core performance of a phone stack up against the competition. The Galaxy S9+ received an impressive score of 3769 for single-core and 8938 for multi-core performance. This is higher than all of the premium Android flagships from last year. It’s 46 percent faster than both the Galaxy Note 8 and the Galaxy S8+. However, Geekbench’s processor-intensive tests that put to test the ability for the CPU to handle loads, state that the Galaxy S9+ is no match for the iPhone X. It’s 11 percent slower than Apple’s flagship.

AnTuTu

AnTuTu, one of the most popular benchmarking apps for devices, simulates real-world operations and assigns an overall score to the device. While the score, on its own, doesn’t mean much, it’s useful as a comparison tool between two devices. Higher the score, the better it is. And in this case, the Galaxy S9+ does come out on top, even above the iPhone X. 15 percent higher than Apple’s marquee device to be exact. It’s impressive, but AnTuTu has been known to be rigged of sorts. OEMs tune the processor to run at peak speeds just to pass the benchmarking app with flying colours. As a result, it cannot always be relied upon. Nevertheless, with a higher score, the S9+ is overall faster than the iPhone X, but when you look at the granular scores, you will realise the UX score on the iPhone X is higher than the Galaxy S9+ and for good reason. iOS is way more optimised than Android which is more or less like a turnkey solution for smartphone interface for every other OEM under the sun.


3D Mark Sling Shot

3D Mark is a measure of a device’s graphical prowess. It is essentially a test of the integrated GPU on a device. The Galaxy S9+ relies on a Mali G72 GPU for graphics and based on the 3D Mark Sling Shot score, it isn’t much of an upgrade from the previous generation. There’s only a ten percent increase in the benchmark score over the Galaxy Note 8. What’s even more embarrassing is that the S9+ couldn’t even match up to the OnePlus 5T in terms of graphical prowess, let alone the iPhone X.

The Exynos 9810 is built on Samsung’s own 10nm LPP manufacturing process. It’s a chipset designed and manufactured by Samsung to run on its own Galaxy devices. Much like what Apple does. The A11 Bionic chipset is also a custom chipset designed and tuned by Apple solely to power the iPhone X. Considering how both Samsung and Apple design and tune their own chips to power their own devices, it’s baffling to see how far ahead Apple really is in semiconductor technology. But more than that, it’s perhaps the optimisations in iOS that makes the A11 Bionic sing. I say that because Samsung still has to depend on Android, which Google develops, and is used by just about everyone. The hardware-software harmony isn’t as good as in iOS devices, as a result.

Nevertheless, it’s likely that you won’t see much of a difference in real-world usage. The Galaxy S9+ is still blazing fast, and quite capable of handling just about anything you throw at it. But what the benchmark scores entail is that between Samsung vs Apple, Apple comes out as a clear winner.

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Subhrojit Mallick

Eats smartphones for breakfast.

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