The 2017 smartphone season has started with the LG G6, but high-specs fans have taken notice that the G6 uses a Snapdragon 821 chip (July 2016) and not a Snapdragon 835, which is the latest 8xx design from Qualcomm. Although the Samsung Galaxy S8 is set to be the first Snapdragon 835 handset, we did not know for sure what was the actual performance of that new chip was – until today.

We had an opportunity to spend a couple of hours at the Qualcomm HQ in San Diego with a Snapdragon 835 development device. Normally used by developers to access the full array of features of the Snapdragon Platform (chip+software+services), such a device is also suitable for benchmarking and should be a very good proxy for performance.

The Numbers

Some of you really cannot wait, so here are some raw numbers obtained after running the same test at least twice (and averaging):

Antutu v6.2.7 179,178
Geekbench 4 single 2,038
Geekbench 4 multi 6,386
GFXBench Car Chase Off (FPS) 25
GFXBench Manh 3.1 Off (FPS) 43
GFXBench Manh 3.0 Off (FPS) 64
GFXBench T-Rex Off (FPS) 118
3DM Slingshot 3.1 3,492
PCMark Work Performance 8,110
Kraken 1.1 (ms) 2,295
Octane 2.0 14,216

There are many benchmarks out there, but since we are looking at the chip in this article, we can zoom into the results for Geekbench and GFXBench which are synthetic CPU and GPU tests.

Let’s start with GeekBench 4.0. As you can see in the graph above, the multi-thread (multi-core) test shows Snapdragon 835 dominating everyone else. That is because Qualcomm is now completely using all 8 cores (4+4 in a big.LITTLE formation). Previously Qualcomm was using 4 cores (2+2) and was disadvantaged in this kind of synthetic test.

In the real world, it is extremely unlikely that an app would use that many cores. If you are curious, I encourage you to read my Are More Cores, Better? article.

In single-thread (single-core) performance, the Snapdragon 835 is clearly the fastest processor on Android. However, Apple still leads in single core performance by an impressive margin.

The graphics performance of Snapdragon 835 is astonishing. Within the Android platform, Snapdragon 835 creates a significant discontinuity that puts it into its own class. That is particularly true for graphics tests that use the OpenGL 3.1 API. Snapdragon 835 is also faster than Apple’s A10 present in the iPhone 7.

This is important for 3D games, but even more so for Virtual Reality (VR) apps that use every last bit of performance to reach extremely high framerates.

Conclusion: Fast!

Synthetic performance only shows a very small portion of a system’s total power. Most tests only stress a couple of major units such as CPU and GPU, mainly because they are well understood, and there are clear interfaces (APIs) to access them.

However, a system like Snapdragon 835 has other powerful units such as the ISP (image signal processor), DSP (digital signal processor) and other vector processors that are not as obvious to test but contribute in a major way in the real world.

Finally, there are also extremely low-power compute units which don’t help with peak performance but are critical for long battery life.

Without surprise, Snapdragon 835 is the de-facto best SoC (system on chip) available for Android handsets and tablet. Now we are curious to see how Samsung’s Exynos will compete against it. Looking industry-wide, Apple remains an extremely potent competitor who will up the ante in September when the next-gen Apple AXX processor is due.

The Snapdragon 835 developer hardware should be a good representation of what to expect when the Galaxy S8 is revealed in its full glory.

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