Praised in reviews, the Galaxy S7 and HTC 10 are the top Android handsets you can buy this year. But if you’re a mobile gaming addict, then these devices aren’t the smartphones you are looking for. Instead, you should be picking up an iPhone 6s, iPhone SE or even the much older iPhone 6.
At least that’s the conclusion Gizmodo’s Alex Cranz came to after looking at gaming benchmarks for the latest iPhones and the top new Android options out there.
Cranz explained that CPU and GPU benchmarks don’t tell the full story when it comes to real-world mobile gaming. Furthermore, there aren’t that many dedicated services to offer testers a way to measure gaming performance on mobile operating systems objectively.
But it can still be done, and a service called GameBench has the answers you’re looking for. The tests analyze FPS, CPU, GPU and battery consumption. GameBench also revealed that most games are capped at either 30fps or 60fps – at least, the “more intense” ones – to save battery life.
All the iPhones mentioned above can consistently offer frame rates of 60 fps, while top Android devices including the Galaxy S7, HTC 10 and LG G5 can’t.
“The iPhone SE, Apple’s tiny ‘budget’ phone, features the same top of the line guts as the iPhone 6S, and it hits the cap. Every time,” Cranz said. “Even my two-year-old iPhone 6 has no problem maintaining 59fps in Lara Croft Go (a wicked fun game with some sweet, if grueling, graphics).”
He continued, “But the Samsung S7 Edge with its fancy Snapdragon 820 processor and Adreno 530 GPU? Hovers around 44fps. And the LG G5—which features the same processor? 42 frames per second. Even the brand-spanking new HTC 10managed only 44 frames per second.”
It’s likely that older Android flagships or current mid-range devices do even worse in similar tests.
This “problem” will hardly be a big deal to many smartphone users. But it goes to show that beefing up Android hardware isn’t enough to ensure an iPhone-grade gaming experience. What the Android gaming universe lacks is optimization from developers, which still big focus on the iPhone.
Android’s gaming future seems to be bright, though Android fans might have to wait to see any results. “I think the iPhone’s supremacy is a legacy of how mobile has evolved, and doesn’t necessarily dictate the future. The Android platform is moving forward (e.g. with the Vulkan API, which is the Android equivalent to Metal), and developers and middleware providers are taking Android much more seriously as a source of commercial success, so there is every hope that Android will catch up,” GameBench’s Sharif Sakr told Gizmodo.
Meanwhile, Apple’s iPhone tech from last year beats the best Android can offer today when it comes to real-life usage and gaming performance. And the iPhone 7 is just around the corner.