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This year’s best Android phones still might not be as fast as last year’s iPhone 6s

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 9:12PM EST
Snapdragon 820 Vs Apple A9

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We’ve said it countless times before and we’ll likely say it dozens of times more in the coming years: specs and benchmark test results on paper only tell part of the story. There’s no telling how a smartphone will perform when handling day-to-day tasks until you’re holding that smartphone in your hand and using it to perform those day-to-day tasks.

That said, specs and benchmarks are often a good indication of what we can expect from a smartphone, and newly discovered performance test results suggest that the brand new Snapdragon chip set to power this year’s flagship Android smartphones still might not be as fast as the Apple A9, which powers last year’s iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.

MUST SEE: 5 secret features hiding inside your iPhone

Apple’s 2015 iPhone lineup surprised a lot of people last year when it came to performance. While rival devices like the HTC One M9 and Samsung Galaxy S6 were powered by quad-core and octa-core processors backed up by cutting-edge GPUs and loads of RAM, the iPhone 6s and its larger counterpart were powered by a dual-core chip with just 2GB of RAM.

And yet performance tests showed that the iPhone 6s was the fastest smartphone on the planet.

With this year’s crop of flagship Android phones nearing release, new benchmark tests have emerged on GFXBench that show performance scores achieved Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon processor. Before we get into them, there are a few things that must be noted.

These test results are from a new Snapdragon 820 processor running on a test platform, not an actual smartphone that will be released to the public. In the past, real-world results have often been very similar to early scores like these, but chips are always tweaked and optimized for each device.

Also worth noting is the fact that this test platform includes a huge 6.2-inch display with 1600 x 2560 resolution. That’s a whole lot of pixels to power, so the margin by which on-screen test scores top current smartphones is that much more impressive.

But with all that having been said, it looks like in some key areas, last year’s iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are still going to be faster and more powerful than this year’s top Android phones fueled by the Snapdragon 820.

Here are the test results for the Snapdragon 820 that were discovered on the GFXBench site by Android Authority.

This link will take you to a page with performance test results for the iPhone 6s Plus.

As you can see, the new Snapdragon chip outclasses last year’s iPhone phablet in several tests. In others though, including some key onscreen tests, the 6s Plus outperforms Qualcomm’s new chip. This obviously makes sense considering the iPhone 6s Plus’s comparatively low resolution, but it translates to a faster and smoother user experience in smartphone owners’ hands.

Again, this is useful information to an extent, but we won’t know how the 820 performs in launch devices until said devices actually, you know, launch.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.