Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge: Snapdragon 820 vs Exynos 8890

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge: Snapdragon 820 vs Exynos 8890

Samsung's new Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge are all the rage in the smartphone world today, and rightly so: these are incredibly powerful pocket computing devices. By packaging the higher end specs to today's smartphone standards, both of these devices can conveniently manage pretty much anything they can throw at them effortlessly. However, even within these two devices, the differences do not end with one that has a larger screen and edge characteristics than the other; rather, there is also an innate difference between two Galaxy S7 models – one of which powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 chipset, while the other equipped with the exclusive Samsung Exynos 8890, and this is a cause for great debate right now. We will take a look at the main differences between the two in detail today.

The Snapdragon 820 variant of the Galaxy S7 has been officially released in the United States and China, while the rest of the world will receive an Exynos model. It has to do with the inclusion of a CDMA radio on the Snapdragon SoC, making it the most favorable choice for these two markets. In comparison, you will also find an Exynos model on Snapdragon in Canada.

Beyond this point, where Galaxy S7 is said, this automatically refers also to the biggest S7 edge brother, since the inside of both of these substantially identical devices, whether it is the Snapdragon model or the Exynos model.

First, let's take a look at the high-level differences before delving into the details of these.

Galaxy S7 Snapdragon 820 Galaxy S7 Exynos 8890
Quad core processor 2x Kryo @ 2.2 GHz 2x Kryo @ 1.7 GHz Octa-core 4x AP custom Mongoose at 2, 6 GHz 4x Cortex-A53 at 1, 6 GHz
GPU Adreno 530 Mali-T880 MP12 GPU
RAM 2x LPDDR4 RAM LPDDR4
14nm FinFET production process 14nm FinFET production process
10% faster single-core performance 20% faster multi-core performance
10-30% better GPU performance GPU performance reduction
Battery performance relatively poor 10-30% better battery life
Suspension / frame slo-mo at 240 fps No loss of framerate slo-mo videos
Poor audio output Better audio output / Wolfson DAC

From a summary perspective, it is clear that the Snapdragon 820 variant is stronger in some areas while the Exynos 8890 points the ladder in others. Let's take a look at the differences one by one.

CPU and core performance

From the first glance, it becomes evident that Snapdragon 820 and Exynos 8890 are different animals; one supports the traditional octa-core configuration which became all the rage in 2015, while the other (on paper) seems to be dated quad-core configuration. However, remember that Qualcomm returned to the quad-core after playing with an octa-core configuration with Snapdragon 810. Why the change? It has to do with how these microprocessors are arranged.

With the Exynos 8890, Samsung has followed the path of the big.LITTLE architecture that ARM has specified and which was mainstream last year. Under big.LITTLE, a SoC structured in such a way as to offer a mix of low power and high performance CPU cores for different workload needs. So, as you can see in the table above, Exynos 8890 has four Mongoose cores that handle the high-performance part, while the four Cortex-A53 that buzzes at 1.6GHz handle the low-power part of the processing capacity. Immensely powerful Mongoose cores are more than capable of outperforming even the toughest competition, but we'll get to that later.

With Snapdragon 820, Qualcomm returned to a quad-core configuration, opting for almost identical custom CPU cores nicknamed Kryo. Two of these run at 2, 15 GHz, while the remaining two hum at 1.7 GHz, with a difference of just ~ 450 MHz between the two. And here is the main difference between Qualcomm's approach and big.LITTLE architecture. While the different clock speeds are something that Snapdragon 820 borrows from big.LITTLE, here ends the similarity and the resulting installation basically a heterogeneous 2 2 asymmetric cluster. If we look at the processor layout breakdown, we can see that the Kryo LP cores (the 1, 7 GHz ones) have their L2 cache, and the Kryo HP cores have their L2 cache, with both separated by a large L3 cluster cache. By adopting this layout, Qualcomm maximized the use of heterogeneous computing (HC) in Snapdragon 820, achieving massive performance gains over last year's Snapdragon 810, despite the latter's octa-core configuration.

For the Galaxy S7, these different approaches to processor layout translate into a big difference that we also saw in the table above. Thanks to its heterogeneous layout, the Snapdragon 820 variant destroys its Exynos 8890 counterpart in single-core performance, and also surpasses the current champion, the Apple A9 chip of the iPhone 6s. However, when looking at multi-core performance, l shines the sheer power of the four Mongoose cores, making an almost 30% jump over the Qualcomm processor.

In the official numbers of Antutu from its v6 instrument, Snapdragon 820 records more impressive overall scores than the 8890 Exynos SoC. However, take these benchmark results with a grain of salt, because there are some facets of the Antutu test that are usually ignored. One, there is a difference between a device benchmark and a SoC benchmark, so Antutu doesn't tell the full story. Second, Antutu favors single core performance over multi-core results and the 820's HC approach offers an added advantage. This is even more significant because most real-world usage scenarios are not based on a single-core configuration.

In terms of real users, the fact that the Exynos 8890 variant outperforms Snapdragon 820 in almost every activity that is launched. PhoneBuff has prepared this fantastic speed test comparison video between Galaxy S7 Snapdragon 820 and Galaxy S7 Exynos 8890, and you can clearly see that Exynos is faster in loading and storing apps, and recalling them.

GPU performance

GPU an important differentiator between the two variants of the Galaxy S7. Qualcomm has opted for the Adreno 530 unit for Snapdragon 820, one of the most powerful GPUs on mobile devices. Samsung went with the Mali-T880 MP12 which is a major step up from the Mali-T760, and claims to be the most energy efficient GPU at the moment. This is also the only GPU that boasts 12 operating cores, making it a real beast, at least on paper.

In terms of performance, both Adreno 530 and Mali-T880 are very capable units, but the 530 takes the advantage over the T880 in terms of power and performance. For example, in GFX 3.1 Manhattan. the Snapdragon 820 version of the Galaxy S7 records an impressive score of 32 in the 1080p test outdoors and 16 in the 1080p test on the screen, compared to 29 of Exynos 8890 and 15 on the screen. Similarly, in Basemark X, Snapdragon 820 ranks almost 4,000 points above the Exynos 8890 variant. Interestingly, in Basemark ES 3.1 / Metal, the Exynos variant to take the lead, providing a plague of 733 compared to that of Snapdragon 624 It appears that the 12 processing cores have no match in the Android domain when it comes to raw graphics processing power, although still not quite up to the powerful GPU of the Apple iPhone 6s Plus.

In fact, whatever version you're getting, you can be sure that you have a very capable gaming machine and media consumption device in your palm. While Adreno faces Mali-T880 in benchmarks, real world performance won't show much difference. Also remember that rendering graphics on a much more tiring QHD screen than, for example, an FHD screen, so the fact that both the Snapdragon 820 and Exynos 8890 versions of the Galaxy S7 remain interesting a testimony of Samsung's optimizations.

Battery life

This is an interesting comparison, which clearly indicates how Samsung has managed to optimize its CPU in order to really make a difference in battery life. Both Snapdragon 820 and Exynos 8890 variants of the Galaxy S7 are equipped with a 3,000 mAh battery, while the S7 edge features a 3,600 mAh power supply. Since the battery capacities are exactly the same, as well as other connectivity options, purely up to the processor determine which ones survive the other. And in this case, Exynos 8890 the clear winner, recording almost 11 hours more in the GSMArena battery life rating.

This is particularly interesting because one of the main improvements that Qualcomm boasted for Snapdragon 820 compared to Snapdragon 810 was the optimization of power, especially in the GPU unit. Compared to the four Kryo cores of the 820, Exynos 8890 boasts eight cores, four of which run at a rather high 2.6 GHz, and are integrated by a GPU that runs on 12 cores. Given how hungry the Exynos 8890 is, it is quite surprising that Samsung has really been able to optimize its processing capabilities to such an extent that better battery performance is still achieved.

Audio Out

This was quickly noticed by a number of users and is becoming a major cause of concern for some Snapdragon users. The Exynos variant of the Galaxy S7 uses a Wolfson DAC, which offers much better audio output from both the audiophile and casual-listener standards. In comparison, the Snapdragon version has been reported to have a headphone audio output that can best be described as a sub-par. The low end is almost non-existent, and the high end is pierced. We cannot say with certainty that it is a production line that has had this problem or all, but an area where Exynos users have no complaints.

Slow motion video

This is another big problem that gives advice to the stairs in favor of Exynos 8890, and in reality it is not the fault of Snapdragon 820. Several users have reported that if you take a 240 fps slow motion video on the Snapdragon variant of the Galaxy S7, you end up with choppy output and skipped frames – a nonexistent issue in the Exynos version. An example of this problem can be seen in the video below.

This problem may not be a puzzle for most people, and honestly, something that Samsung should easily be able to solve via an OTA update. disappointing, however, that the problem is in the first place and has gone beyond Samsung's quality control.

So, this summarizes the main differences between Galaxy S7 Snapdragon 820 and Galaxy S7 Exynos 8890. While you gain some and lose some with both, remember that both are exceptionally capable flagship smartphones that you won't regret. However, if I had to choose a winner, well, I'm happy to have the Exynos 8890 device.