Jul 15 AT 4:17 PM Taylor Wimberly 68 Comments

What is the fastest Android phone?

In the early days of Android, most devices featured the same 528 MHz ARM11 Qualcomm processor and their performance levels were pretty comparable. It was not until Verizon launched the Motorola Droid that we began to see the next generation of chipsets being used, which offered new features like enhanced graphics processors.

Fast forward to today and we now have three major chipsets being used in high-end Android phones. HTC is using the Qualcomm Snapdragon, while Motorola has chosen the Texas Instruments OMAP, and Samsung has designed their own Hummingbird chipset.

All of these processors are based off a similar ARM Cortex-A8 architecture, but each one has been tweaked to offer unique features.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon was the first chipset to bring 1 GHz speeds to Android, but it has the slowest GPU of the three. We have measured this in graphics benchmarks and it has the lowest performance in 3D games (when compared to other 1 GHz chipsets). Qualcomm is hard at work producing a dual-CPU Snapdragon, but no products that use the new chipset have been announced.

Samsung and Texas Instruments have a step up on Qualcomm because they just released their own 1 GHz processors which are based on a 45nm process and utilize faster PowerVR graphics processors from Imagination Technology.

To summarize, the three high-end chipsets being used in Android phones are:

  • Qualcomm: 1 GHz 65nm Cortex-A8 + Adreno GPU
  • Texas Instruments: 1 GHz 45nm Cortex-A8 + PowerVR SGX530
  • Samsung: 1 GHz 45nm Cortex-A8 + PowerVR SGX540

So which Android phones perform the fastest? I wish there was a simple answer, but it depends on a variety of factors including display resolutions, memory, and the version of Android that is installed.

To get a better idea of how the different phones stack up, we turn to Quadrant Professional from Aurora Softworks. A free version of this benchmark was available on the Android Market, but the new versions are only found at alternative app-store SlideME.

The phones we are testing today include:

  • HTC Magic (CM6 RC1) – 528 MHz Qualcomm MSM7200
  • Motorola Droid – 550 MHz OMAP3430
  • HTC EVO – 1 GHz Snapdragon QSD8650
  • HTC Nexus One (Android 2.2) – 1 GHz Snapdragon QSD8250
  • Samsung Captivate – 1 GHz Hummingbird S5PC110
  • Motorola Droid X – 1 GHz OMAP3640

All phones are running unmodified versions of the firmware, except for the HTC Magic which has CyanogenMod 6 installed since I wanted to preview what Android 2.2 might bring to the device.

CPU TEST

Quadrant CPU

Phones with Android 2.2 top the CPU tests.

In the CPU test, the Nexus One came out on top thanks to Android 2.2 and the new JIT compiler. Even though the HTC Magic has the slowest CPU, it came in second place also thanks to the performance boost of Android 2.2.

Of the phones running Android 2.1, the Captivate (Galaxy S) came out on top and the Droid was in last. When these phones are updated to Android 2.2, we should see scores that beat out the Nexus One.

MEMORY TEST

Quadrant memory

The two phones with 45nm processors win this round.

I’m not exactly sure how the memory is tested in this benchmark, but the Droid X takes the lead. The Captivate is the only other phone with a 45nm processor and it generated a comparable score.

The EVO and Nexus One scored about the same so it does not look like Android 2.2 had any effect on the Snapdragon phones.

I/O TEST

I cannot explain these results.

I have no explanation for these results.

This is where things get interesting. When we break down the individual tests in Quadrant, we can see the I/O test is the main reason that the Droid X has been topping the Captivate (Galaxy S) in the overall scores.

The I/O part of the benchmark performs four test which include file system writes, file system reads, database writes, and database reads.

The Droid X generates scores that are three times faster than the closest phone and I really have no idea why. We have reached out to the developer of this benchmark in hopes he can give us a better explanation.

Update: As noted in the comments, it appears some open source devs have found a “fix” which brings the Galaxy S scores up to the levels of the Droid X.

GRAPHICS TEST

Quadrant graphics

The Captivate (Galaxy S) has the fastest GPU.

Just like we found in our extensive GPU testing, the Samsung Captivate (Galaxy S) has the fastest GPU. This is because it has a PowerVR SGX540 and the Droid X has the older PowerVR SGX530.

Notice the difference between the Nexus One and EVO. Both phones have the same 1 GHz Snapdragon, but it appears that Android 2.2 helped increase the scores.

If the scores look out of whack on the HTC Magic, that is because it’s the only phone with a HVGA resolution so it pushes fewer pixels and performs less work.

QUADRANT PRO FINAL SCORES

Quadrant Pro total

Thanks to the scores in the CPU test, the Nexus One wins.

When all the individual tests are added up, the Android 2.2-powered Nexus One generates the highest score in Quadrant. This is solely due to the CPU test which benefited from the new JIT compiler found in Android 2.2.

Coming in second place is the Droid X. Once again, this placement is mainly caused by the result of the I/O test where the Droid X scored 3x higher than the competition. We are still waiting to find out what caused this score, so be on the lookout for further updates.

The Samsung Captivate clearly has the fastest GPU and it performs neck and neck with the Droid X in the other tests (minus I/O). Even though Quadrant ranks the Droid X higher, I believe the Galaxy S has better overall performance (CPU + GPU).

CONCLUSIONS

This debate is far from over, but I think we can draw a few conclusions. I would love to hear what you guys think in the comments.

  • The Snapdragon is the slower than the OMAP and Hummingbird
  • Android 2.2 offers better CPU and GPU performance over Android 2.1
  • Samsung’s Hummingbird chipset has the fastest graphics processor
  • Android needs better benchmarks, but Quadrant Pro is a good start

If you have any theories on why the Droid X has such high scores in the I/O test, we would love to hear them. Make sure you visit SlideME.org if you want to download the new Quadrant and try these tests on your device.

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • http://Website Frank

    I just can’t believe we are at the point where we’re comparing phone processing speeds. Great times.

    • http://www.niola.net Jon Niola

      @Frank

      Yeah it is amazing! Even more amazing is to think that the phones we have now have more processing power than the average desktop had just 10 years ago lol.

      • Haulngas

        Morning after day of New Phone release at the office water cooler. My phone is faster then your phone.

        • http://Website Maciek

          Yes…but does yours bring milkshake to the backyard?

          • http://Website JohnB

            The following site shows the result for Quadrant benchmarks of just about all Android phones on the market today. It is also being updated quite frequently from what I gather.

            http://smartphonebenchmarks.com

            It shows results for even overclocked phones!

  • http://Website Mike K.

    Thanks for these benchmarks.

  • http://Website Björn

    Something messy with the samsung I/O. Moving the apps db to external SD card gets results at 1400-1700:
    http://android.modaco.com/index.php?s=&showtopic=313365&view=findpost&p=1344806

    So the bad samsung I/O is fixable.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Ah, that was the news I was looking for. I knew something had to be off. Hopefully they get this fixed when Android 2.2 rolls out.

      • http://Website caelestis2

        Yeah, but how about the nexus one? Why does it score as low on an I/O test? Internal memory isnt something that has progressed rapidly in speed, so I don’t understand how it jumps when using an SD card.

        • http://Website cokata

          well this may be down to the fact thet the droid x and the galaxy s phones are the only ones that use the newer and faster LPDDR2 memory instead of the LPDDR1 on the snapdragons

    • http://Website Lars

      Is that not a feature of Android 2.2 due in September for Galaxy i9000?

    • http://Website Z80

      Very interesting thoughts.

      It may explain why my Desire HD based ROM installed on the SD card besides Windows Mobile on my HD2 has far better overall performance than the Nexus One 2.2 on the benchmark : processor performance is inferior, but I/O performance is gigantic in comparison (almost 10 times faster), and memory speed is even slightly better ! o_O

      My card is a Sandisk 32 GB class 2 micro SDHC. It’s 1 1/2 year old and I was previously happily using it on my HD (which now uses back its original Sandisk 8 GB card). This card is pretty fast and reliable, actually, no matter the “class 2″ label… Current devices can’t use faster ones without trouble anyway.

  • http://Website Mike K.

    The lead-in image shows a graph that says the Samsung Galaxy has 2.2, but the text of the article states you’re testing it with 2.1. I’m assuming the SGS hasn’t been rooted yet and you are, in fact, actually using 2.1 with it?

    If so, putting Froyo on it would make the CPU scores so much sweeter.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Yeah that image says Galaxy S < 2.2. Only the Nexus and Magic had 2.2 running.

      • http://sundazed.net iSunday

        I would love to see you guys run this back once Galaxy S 2.2 port is done (hopefully this week). Since the Captivate code is out there, I’m assuming it shouldn’t be long.

  • http://Website caelestis2

    The benchmark isn’t weighted properly in my opinion. I/O accounts more for CPU and GPU combined? lol

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Yeah I still think the Galaxy S is faster in real world apps and games. I’m not sure exactly how it is weighted, but maybe they will adjust that.

    • http://Website ari-free

      yeah I/O makes a big difference for responsiveness.

  • http://Website Gab

    what about the G1? hahah I use CM6 and I hope it improved the phone’s speed.
    Brazil, São Paulo

    • http://Website Daniel

      2.2 might improve the performance of the G1, but don’t expect too much: the device doesn’t even have enough memory to handle the JIT well. So, the main point of speed is scrapped.

      • http://bioscoopagenda.dope-e.nl dopee

        I’ve run the standard Quadrant benchmark on my G1 with CM6 RC1. I enabled JIT, compcache and swap and get about the same result as the MT3G 2.2 and Droid.

  • K-K

    thanx alot for the video .. its much appreciated ,, absolutely the best show off between these power phones .. if only the captivate would have the front facing camera and the flash .. it would be the almost perfect smartphone .. considering some ppl like having a qwerty keyboard ..

  • http://Website MooQ

    The only thing that I see is that this benchmark is a uselesse piece of crap software. Same goes for almost all Benchmarking software, no matter the system.
    If you are blessed with the rare gift of common sense and logical thinking and not hypnotized of some shiny colorful bars you should come to the same conclusion.

  • http://Website caelestis2

    The benchmark is useful. Just not useful when you compile every benchmark into one score.

    This tells me that the hummingbird is indeed faster than a standard a8-cortex, and the PowerVR 540 is indeed twice better than the 530.

  • http://Website webby

    The Droid X was released today and sold every unit Verizon could find — I can’t believe you didn’t include the Droid X in your comparison test.

    • http://Website Boyakasha

      huh?

    • http://Website caelestis2

      Maybe he doesn’t know what a moto shadow is…

    • http://Website chuck

      It’s definitely listed in every one of those results…

      • http://Website webby

        Thanks … when I looked again, I found the DX in the results. When I looked the first time, I started watching the video, and the Droid X is definitely NOT in his video.

  • http://Website Bird

    I would like to see how a nexus compared with 2.1

    • http://Website ari-free

      that’s on the chart on top. It says nexus One <2.2 (dunno why it doesn't use the more obvious 2.1)

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      See the EVO. It’s the same thing.

  • http://Website ari-free

    froyo is so important, it’s not even funny.

  • http://Website JAG

    WOW, the DROID X is still good, too bad for the locked boot

  • http://www.ghduk.org/ ghd straighteners uk

    that was the news I was looking for. I knew something had to be off. Hopefully they get this fixed when Android 2.2 rolls out.

  • http://Website jason

    It really is amazing what froyo can do. My OG droid is on froyo (overclocked as well) and it beats or bests the froyo N1. I can consistently get 1500+ plus scores. Bring the froyo!

  • http://io1.blogspot.com patsch

    And 2011 will be the year of the multicore mobile phones! At least if I look at the A9 specs that’s what comes to my mind: http://www.arm.com/products/processors/cortex-a/cortex-a9.php Or what do you think?

  • http://www.ericfortin.ca Eric

    Its funny, i just realized that my phone (HTC Magic) is almost as powerful as my laptop… (800mhz 256ram)

  • http://dimitrisblog.gr Dimitris

    Oh come on! Where is the HTC Desire?

    • http://Website cokata

      evo=droid incredable=nexus one=desire atleast when it comes to SoC(system on a chip) with the exception that the evo uses slightly diffrent scorpian cpu it has the same performance but supports WiMax also it has 1GB of ROM instead of 512 .There may be some slight diffrences in internal memmory performance but i doubt that,so those 4 phones should be almost identical when it comes to performance

  • http://www.PeterSouza.com/ Peter Souza

    Just for comparison, I fired up Quadratic Advanced on my Droid 1. It’s using CyanogenMod 6 RC1 and jdlfg’s v2.1.32.2.2 CM kernel clocked at 1.1 GHz (1.2 GHz isn’t stable for me). Results gave me 1,559 on a second pass (due to JIT on Froyo).

    Here’s a screen shot:

    http://www.petersouza.com/snap20100716_150959.png

    Droid 1 can definitely keep up, but will be no match once we get overclocking going on some of these new phones. :D

  • http://Website Matt

    Good article, but I find it a little biased to report the G1 scores. It did well due to the fact that it’s rooted and has CM6 helping it.

    The Droid should have been rooted with a similar enhancement if you wanted to show what rooted phones can do vs. stock phones.

    Not a big deal, but be consistent if you’re going to do something this in-depth.

  • http://Website Counsel

    I’d like to see deck v. Rooted for each device as well as 2.1 and 2.2 fir stock and rooted.

    That would let us compare more apples to apples..

  • http://sean-the-electrofreak.blogspot.com/ Sean the Electrofreak

    Thank you Taylor for these benchmarks and the work you put into figuring this all out. I know I’ve been bugging you about it but I was REALLY looking forward to a good benchmark comparison.

    I’m still wondering what put the Droid X so far ahead of the Galaxy S in the initial benchmarks you posted (http://androidandme.com/2010/05/news/high-end-android-phones-benchmarked-with-quadrant/). Possibly the Galaxy S was running beta drivers or some such.

    Regarding the memory speed improvement, I’m pretty sure it has to do with LPDDR2 memory being used in these new 45 nm SoCs as opposed to the slower LPDDR in the 65 nm ones.

    Anyhow, thanks again for writing this piece.

    • http://sean-the-electrofreak.blogspot.com/ Sean the Electrofreak

      “Possibly the Galaxy S was running beta drivers or some such.” Or, duh, since you were running the free version of Quadrant at the time, and it was adding the IO scores to the CPU scores etc, we were looking at the same results you had above just we didn’t know that it was the IO score giving the “Shadow” the edge. You said as much in your video.

      :: Goes and gets some coffee ::

  • http://Website engineer

    Thank you guys so much, you have made my choice so much easier. I have been on the fence on whether to get the Vibrant (tmobile’s galaxy s variant) or if to wait for the droid X on gsm or wait for some newer better phones (2ghz anyone) to come out.
    Guess its vibrant for me.

    Thanks and keep up the good work

  • http://Website martin

    makes my HTC Magic feel really slow and old :P

  • http://evaryont.me Evaryont

    While I don’t argue any of these tests, I just want to nitpick. The Droid X is not Droid 2, like the labels in the charts imply. Droid 2 is a seperate device, coming out later.

    That said, I don’t remember the specs for D2, so perhaps it and Droid X are similar enough that they could be grouped like that..?

  • http://Website Fictionise

    Sweet, glad to know my phone is still awesome even though all this new awesome phones has arrived.

    Go Nexus! Your mark will remain in our mark for a long time!

  • http://Website Nishant

    I can’t wait to see all this test when Galaxy S , HTC EVO and Droid X gets 2.2 update. Right now, Galaxy S seems to be the strongest smartphone (Just my opinion and you can also see the benchmarks test) .

  • http://Website Cassius Vinicius

    My Motorola Milestone 2.1-update1′s score is 332, too weak :-(.

  • http://Website JL

    Its nice to see the “obsolete” Nexus One isn’t so obsolete – LOL!

  • http://xperiaandroid.com xperia android user

    cool benchmark.. just wonder, why Sony ericsson Xperia X10 not on the list? ;)
    hopefully the Xperia X10 could compete the Nexus One.

  • http://Website sam

    can you plz include xperia x10? even if its not 2.1

  • http://Website jeff

    I’m new to trying to understand these and other benchmarks. Could you explain your understanding of why GLbenchmark.com has the Droid as the fastest “CPU Performance: Integer” device compared to your results having it the slowest in “CPU Test”?

  • http://Website Cannoli

    One thing i’d like to point out , is that as far as graphics go , the Droid X has an 854×480 screen compared to 800×480 on the Galaxy S , so it has about another `26000 pixels to generate , or about 7% more than the galaxy S. Although even adding 7% to the Xs score the galaxy s should have a considerable lead anyway in graphics.

    No one would compare GPU scores on two screens with different resolutions in a desktop gpu , so i think its worth mentioning.

    • http://Website Shanikwa Johnson

      Troll

    • http://Website Yoda

      Galaxy S is capped at 56fps. That 3D planet ran at 56fps max, so the score should be higher for Galaxy S. I guess that even up with the 7%.

      • http://Website Vinayak Naik

        i have achived 1800 on my samsung galaxy s after updating the ram to xxjp3 & flashed oclf

  • http://Website Marc Ryan

    Hello,

    Here’s a speed-hack http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=748596 which does away with the really poor I/O performance, and it’s noticable in every way, not only in the Benchmark (you get at least 2000+ points in Quadrant)

  • http://Website Marc Ryan

    I forgot to mention, that this Speed-Hack (http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=748596)doesn’t require an external SD-Card….

  • http://Website Sven

    I’m really want to know what the galaxy S is going to do once it received it’s 2.2 update….

    • http://Website drtanu007

      got 2,120 -2200 with stock firmware rooted and lag fix 2… before rooting i was in the 800 range… galaxy s is flying now!!!!! lag fix absolutely recommended for all galaxy s users..

      galaxy s LEADS!!!! buy almost 1000 points over n1 with froyo 2.1… imho if galaxy s is updated to 2.2 the score should me around 3000 !!!! THATS crazy stuff…

  • http://evert.meulie.net/ Evert

    I’m looking forward to see where the HTC Desire HD would end up in these benchmarks! :-)

    greetings,
    Evert

  • http://Website ultimatetux

    HTC Desire HD gives 2100 points, and yellow bar is ways bigger than below ones ;)

  • http://Website Tom

    Hmm, interesting research. I like the comparisons but I have overclocked my Moto Droid to 1.2ghz with cyanogen and a custom kernel. It runs just as fast as anything out there now and I got it October 09

  • http://koowie.com Koowie

    Awesome when we can compare phone processing speeds. Shows how far phones have come.