It’s time. Time to decide once and for all what is the fastest, most technically impressive smartphone in the world. Today. As objectively as it is humanly possible.
How are we going to do that? Simple, we’ll take three four of the Android top dogs and pit them against each other in a series of benchmarks. And yes, we know very well benchmark results can often be deceptive or a complete waste of time.
They can only measure the theoretical performance of a given device, CPU or GPU and in real life things can and often are very different. But do you know a better, unbiased, simpler way of determining the absolute champions of the mobile world? No, you don’t. And that’s why we’ll have to make do with these objective, but still deceptive numbers.
So get ready for the ride of your lives. The ultimate benchmark face-off between the Samsung Galaxy S4, Galaxy S4 LTE-A, HTC One and Sony Xperia Z Ultra starts in three, two, one:
One of the most popular benchmarking tools of today, AnTuTu is also one of the most contested and easy to fake. Then again, it’s almost become a marketing instrument lately and, in the grand scheme of things, you can say AnTuTu has made benchmarks mainstream.
But what exactly does AnTuTu measure? An array of things, including “Memory Performance”, “CPU Integer Performance”, “3D Graphics Performance” and “SD card reading/writing speed”, which it then combines for a final score. Naturally, the higher the score, the better.
Scores: Sony Xperia Z Ultra – 34,000
Galaxy S4 LTE-A – 31,000
Galaxy S4 (Snapdragon 600 variant) – 25,000
HTC One – 23,000
The above numbers are pretty self-explanatory and put the two Snapdragon 800-powered beasts clearly above the phones running on Snapdragon 600. Then again, we have to underline that the scores are not set in stone and, as is the case with most benchmarks, can vary from test to test.
Regardless of how many times the benchmarks will be performed however, we still expect the Z Ultra to edge its opponents. The gap is and will be narrow, but it’s there.
Put simply, Quadrant is a slightly less complex tool than AnTuTu, but generally regarded as more trustworthy. It also measures CPU and 3D graphics performance and, again, the higher the final score, the better.
Results: Galaxy S4 LTE-A – 18,500
Sony Xperia Z Ultra – 12,700
Galaxy S4 – 12,400
HTC One – 11,700
Whoa, what happened there? How come the S4 LTE-A wipes the floor with the Xperia Z Ultra? And what’s with the big gap between the two, since they pack the same CPU/GPU combo? Last but not least, why is the Snapdragon 800 inside Sony’s monster incapable of clearly edging Galaxy S4 and HTC One’s 600?
All valid questions, but sadly we don’t have clear-cut answers. Our best guess is the Z Ultra unit tested here was an early, pre-release prototype, but that’s just speculation. Anyhoo, the S4 LTE-A wins this battle… for now.
3D Mark (Ice Storm)
Another benchmark that measures CPU and GPU performance? Yes, but it’s the last one, I promise. And while it’s not as popular as the two earlier ones, it’s regarded as a professional level diagnostics tool by many.
Results: Xperia Z Ultra – 17,000
Galaxy S4 LTE-A – 17,000
HTC One – 11,000
Galaxy S4 – 10,600
That’s more like it. Based on these scores, the Z Ultra and GS4 LTE-A are equally as zippy and considerably faster than the “competition”, which makes sense. But how come the HTC One scores higher than the “original” S4, given the former has a 1.7 GHz Snapdragon 600 chip beneath the hood, while the latter comes with a 1.9 GHz CPU part of the same family in tow?
You got me, but it could have some connections with HTC and Samsung’s different software optimizations, skins and whatnot. Either that, or the tests were not performed in similar conditions, which is always reason for doubt when it comes to benchmarks.
We’ve wrapped up the CPU and GPU tests, so it’s time to move on. To a very popular browser speed measurement tool, where the lower the score, the better, since the results are actually a browser’s responsiveness in ms (milliseconds).
Scores: Samsung Galaxy S4 – 810
Sony Xperia Z Ultra – 835.4
HTC One – 1124
Samsung Galaxy S4 LTE-A – no data
Well, well, well, if it isn’t the “old” Galaxy S4 that wins this battle. Of course, one of the reasons it manages to snatch the crown is because the LTE-A variant hasn’t been tested in Sun Spider as of now. In a similar tool however, the “upgraded” S4 is essentially on-par with its predecessor, so all in all you can say we have two winners here and… two losers (sorry, Sony, HTC).
GLBenchmark 2.5 Egypt HD battery test
Part of the big, happy GLBenchmark family, this specific benchmark measures battery life in some wild conditions, so the final results are pretty laughable, with basically no high-end phone capable of running for more than five hours on a single charge.
Results: Galaxy S4 LTE-A – 3:35 hours
Galaxy S4 – 2:45
HTC One – no data
Sony Xperia Z UItra – no data
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t really expect Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 chip to be both considerably faster than the 600 and to go easier on the battery. But that does appear to be the case and the margin by which the S4 LTE-A wins this battle is pretty outrageous.
Meanwhile, based on other battery tests, I think it’s safe to assume the HTC One will never play in the same league as the GS4 LTE-A. As for the Z Ultra, we shall wait and see how it compares with its direct competitor, the only other Snapdragon 800-based phone around.
Disclaimer: It is a known fact that the Ultra and S4 LTE-A can’t be scored anywhere in the West (the former will come soon, the latter will likely never leave Asia). With that in mind, it might seem pointless to compare the two with phones that exist and are up for grabs virtually everywhere. But the primary target of this article is to prepare you for the imminent, spectacular wave of Snapdragon 800 phones. And on that note, we hope you’ve all understood how big of a progress that chip will be compared with its predecessor.