One of AnandTech's more in-depth coverage pieces last year was our analysis of the two different version of the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy Note9. Specifically we covered the quite large differences between units offered with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 and Samsung’s own Exynos 9810.

This year again we’re seeing Samsung continue their dual-sourcing strategy in the new Galaxy S10. This time we’re pitting the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 against Samsung’s own new Exynos 9820. We were able to extensively benchmark the new Snapdragon 855 back at CES – however we don’t know much about the new Exynos 9820.

At last year’s Galaxy S9 reveal at MWC2018 we were able to benchmark the phone immediately after the press event. Unfortunately this year with Samsung dedicating the launch to a completely different event in San Francisco, we weren’t able to get our hands on the units immediately. It took a while, but with the help of some fellow colleagues over at TechRadar, I was able to briefly have access to both units of the Galaxy S10 and run some quick benchmarks.

I kept things to a minimum and opted to just run PCMark and Speedometer 2.0 – both benchmarks are some of my favourite in terms of representing the true perceived performance and experience of a smartphone. Both phones were set in performance mode and were running firmware as sampled by Samsung.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Web Browsing 2.0PCMark Work 2.0 - Web Browsing 2.0

In PCMark’s Web Browsing test, the new Galaxy S10s both perform well. What is interesting to see here is that compared to the scores we initially ran on Qualcomm’s reference device back in January, the Snapdragon 855 Galaxy S10 represents a notable uplift, and seems to be a better representation of the capability of the chip compared to the QRD.

It’s to be noted that the comparisons I’m making today are all on the new Android 9 firmwares – I don’t have updated figures for the Exynos S9 or the Snapdragon Note9, but have the latest numbers on the Snapdragon S9 and Exynos Note9, which should be identical to their sister series' counter-parts.

The new Exynos 9820 Galaxy S10 now showcases a large performance upgrade compared to last year’s Exynos 9810 units. The new chip’s figures are good and better than the Snapdragon 845, however aren’t able to match either the Snapdragon 855 nor the HiSilicon Kirin 980 – the latter two both based on Arm’s newest Cortex A76 CPU cores.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Video Editing PCMark Work 2.0 - Video Editing

The video editing test is less relevant nowadays as performance differences between different platforms are quite minor. Still the new Exynos still shows a distinct performance difference to the Snapdragon counter-part, similar to what we saw last year.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Writing 2.0PCMark Work 2.0 - Writing 2.0

The writing test is probably the single most important component of PCMark when it comes to representing the experienced performance of a device. The Snapdragon 855 Galaxy S10 falls in line with the QRD’s performance, which is excellent.

The new Exynos 9820 Galaxy S10 represents a major jump for Samsung, scoring double what we’ve seen on the Exynos 9810 units last year. Likely what this means is that Samsung has solved some of the most important performance issues plaguing the Exynos S9/Note9. The phone still lags behind the new Snapdragon 855 as well as the Kirin 980. We’re not sure if this continued difference is due to hardware or scheduler, and we won’t be able to find out until a more in-depth investigation at a later date.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Photo Editing 2.0PCMark Work 2.0 - Photo Editing 2.0

In the Photo Editing test we see the new Exynos 9820 similarly performing almost twice as well as last year’s Samsung silicon. Here it’s clearer that the difference is due to new improved scheduler reactivity as the workload isn’t necessarily throughput limited. The continued performance detriment to the Snapdragon and Kirin chipsets however still points our that Samsung’s APIs still aren’t as well optimised.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Data Manipulation PCMark Work 2.0 - Data Manipulation

Finally, the Data Manipulation score is more single-thread limited workload. Here, the new Snapdragon 855 Galaxy S10 takes the top spot among devices. The new Exynos 9820 doesn’t fall too far behind, and does represent a big boost over the Galaxy S9 in either versions.

Speedometer 2.0 - OS WebViewSpeedometer 2.0 - OS WebView

Switching over to a browser benchmark, the new Galaxy S10s both perform almost identically. The performance of the Snapdragon 855 is a bit better than the QRD we tested in January, however it’s still lagging behind the Kirin 980.

The Exynos 9820’s performance here represents a huge boost compared to the Exynos 9810. The score presented here not only represents the possibly much better scheduler, but also hardware improvements on the part of the new cluster and microarchitecture designs.

Performance looks “OK” for the Exynos – Though Snapdragon looks to be leading

Overall the new Galaxy S10s are both in line with expectations. The Snapdragon 855 Galaxy S10’s performance isn’t much of a surprise, as we had covered the chipset in detail at Qualcomm’s performance preview event. The Galaxy S10 actually performs better than the QRD – putting to rest some of the worries we had on the early platform. It’s to be noted that Qualcomm here still lags a tad behind HiSilicon’s Kirin 980 in some aspects, probably a result of the latter’s better memory latency.

The new Exynos 9820 performs significantly better than last year’s 9810. Here Samsung seems to have taken note of the scheduler slowness that has plagued the last 3 generations of Samsung SoCs. Besides some obvious software improvements, the new M4 microarchitecture also seems to have upped the performance. Samsung claims 20% better performance than the 9810, which looks to be reasonable.

Battery Life To Be Determined

Today’s results only represent a bare minimum in terms of benchmarking Samsung’s new devices. While the new Exynos 9820 can’t keep up to the Snapdragon 855 in terms of performance, it’s no longer such a stark difference as we saw last year.

Most importantly, there’s still one big open question: power efficiency. As we’ve covered in our preview of the Snapdragon 855, the new Cortex A76 derived cores on a new 7nm process node showcase some outstanding efficiency figures. HiSilicon’s Kirin 980 is able to power some of highest endurance flagship devices today, and I expect the Snapdragon 855 to be able to achieve the same. If the new Exynos is able to achieve the same is something we’ll have to find out at a later date. We have to remember that Samsung’s chipset not only has to fix its microarchitectural efficiency issues, but also comes with a process manufacturing disadvantage as the chip is produced on a (theoretically) inferior 8nm process.

Unfortunately we won’t have the Galaxy S10 in-house for review until after public availability on March 8th – so we’ll have to be a little more patient before we can post a more detailed analysis of Samsung’s new flagship devices.

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  • tuxRoller - Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - link

    From the article (emphasis mine):
    "It’s to be noted that the comparisons I’m making today ARE ALL ON THE NEW ANDROID 9 FIRMWARES – I don’t have updated figures for the Exynos S9 or the Snapdragon Note9, BUT HAVE THE LATEST NUMBERS ON THE SNAPDRAGON S9 AND EXYNOS NOTE9"
  • cha0z_ - Thursday, February 28, 2019 - link

    Saw that, but as you can see some of the numbers are off with a big margin. I have the exynos note 9 running stock android 9 csb3 currently (the latest is csb5 for some regions, few days old). Not like it will make a lot of difference if the scores are correct + the conclusion will be the same overall, but those are not, I had run pcmark 10 times in 3 different totally stock firmwares (one is of the Germany region when it was first released, second are Jan/Feb for my region after a clean flash/wipe). All of them are higher than the ones in the article. The scores posted by me are not the highest I got either, just the ones I run 5m before I post.
  • tuxRoller - Wednesday, March 6, 2019 - link

    So you've got one of the good phones. What's that to do with the scores Andrei achieved with the tested device?
  • cha0z_ - Thursday, February 28, 2019 - link

    Just ran speedometer 2.0 and the score is 37.5. In this article it's stated 34.5, the score I got is 8.7% higher (two runs).

    Yes, the conclusion is the same as I said already, but he put the exynos 9810 in far grimmer light that it really is (and believe me as I tell you that the exynos 9810 is pure garbage of SOC that is more of a midrange category vs high-end one).
  • GC2:CS - Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - link

    It's definitely nice to see significant performance upgrades with this generation of SoC.
    On the other hand, are they as significant when we consider past years ? It seems to me like delivering a big upgrade after a few generations of what I consider "chilling out".

    I see EUV as quite a performance boost... if it can get ramped up.
  • cknobman - Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - link

    Gary Explains did a full test of the S10+ SD vs Exynos here:

    The Exynos was down right embarrassing!!
  • eastcoast_pete - Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - link

    Thanks Andrei! Shame on Samsung for the attempt to freeze you and AT out of the pool of early reviewers - that act by itself tells me a lot about Samsung's own doubts about their new Exynos flagship. Maybe they should stop throwing good money after bad, retire Mongoose, and just go with plain vanilla A76 big cores; that worked well for HiSilicon/Huawei.
    My second takehome from this is that Qualcomm's strategy of having one of their big cores run really fast to speed up single-threaded processes seems to work, and not just in theory. I expect that the 1Fast&Big+1-3Big + 4-6 Little core design will spread both to other QC SoCs and other makers SoC designs.
  • beginner99 - Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - link

    At this point I really wonder whats the point of the exynos SOC?
  • wrkingclass_hero - Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - link

    I know I'm in the minority, but historically the Samsung sensors had better color reproduction, and the video encode block was superior as well (Snapdragon's was bugged and produced excessive macroblocking in 4K a few years ago).
    I would be very interested in a side by side camera comparison, specifically looking at color reproduction and advanced video features (HDR10+ video capture may show noteable differences).
  • Lavkesh - Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - link

    This is what happens when you design an SOC for Geekbench single core benchmark just to match Apple but fall apart as soon as you engage the second core. Samdung again doing what it is best at.

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