For the most part, this split has been rather inconsequential from a consumer point of view, as the chips were always highly similar in terms of overall performance. In fact, back in March, we found that the Exynos-based S7 is essentially identical to the Snapdragon one in terms of processing power, managing highly comparable scores in various synthetic benchmarks. What we had reasons to suspect, but had insufficient data to back up, however, is that the Exynos variant is superior in terms of efficiency. Vastly superior, in fact.
New data comes to light
Made exclusively available to PhoneArena by the creators of GameBench—a tool aimed at developers that are looking to identify and fix performance issues with their apps—a new, revealing data set is reminding us that we have some unfinished work here. In short, the folks behind the benchmark suite have spent quite some time testing the two Galaxy S7 models, along with the Snapdragon 820-based HTC 10 and LG G5. The tests included audio playback through both Spotify and Tidal, and video watching via both YouTube and Netflix. In concert with our own, custom battery tests, we now have an adequate number of data points to revisit the topic.
Here's GameBench's methodology for the video streaming tests:
• Streaming through LTE with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned off;
• Only 12 user-installed apps, some of which logged in and sending in notifications;
• Streaming 30 minute clips at automatic quality settings for both YouTube and Netflix;
• The Snapdragon 820-based Galaxy S7 had Verizon bloatware that may or may not have affected power efficiency
GameBench's methodology for the audio streaming tests was the same as before, plus:
• Playing a song for 30 minutes;
• Always On Display turned off;
• Spotify set to Extreme quality;
• Tidal set to Hi-Fi quality
Finally, our own custom battery benchmark scores for the Exynos/Snapdragon Galaxy S7, plus the HTC 10 and LG G5:
Using the data above and with the help of a calculator, we can conclude the following:
• The global (Exynos-based) Galaxy S7 is, on average, over 71% more efficient than its US (Snapdragon-based) twin;
• The Exynos 8890 in the S7 is also more efficient than the Snapdragon 820 in the HTC 10 and LG G5;
• When it comes to audio playback, the Snapdragon 820 is only slightly behind;
• The Snapdragon 820-based Galaxy S7 is the least efficient of the bunch;
While we all get to watch video on YouTube, and many of us stream music through Spotify, these are just two out of many activities a phone goes through. In combination with our test, however, which is built to mimic typical real world use, we can draw some conclusions.
GALAXY S7 OWNERS IN THE STATES DREW THE SHORT STICK, IT SEEMS!
First and foremost, it seems that US Galaxy S7 users drew the short stick, as despite the Snapdragon 820 offering essentially identical processing power, it does seem to seriously lag behind in terms of efficiency. Sure, it being a Verizon model with extra bloatware, we can attribute some of the drain to these two uninstallable apps (My Verizon Mobile and VZ Protect), but we have no reason to believe that they're entirely responsible for the massive delta between the performance of the two flavors.
The rest of the data clearly shows that the Exynos 8890 within the Galaxy S7 is also more power-efficient than the Snapdragon 820 in the HTC 10 and LG G5, especially in terms of video streaming. Our very own tests show a 62% delta between the Exynos and Snapdragon variants of the S7, which is disconcerting.