Google Nexus 4 vs. Samsung Galaxy S III: Fan favorites

GSMArena team, 21 December 2012.

Synthetic benchmarks

The Google Nexus 4 uses a Qualcomm APQ 8064 Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset, which packs the new generation Krait CPU cores and the new generation Adreno 320 GPU. The Samsung Galaxy S III meanwhile relies on Cortex-A9 CPU cores and Mali-400.

As it turns out, the older design holds up very well against the powerful newcomer and wins several rounds, though as we've noted before, it's more because of optimization than having comparable raw power.

Let's start with the CPU performance. The Google Nexus 4 posts a slow time in Benchmark Pi - slower than both the Galaxy S III and the LG Optimus G. It wins out in Linpack, but not by a big margin - it's on the level of the Galaxy Note II, which uses the same chipset as the S III but clocked higher.

Geekbench 2 puts the Galaxy S III above the Optimus G, but the Nexus 4 came out on top.

Benchmark Pi

Lower is better

  • HTC One X+
    280
  • LG Optimus G
    285
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    305
  • HTC One X (Tegra 3)
    330
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    350
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    359
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    362
  • Nexus 4
    431

Linpack

Higher is better

  • LG Optimus G
    608
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    214.3
  • Nexus 4
    213.5
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    189.1
  • HTC One X+
    177.7
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    175.5
  • HTC One X
    160.9
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    141.5

Geekbench 2

Higher is better

  • Nexus 4
    2100
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    2000
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    1845
  • LG Optimus G
    1723
  • HTC One X (Tegra 3)
    1634
  • Apple iPhone 5
    1601

AnTuTu and Quadrant both test overall system performance and their opinions are split - AnTuTu puts the Nexus 4 comfortably on top, while Quadrant rated the Samsung Galaxy S III higher and put the Nexus at the bottom.

AnTuTu

Higher is better

  • Nexus 4
    15146
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    13562
  • HTC One X+
    13519
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    12288
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    11820
  • HTC One X (Tegra 3)
    11633
  • LG Optimus G
    11226

Quadrant

Higher is better

  • HTC One X+
    7632
  • LG Optimus G
    7439
  • HTC One X
    5952
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    5916
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    5450
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    5170
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    4814
  • Nexus 4
    4567

Moving on to GPU performance, the newer architecture has a clear advantage - it offered nearly 75% higher framerate in the off-screen GLBenchmark 2.5 test (1080p resolution). It practically matched the iPhone 5, which uses some of the most powerful GPU cores around.

Oddly, the off-screen GLBenchmark 2.1 test (720p resolution) showed lower framerate for the Nexus 4 than the Galaxy S III.

GLBenchmark 2.1 Egypt (720p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • LG Optimus G
    113
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    105
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    99
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    80
  • Nexus 4
    78
  • HTC One X (Tegra 3)
    64
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    61

GLBenchmark 2.5 Egypt (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • LG Optimus G
    29
  • Apple iPhone 5
    27
  • Nexus 4
    26
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    17
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    15
  • HTC One X+
    12
  • HTC One X
    9

The Google Nexus 4 comes with Chrome out of the box, while the Samsung Galaxy S III uses the stock Android Browser with some TouchWiz tweaks.

In terms of pure JavaScript performance, Chrome on the Nexus 4 is well behind the stock browser on the Galaxy S III. The Nexus performed better in BrowserMark 2 (a JavaScript and HTML5 test), beating the S III by a nice margin, though it again lagged behind the LG Optimus G.

Vellamo, another compound web browser test, puts the S III near the top and the Nexus 4 at the bottom.

SunSpider

Lower is better

  • Samsung Ativ S
    891
  • Apple iPhone 5
    915
  • Nokia Lumia 920
    910
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    972
  • HTC One X+
    1001
  • Motorola RAZR i XT890
    1059
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    1192
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    1312
  • LG Optimus G
    1353
  • Nexus 4
    1971

BrowserMark 2

Higher is better

  • LG Optimus G
    2555
  • Nexus 4
    1794
  • Nokia Lumia 920
    1774
  • Nokia Lumia 820
    1760
  • Samsung Omnia W
    1632
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    1247

Vellamo

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    2418
  • HTC One X (Tegra 3)
    2078
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    1641
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1568
  • LG Optimus G
    1522
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    1468
  • Nexus 4
    1310

After all these benchmarks, we have no solid answer to the question of which phone is faster. On average, the Google Nexus 4 is faster - CPU benchmarks favor it (especially in multithreaded tasks) and the GPU victory was pretty decisive.

Results seem very dependent on the software, however. The Samsung Galaxy S III won its fair share of benchmarks. Whatever modifications Samsung have made to the browser seem to have really boosted performance and GLBenchmark 2.1 reported a higher framerate for the S III than the Nexus.

In the end, both phones are powerful enough to handle any task they're given. But the Nexus 4 has room for improvement, the Optimus G (which differs from the Nexus by software only) beat it in several key benchmarks.

Winner: Google Nexus 4. It may not have won outright, but benchmarks leaned in its favor overall and the S4 Pro chipset has potential that can be unlocked with a software update.

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