Apple iPhone 5s vs. LG G2 vs. Nokia Lumia 1020: War of the worlds

War of the worlds

GSMArena team, 8 October 2013.

Benchmarks

Talking about performance across three very different platforms is tricky, but we found several cross-platform benchmarks and decided to see what kind of results we'll end up with.

Let's meet our contestants:

Apple iPhone 5s LG G2 Nokia Lumia 1020
Chipset Apple A7 Snapdragon 800 Snapdragon S4
CPU 2x Cyclone @ 1.3Ghz 4x Krait 400 @ 2.26GHz 2x Krait @ 1.5GHz
RAM 1GB 2GB 2GB
GPU PowerVR G6430 Adreno 330 Adreno 225

Apple's new A7 chip uses the second generation of Apple-designed CPU cores - these ones are called Cyclone and the two of them run at a relatively low speed of 1.3GHz. Apple's cores offer high performance per clock though and are the first in a smartphone to support ARM v8 (though marketing focused only on the 64-bit support).

Both the LG G2 and Nokia Lumia 1020 use Qualcomm-designed CPU cores, but the Lumia is a couple of generations behind. The clockspeed is strongly in favor of the G2 as well.

The Lumia 1020 is behind on GPU tech too, both the iPhone and the LG G2 use the latest generation in their respective family of GPUs - PowerVR 6 series for the iPhone and Adreno 330 for the G2. The Lumia 1020 has a 2xx series Adreno, which was succeeded a couple of times (first by the 320 and now by the 330).

The Apple iPhone 5s is at a disadvantage in only one place - RAM. It has 1GB of RAM, while the other two pack 2GB. Still, it's Android that needs it with its open multitasking, while both iOS and Windows Phone 8 are more restrictive to background processes. Since the Lumia 1020 is the only WP8 handset with 2GB RAM, we suspect it has more to do with processing 38MP photos than the OS and apps.

Unfortunately, the Nokia Lumia 1020 can't compete in the CPU benchmark round as there's no common benchmark app for all the three platforms. Still, it's not like Snapdragon S4 performance is a mystery, we've sent plenty of those on Android smartphones and we expect performance that's roughly half of what Snapdragon 800 offers (in terms of raw benchmark numbers).

Geekbench 3 was used for the CPU test and we'll be looking at both single and multi-threaded performance. Cyclone seems to have a huge advantage (around 66%) in terms of single-threaded performance over Krait 400, which is highly impressive.

This advantage translates very well to multithreaded workloads and the iPhone 5s actually comes out ahead of the LG G2, despite the droid having twice as many cores.

Geekbench 3 (single-threaded)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 5s
    1412
  • LG G2
    845

Geekbench 3 (multi-threaded)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 5s
    2561
  • LG G2
    2243

Let's look at the GPU benchmarks. We're using GFXBench (formerly GLBenchmark), both v2.5 and v2.7. We're using the on-screen tests this time around as raw GPU performance doesn't mean much when game developers will have to make a separate version of the game for each of the three OSes. Also, the LG G2 has almost three times as many pixels to draw on the screen as the iPhone 5s and more than twice as many as the Lumia 1020.

Speaking of developing games, iOS 7 and iPhone 5s support OpenGL ES 3.0, which will enable more advanced effects. The LG G2 will support it too as soon as it gets updated to Android 4.3. Windows Phone 8 and by extension the Nokia Lumia 1020 doesn't use OpenGL, but Microsoft's own DirectX feature level 9.3 instead.

As far as GLBenchmark 2.5 level graphics are concerned, the iPhone 5s and LG G2 will both run games smoothly, hovering around 50fps. Note that benchmarks typically have heavier graphics than actual games. The Lumia 1020 on the other hand barely chugs along at 13fps. This may be due to difficulty of going from OpenGL to DirectX, but if the GFXBench team experienced it, so will game developers.

Moving on to the newer and more advanced graphics of GLBenchmark 2.7, the iPhone 5s stays at a playable level (37fps), the LG G2 drops below the comfort level (22fps) and the Lumia 1020 gives up completely and the scene rendition turns from a video into a stuttering slideshow.

GLBenchmark 2.5 Egypt (on-screen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 5s
    53
  • LG G2
    48
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    13

GLBenchmark 2.7 T-Rex (on-screen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 5s
    37
  • LG G2
    22
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    6.1

Finally, we'll look at web browser performance of three very different browsers. True, both Safari and the Android Browser are based on WebKit, but they both use different JavaScript engines and other components.

Let's look at HTML5 Test first. While web apps aren't the norm yet, support for the bleeding edge of web technologies is becoming gradually more and more important. Here the LG G2 and the Android Browser (not Chrome) take the cake, with iPhone 5s/Safari on iOS 7 turning in a good performance. Internet Explorer on the Lumia 1020 isn't in step with modern browsers, however, 300 or so is the type of score we were seeing last year.

HTML5 Test

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 5s
    408
  • LG G2
    467
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    326

Now for pure JavaScript performance. SunSpider is well understood and JS engines usually optimize specifically for it. Still, the 403ms time of the iPhone 5s is mightily impressive.

Kraken 1.1 is a newer JS benchmark by Mozilla (we stayed away from vendor-specific benches like V8 or Octane). Here the iPhone confirms that it's twice as fast as the LG G2. The Nokia Lumia 1020, which was on par with the G2 in SunSpider, drops behind considerably - over 7 times slower than the iPhone. See what we mean about specifically optimizing for SunSpider?

SunSpider 1.0

Lower is better

  • Apple iPhone 5s
    403
  • LG G2
    908
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    912

Kraken 1.1

Lower is better

  • Apple iPhone 5s
    5934
  • LG G2
    10389
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    44841

We also ran BrowserMark 2, which goes beyond raw JavaScript speed and HTML5 support. Here, the iPhone 5s has a noticeable lead ahead of the LG G2, which in turn is well ahead of the Nokia Lumia 1020.

BrowserMark 2

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 5s
    3549
  • LG G2
    2718
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    1767

In the end, raw benchmark numbers don't mean a lot but this much is clear - the iPhone 5s performance is superior to that of the rest of the mobile world. Having beaten the best of the non-Apple chipset, Apple could easily keep its gadgets at dual-core processors and the same GPU for the foreseeable future (though the iPads will probably have a few more cores in the GPU).

Meanwhile, Android 4.2 on Snapdragon 800 is fast enough in all three categories and will probably get faster once the G2 gets its 4.3 update. The CPU will keep all current apps - both native and web - happy, while the GPU will handle heavy games easily.

It's the Nokia Lumia 1020 that has something to worry about. The slow (ish) CPU isn't a major cause for concern as the Windows Phone 8 UI and apps work buttery smooth. Web sites will have to disable a few features when running in IE and worst of all, games can't have cutting-edge graphics. Or maybe devs are still learning how to squeeze out the best out of DirectX, either way gaming on WP8 will have bumps in the road.

Winner: Apple iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5s topped most benchmarks and with iOS 7 designed around it, it provides the best experience for general use, gaming and web browsing.

Runner up: LG G2. The LG G2 lost a few synthetic benchmarks, but works smoothly all the same. We did expect four 2.26GHz cores to stack up a little better against the two 1.3GHz custom Apple cores though.

3rd place: Nokia Lumia 1020.While the gap between iPhone 5s and LG G2 is almost negligible, the Nokia Lumia 1020 is tangibly behind both in terms of 3d and web performance. Yes, the UI and apps run smoothly, but the old chipset is limiting to developers.

Reader comments

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Iphone 5s

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