Samsung Galaxy S7 review: A refinement act

GSMArena team, 11 March, 2016.

Synthetic benchmarks

The Galaxy S7 comes in two different specs, one with the Snapdragon 820, the other with the Exynos 8890. Qualcomm's chipset has a quad-core CPU, two of the Kryo cores clocked at 2.15GHz, the other two - at 1.6GHz.

We have for review the Exynos flavor, and Samsung's own SoC relies on an octa-core CPU solution, in which you have four Mongoose cores, and four Cortex-A53's. The Mongoose cores behave differently depending on the task - two of them can go as high as 2.6GHz, while the other two are idling, or you can have all four of them ticking at 2.3GHz simultaneously. In theory that approach should provide heaps of power for all sorts of apps, regardless of the number of cores they can utilize, while keeping temperature in check.

Samsung Galaxy S7 review

The different chips obviously come with matching GPUs, the Adreno 530 in the Snapdragon package, and the Mali-T880 MP12 in the Exynos variant. Regardless of chipset, the Galaxy S7 comes with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. A 64GB version is also supposedly going to be available, we haven't seen one yet though.

The Galaxy S7 kicks off with the best single-core result we've seen, on Android that is, and by a long stretch. Remember, one Mongoose core ticks at 2.6GHz in this scenario, and it certainly makes a difference. The S7 edges ahead of the S7 edge (why, of course we're working on a review of that one concurrently), but the difference is well withing the statistical margin of error. And yes, the iPhone 6s still rules in the per-core performance, but it's only got two of them.

GeekBench 3 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6s
    2542
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    2170
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    2151
  • Meizu Pro 5
    1545
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    1502
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    1363

The multi-core results are even more impressive. The Galaxy S7 is hands down the fastest performer when all cores are utilized, Android or otherwise this time. The Meizu Pro 5, the highest scoring smartphone with last year's Exynos 7420 chip, sits closest followed by Samsung's own. The Nexus 6P is the highest ranking Snapdragon 810 offering, still not a match when it came out, not a match now.

GeekBench 3 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    6360
  • Meizu Pro 5
    5578
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    5215
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    5124
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4539
  • OnePlus 2
    4429
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    4427
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    4017
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3527
  • LG G4
    3509
  • Huawei P8
    3380
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    3321
  • HTC One A9
    3209
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    3061
  • OnePlus X
    2297

Compound benchmarks should give a better understanding of overall performance, not just raw processing power. AnTuTu 6 comes first, alphabetically if for no other reason, and it won't be unfair to say that the Galaxy S7 smokes the competition. True, it's the first 2016 flagship we get to test, and results in the 130K ballpark are also to be expected by the myriad of Snapdragon 820 releases this year, it's just that the S7 beat them to it.

AnTuTu 6

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    132084
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    89345
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    81615
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    79038
  • Meizu Pro 5
    67531
  • LG G4
    60858
  • HTC One A9
    60324
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    35689

Basemark OS II 2.0 comes next and we're starting to wonder if smartphones are approaching the ceiling of what the benchmark can measure. The Galaxy S7's score is only slightly higher than that of the Nexus 6P, and the distance to the ruling iPhone 6s is even smaller. Exynos 7420 devices from last year are further down though, so at least Samsung has managed to improve on its own chip.

Basemark OS 2.0

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6s
    2195
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    2128
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    2040
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    1880
  • Meizu Pro 5
    1837
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    1674
  • OnePlus 2
    1622
  • LG Nexus 5X
    1591
  • LG G4
    1584
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    1482
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    1281
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    1233
  • OnePlus X
    1213
  • Huawei P8
    1112
  • HTC One A9
    944
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    833

On to graphics, to see how those 12 cores of the Mali-T880 GPU stack up. In Basemark X we witness a new record high, comfortably ahead of last-year's Samsung flagships, which in turn posted better numbers than competing Snapdragon 810 models.

Basemark X

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    32345
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    27169
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    26281
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    23923
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    22825
  • OnePlus 2
    21937
  • Meizu Pro 5
    20038
  • LG Nexus 5X
    16609
  • LG G4
    15090
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    12096
  • OnePlus X
    10572
  • HTC One A9
    6617
  • Huawei P8
    6307
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    4947

Basemark ES 3.1 provides a testing ground for OpenGL ES 3.1-compatible devices, and while results are not 100% immediately comparable, its iOS counterpart Basemark Metal gives a general idea where the two platforms stand relative to each other.

And where they stand is closer than with last year's Android devices, that's for sure. Exynos 8890 scores more than twice as much as 7420 and the Snapdragon 810 is left behind as well. However, it is still the iPhone 6s that remains the true king in this benchmark, and early indications we have of the Snapdragon 820's performance, the status quo is looking to remain unchanged.

Basemark ES 3.1 / Metal

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6s
    879
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    732
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    504
  • Meizu Pro 5
    409
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    316
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    311
  • LG Nexus 5X
    306
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    248
  • HTC One A9
    132

GFXBench 3.1 Manhattan is another OpenGL ES 3.1 test and the S7 is doing a very good job. In the offscreen part (run at 1080p on all tested devices regardless of actual display resolution) Samsung's flagship outperforms all of last year's flagships by a mile (hardly a surprise!).

That translates into a solid number in the onscreen test - run at native resolution, where the QHD display of the S7 pulls it back. Still, the 15fps are a marked improvement over the Note5's 6.7fps, and also ahead of the 11fps of the QHD Nexuses.

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    28
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    18
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    17
  • OnePlus 2
    16
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    15
  • Meizu Pro 5
    14
  • LG Nexus 5X
    11
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    10
  • HTC One A9
    3.8
  • Huawei P8
    3.4

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia Z5
    19
  • OnePlus 2
    16
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    15
  • Meizu Pro 5
    14
  • LG Nexus 5X
    11
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    11
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    9.7
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    6.7
  • Huawei P8
    4.3
  • HTC One A9
    4

In the older GFXBench 3.0 test, the S7 matches the iPhone 6s in raw power, testified by the similar offscreen frame rates. These two are in a league of their own, no other phone making it past 65% of the S7's score.

Don't make a big deal out of the difference in onscreen frame rates between the iPhone 6s and the Galaxy S7 - the Samsung phone is dealing with 3.7 times as many pixels. On a level field against the Nexus 6P and Note5, the new GPU shows its strength posting a 60% and 80% higher frame rate, respectively.

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6s
    39.5
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    38
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    25
  • Meizu Pro 5
    25
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    24
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    24
  • OnePlus 2
    22
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    21
  • LG Nexus 5X
    16
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    15
  • LG G4
    14.9
  • OnePlus X
    9.9
  • HTC One A9
    6.4
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    5.7
  • Huawei P8
    5.4

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6s
    53.6
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    27
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    25
  • Meizu Pro 5
    25
  • OnePlus 2
    22
  • LG Nexus 5X
    17
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    17
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    15
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    15
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    14
  • OnePlus X
    10
  • LG G4
    9.4
  • HTC One A9
    6.7
  • Huawei P8
    5.7
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    5.7

In summary, another trend-setting performance by the Galaxy flagship. Heaps of raw CPU power in the S7 are coupled with graphics oomph, which no longer needs to make excuses for low frame rates with high display resolution.