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Android storage speed comparison: which phone has the fastest IO performance?

Posted: , by Victor H.

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Android storage speed comparison: which phone has the fastest IO performance?

One of the most underreported smartphone specifications is the speed of the internal NAND storage. This, however, remains a key factor for a smooth, stutter-free performance on Android, and this became painfully obvious a couple of years ago when the slow internal storage of the original Nexus 7 tablet and the lack of TRIM support caused huge bottlenecks. The end result was many unhappy users that felt their device was too slow for comfortable use.

Following Android versions starting with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean added software fixes, but hardware is also an important part of the speed of a phone’s internal storage.

In order to have a perfectly smooth experience on Android, the IO performance is key, and today we take a look at the most popular Android flagships and how they compare in terms of NAND performance. We've used the awesome AndroBench tool, a free app on the Google Play store.

We test sequential and random speeds

Testing is divided in two categories: sequential speeds and random reads. Substantial speeds happen when big files are written or read to the storage, things like a movie, which is stored in ‘sequential’ blocks of the memory. The faster the result here, the faster you’d be able to move around larger files in the system.

The second and more important factor for the smooth Android experience are random speeds, which measure the speed of reads and writes in different blocks of the NAND storage. Random writes and reads is exactly what happens when apps update in the background (many small bits of data written and read), as well as when you are multitasking. Greater random speeds usually translate in fewer dropped frames.

The IO performance speeds below are all in MB/s, and the higher the values, the faster a phone’s internal storage is. Take a look at the fastest Android smartphones right below, and don’t forget that our benchmark section is where you can find these and many other measurements.

AndroBench random read speeds (4KB files, in MB/s)

Androbench - Random read
Higher is better
Huawei Ascend Mate7 14.04
Sony Xperia Z3 14.78
Google Nexus 5 11.09
Google Nexus 6 7.93
HTC One (M8) 13.13
LG G3 15.71
Samsung Galaxy S5 13.7
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 20.56
Motorola Moto X (2014) 14.32
Androbench - Random write
Higher is better
Huawei Ascend Mate7 1.3
Sony Xperia Z3 9.26
Google Nexus 5 0.88
Google Nexus 6 1.54
HTC One (M8) 1.29
LG G3 1.46
Samsung Galaxy S5 1.79
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 3.23
Motorola Moto X (2014) 2.51
View all

AndroBench sequantial read speeds (256KB files, in MB/s)

Androbench - Sequential read
Higher is better
Huawei Ascend Mate7 64.01
Sony Xperia Z3 217.17
Google Nexus 5 88.4
Google Nexus 6 31.62
HTC One (M8) 90.65
LG G3 164.08
Samsung Galaxy S5 176.5
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 147.05
Motorola Moto X (2014) 160.1
Androbench - Sequential write
Higher is better
Huawei Ascend Mate7 14.65
Sony Xperia Z3 44.43
Google Nexus 5 17.23
Google Nexus 6 22.4
HTC One (M8) 24.4
LG G3 22.29
Samsung Galaxy S5 24.2
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 34.26
Motorola Moto X (2014) 31.2
View all

  • Options

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 09:26 22

1. boosook (Posts: 1442; Member since: 19 Nov 2012)

Ok, let me understand... the Z3 is three times faster than the Note 4 in random write and the winner both in reading and writing in Androbench, and which parameter do you choose to order the phones? The only one where the winner is a Samsung...

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 09:51 9

13. Neros (Posts: 1016; Member since: 19 Dec 2014)

Z3 clearly cheated...

Go sammy :D! Note 4 forthe win!

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 13:56 12

41. bugsbunny00 (Posts: 2195; Member since: 07 Jun 2013)

sammy is the one caught cheated.

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 16:04 4

47. cheetah2k (Posts: 1722; Member since: 16 Jan 2011)

How did the Z3 cheat? looks to me like a clear winner. Note 4 sucks on random write which is where it matters most especially when taking those 20MP pics :)

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 18:06 1

49. gigaraga (Posts: 1454; Member since: 29 Mar 2013)

If the Note 4 'sucks' on random write test, then Huawei and Nexus 6 must be beyond trash at the test then.

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 19:32 1

50. joey_sfb (Posts: 6517; Member since: 29 Mar 2012)

How do you know Z3 cheated? Really... all sort of accusation get pick out of thin air.

Good to know the internal storage speed of phone as it will affect overall performance of the device.

Hope to see PA make these a regular update for new devices.

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 12:15 10

31. romeo1 (Posts: 729; Member since: 06 Jan 2012)

You see this kind of weird science more than often on pa and other sites.
Everybody who can read will see that z3 is the winner here

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 15:26 8

46. xperian (Posts: 382; Member since: 10 Apr 2014)

But they still put note first so fanboys won't get angry

posted on 05 Feb 2015, 16:38

60. romeo1 (Posts: 729; Member since: 06 Jan 2012)

Yes but now you could get mad sony fanboys but they could probably live better with that as there aren't as many or they just don't get paid or paid less by sony

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 12:42 2

35. TechieXP1969 (limited) (Posts: 13895; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)

Which of the things is your phone going to perform most of? The phone performs more random reads vs writes. Correct?

What would you phone randomly be writing all the time?

Read speeds are what need to be the fastest, not writes.

Everything you do on a phone requires reads. The only time the devices writes is when you download files and an application writes some data like saving app states for example.

But writing should be slower to allow for faster reads.

I mean isn't this have motorized drives work?

When Windows is done with an application, writes are fast because Windows simply drops the data to the next empty space that passes the head to help increase the speed. But over time this slows the reads,because data for an app is everywhere, which is why you must defrag.

With Flash, the data is stored in blocks where the data is pretty much kept in the same place. So since the data is basically going where it came from, writing isn't as important as when it is time to load the data which needs to be fast since Flash doesn't have moving parts.

SO the winner for random reads is correct because your device will perform more random reads than writes.

Hopefully I am understanding it correctly as well.

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 14:06

43. brunelian92 (Posts: 79; Member since: 04 Feb 2015)

It mentions in the article that they are ordered based on random read speed. Considering this is the most likely function you will use it seems perfectly appropriate to do so.

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 09:26 2

2. redmd (Posts: 1337; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)

Benchmarks and actual user experience is entirely different.

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 09:35 17

8. terabyteRouser (Posts: 457; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)

Benchmarks provide excellent indicators into what the limitations of that experience will be.

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 09:43 2

12. rd_nest (Posts: 1655; Member since: 06 Jun 2010)

In case of storage performance, benchmarks actually provide user experience.

But you need to look into relevant benchmarks to make some conclusion. Also after certain point, further increase in performance is not likely to give you significantly visible advantage

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 10:05

16. vuyonc (Posts: 1061; Member since: 24 Feb 2014)

iPhones have high single core performance in benchmarks and it shows in UI fluidity. Tegra processors score high in graphic benchmarks and play Half Life 2 at 1080p between 40-60fps. Benchmarks aren't obviously perfect but some are good enough. Any complaints from Xperia Z3 users?

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 10:31

24. rd_nest (Posts: 1655; Member since: 06 Jun 2010)

Again, you don't grasp the difference. For storage, this is not same. I make a living out of consulting with storage industry. Storage benchmarks is not similar to Antutu where you attach a empirical value to particular test. In storage, your experience is directly related to numbers. It doesn't mean every benchmark will tell you something. Looking into relevant statistics is an art that not many people understand. A simple question like whether I should look into IOPS, Bandwidth or queue depth should be enough to grasp which number is more important than another. It's again waste if you run SQLIO on a mobile device, waste of time..

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 09:26 8

3. Anshulonweb (Posts: 431; Member since: 07 Feb 2014)

well nexus 6 results were a disappointment...... not sure but may be due to default encryption on lollipop ...

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 09:41 6

11. rd_nest (Posts: 1655; Member since: 06 Jun 2010)

Check Anandtech article on encryption and store performance on 5.0

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 14:05 1

42. vincelongman (Posts: 5013; Member since: 10 Feb 2013)

Yep its the encryption
Basically Moto some how forgot about encryption and didn't add anything to hardware accelerate the encryption

E.g. the Nexus 9 uses its ARMv8 based K1 for hardware acceleration
Hence why AnandTech said the IO speeds were the same for the Nexus 9 with and without encryption

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 10:02 1

14. boosook (Posts: 1442; Member since: 19 Nov 2012)

Yes, it's definitely due to encryption IMO.

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 09:28 4

4. TyrionLannister (unregistered)

Z3 and Note 4 are owning it.

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 09:29 12

5. RebelwithoutaClue (Posts: 3463; Member since: 05 Apr 2013)

Keep in mind the Nexus 6 has encryption default on, all files will be encrypted on the local storage. And it already has been proved this makes the Nexus 6 a lot slower than a device without encryption. So the internal storage might still be a lot faster if encryption is turned off.
If you want to make a real comparison, turn on encryption on all the other devices too.

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 09:35 7

7. Victor.H (Posts: 744; Member since: 27 May 2011)

Good point.

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 10:19 2

20. FlyingDutch (banned) (Posts: 97; Member since: 30 Jan 2015)

Benchmarks should be performed with default settings since defaults are defaults for good reasons.

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 13:29 1

40. RebelwithoutaClue (Posts: 3463; Member since: 05 Apr 2013)

They should be benchmark-ed with defaults,but an annotation would be in place that with the default setting, the Nexus 6 does offer encryption while the others don't.

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 10:04 2

15. boosook (Posts: 1442; Member since: 19 Nov 2012)

Well, I think it makes sense to use the default configuration, as it will reflect the user experience (you cannot turn encryption off on the N6).
However, it's fair to remark that on the N6 you have the advantage of a greater security.

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 10:24

23. Downtime24g (Posts: 24; Member since: 04 Aug 2011)

rooted my own nexus 6 and the r/w speed is noticably faster, worth performing the test again atleast

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 09:31 1

6. polybius (Posts: 32; Member since: 03 Feb 2015)

OEMs why you no put flash storage in flagship phones?

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 10:12

18. wargreymon (Posts: 759; Member since: 05 Nov 2013)

You might wanna read up on what eMMC is.

posted on 04 Feb 2015, 10:20

21. polybius (Posts: 32; Member since: 03 Feb 2015)

Multimedia cards are not bad, but they are still nowhere as fast as regular SSDs. If people are willing to spend money on a phone with the best possible specs, why not? I should have been more specific tho.

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