In the first quarter of 2015, the Android competition has adopted four options. Camp Samsung uses its own Exynos 7420 chip paired with the ARM Mali T760 GPU. Camps HTC, Sony, and Xiaomi choose the Snapdragon 810 SoC and its advanced Adreno 430 GPU. And on the eastern front, there are the Meizu and Huawei camps, which rely upon the MediaTek MT6595 (PowerVR G6200MP4) and HiSilicon Kirin 930 (Mali -T628 GPU), respectively. Where does the LG G4 and its Snapdragon 808 position itself in this challenging landscape? And more importantly, does it deliver the expected flagship performance? Let's examine the benchmark results and find out!
Of course, one should be fully aware that synthetic benchmarks measure performance in pre-calculated tasks and scenarios, and are therefore not fully representative of normal everyday usage performance. What they do is form an accurate impression of how different smartphones and their specific hardware components handle themselves under intense load. Trying to assess normal usage performance via tests is not only impossible due to the subjective nature of the "normal usage" term, but it doesn't make much sense either. See, even the low and mid-range Android phones of today have the essential, basic tasks covered. We need to look beyond that to truly see what a smartphone is capable of, and that's where the benchmarks come in.
We use the Vellamo Metal and Basemark OS 2 tests to assess CPU performance. In these tests, the LG G4's Snapdragon 808 CPU generally performs great, moving slightly ahead of the power-hungry Snapdragon 810 CPU in the HTC One M9, and tailgating the Samsung Galaxy S6 & S6 edge's Exynos 7420 SoC. Although the SD 808 has just two Cortex-A57 cores, whereas the SD 810 and Exynos 7420 both have four, the 808 performs better than expected. Its results suggest that manufacturers could have an easier time squeezing peak CPU performance out of the lowlier SD 808 rather than the SD 810, which is more powerful, but often falls victim to throttling and struggles to live up to its potential. Still, the 14nm Exynos 7420 is the top dog right now, while the Kirin 930 (Huawei P8) and MediaTek MT6595 (Meizu MX4) are unimpressive all-around. Their results boil down to the economical CPU cores used in both. The Kirin 930 utilizes exclusively Cortex-A53 cores modified by Huawei, while the MT6595 uses power-efficient Cortex A17 and A7 cores. Still, it has to be noted that both processors are designed as upper mid-range products, rather than flagship solutions. Hence, their performance is fair, but it illustrates a significant gap between "upper mid range performance" and "flagship performance". One would expect this gap to be narrower today, no?
The LG G4 and its Snapdragon 808 SoC generally position themselves slightly below the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and its Snapdragon 805 SoC in the 3D performance tests AnTuTu and GFXBench. That's a disappointing turnout for a 2015 flagship smartphone, but it can be easily explained. Hot-headed it is, but the Snapdragon 810, which spearheads the 3D performance benchmarks, has a killer graphics unit - the Adreno 430. It reaches more than double the 3D performance of the LG G4's lowlier Adreno 418 GPU in the GFXBench rendering tests. The Adreno 430 even outguns the Mali T760 found in the Galaxy S6 & S6 edge's Exynos 7420 CPU, while Huawei and Meizu's upper mid-range solutions finish after the LG G4's Adreno 418, which is already behind the Snapdragon 805's Adreno 420 GPU (as measured in the Samsung Galaxy Note 4). However, it has to be considered that the Adreno 430 in the HTC One M9 is powering a 1080p display, which means it doesn't need to deal with as many pixels as a 2K resolution device, such as the LG G4, would have to. We'd assume that the odds would be evened out to an extent, if the Adreno 430 were to handle a QHD screen.
The AnTuTu test gives a good all-around perspective over system performance under load comparable to that of intense general usage. Unfortunately, the LG G4 is once again unable to stand up to flagship performance expectations. The AnTuTu results position it above the Snapdragon 805 in the Galaxy Note 4, and near general ballpark of HiSilicon and MediaTek's processors, which might be a good achievement on its own, but pales in comparison to flagship silicon performance. The Snapdragon 810 in the HTC One M9 runs significantly faster than the SD 808, Kirin 930, and MT6595 processors, only to be eclipsed by the Samsung Exynos 7420 in the Galaxy S6 edge.
All things considered, the LG G4 can be identified as an upper mid-range smartphone that incorporates flagship display and camera technologies. What does that mean in practical terms? We believe the most noticeable performance impact will be felt in heavy 3D gaming and 4K video recording scenarios, where the LG G4's "not quite there" graphics unit and older memory technology won't be able to deliver consistently smooth, effortless performance. To the strictly specs-minded buyer, the LG G4 probably doesn't seem like a good proposition in comparison to the Galaxy S6 edge at the high-end price point, or to Chinese "affordable flagships" at the low and mid-price point. But if we look at the vast majority of customers, the ones who are mostly after attractive design, a bright colorful display, and a solid camera, we think the LG G4 has what it takes to win their attention.