Galaxy S7 battery life with Exynos CPU vastly superior to Snapdragon flavor, here's the proof

With the exception of last year's Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, Samsung has, for years, partnered with San Diego-based Qualcomm, which supplied some of the processors for its flagship line. If you lived outside of the States, however, chances were that local carriers had the phone with Samsung's own Exynos chipset on the inside. This split is also true this year with the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge: buyers in the States get Snapdragon, while elsewhere, Exynos rules.

For the most part, this split has been rather inconsequential from a consumer point of view, as the chips were always highly similar in terms of overall performance. In fact, back in March, we found that the Exynos-based S7 is essentially identical to the Snapdragon one in terms of processing power, managing highly comparable scores in various synthetic benchmarks. What we had reasons to suspect, but had insufficient data to back up, however, is that the Exynos variant is superior in terms of efficiency. Vastly superior, in fact.

New data comes to light

Made exclusively available to PhoneArena by the creators of GameBench—a tool aimed at developers that are looking to identify and fix performance issues with their apps—a new, revealing data set is reminding us that we have some unfinished work here. In short, the folks behind the benchmark suite have spent quite some time testing the two Galaxy S7 models, along with the Snapdragon 820-based HTC 10 and LG G5. The tests included audio playback through both Spotify and Tidal, and video watching via both YouTube and Netflix. In concert with our own, custom battery tests, we now have an adequate number of data points to revisit the topic.

Here's GameBench's methodology for the video streaming tests:

  • Streaming through LTE with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned off;
  • Only 12 user-installed apps, some of which logged in and sending in notifications;
  • Streaming 30 minute clips at automatic quality settings for both YouTube and Netflix;
  • The Snapdragon 820-based Galaxy S7 had Verizon bloatware that may or may not have affected power efficiency

GameBench's methodology for the audio streaming tests was the same as before, plus:

  • Playing a song for 30 minutes;
  • Always On Display turned off;
  • Spotify set to Extreme quality;
  • Tidal set to Hi-Fi quality

Finally, our own custom battery benchmark scores for the Exynos/Snapdragon Galaxy S7, plus the HTC 10 and LG G5:

Using the data above and with the help of a calculator, we can conclude the following:

  • The global (Exynos-based) Galaxy S7 is, on average, over 71% more efficient than its US (Snapdragon-based) twin;
  • Our own test shows a delta of over 62% between the Exynos and Snapdragon variants of the S7;
  • The Exynos 8890 in the S7 is also more efficient than the Snapdragon 820 in the HTC 10 and LG G5;
  • When it comes to audio playback, the Snapdragon 820 is only slightly behind;
  • The Snapdragon 820-based Galaxy S7 is the least efficient of the bunch;

Following the publishing of this new data, Qualcomm reached out to us. Here's an official statement, followed by our own comment:

In addition, since testing the Verizon Snapdragon 820-based S7 in the UK meant that cellular fallback was potentially impacted, and therefore so was power draw, we've worked alongside GameBench to modify the testing methodology from above, and adapt it to streaming over Wi-Fi. As you can see for yourself, the results here corroborate our initial findings, so we can rule out this being the issue.

Some changes in the methodology:

  • Fewer apps were installed on each device (no games);
  • Adaptive Display was switched off this time around;
  • Tested over Wi-Fi only, with SIM card removed;
  • During the testing period, Spotify streamed ~110MB, Tidal ~240MB, YouTube ~345MB, and Netflix between 230-250MB

Power consumption (mW) of streaming apps on each device

UK GS7 (Exynos)














Closing words

While we all get to watch video on YouTube, and many of us stream music through Spotify, these are just two out of many activities a phone goes through. In combination with our test, however, which is built to mimic typical real world use, we can draw some conclusions.

First and foremost, it seems that US Galaxy S7 users drew the short stick, as despite the Snapdragon 820 offering essentially identical processing power, it does seem to seriously lag behind in terms of efficiency. Sure, it being a Verizon model with extra bloatware, we can attribute some of the drain to these two uninstallable apps (My Verizon Mobile and VZ Protect), but we have no reason to believe that they're entirely responsible for the massive delta between the performance of the two flavors.

The rest of the data clearly shows that the Exynos 8890 within the Galaxy S7 is also more power-efficient than the Snapdragon 820 in the HTC 10 and LG G5, especially in terms of video streaming. Our very own tests show a 62% delta between the Exynos and Snapdragon variants of the S7, which is disconcerting. 

We've reached out to Samsung for a comment and will update this article should we get one.

Related phones

Galaxy S7
  • Display 5.1" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad-core, 2200 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(28h 3G talk time)



1. zunaidahmed

Posts: 1183; Member since: Dec 24, 2011

It's all down to optimization, Samsung optimizes it's own house SoC for sure but doesn't bother for snapdragon, simple. It would be pretty normal for any company to do that, I don't blame Samsung. Who would want to put extra optimization to prove competitor products are just as good?

4. tango_charlie

Posts: 347; Member since: Nov 16, 2011

You seem to forget one major point: Consumer satisfaction. I don't think they didn't optimize the Snapdaragon Soc, since they couldn't afford a lousy product. More likely is that the exynos soc is more efficient than the one of qualcomm.

59. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

They did not optimize the SD version or did not put good effort on it as both HTC and LG get better overall result than Samsung on SD soc.


Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

Exactly this. Anandtech did an in-depth article on just this. They stated that Samsung spent less time optimizing the SD version, as other 820 carrying devices outdid the S7 (820). This just means that I'll have to go with a vendor that'll better optimize for Qualcomm's SoCs

107. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Proof?! The optimization for both would be different since both handle the same instructions differently. The SnapDragon is a power hungry SoC, this has been proven. Your claim is BS. I would say, that a company that uses both, won't be able to give equal optimization time to both vs a company that would use one or the other. But Anandtech doesn't work at Samsung, so that can't make such a claim with no facts to back it up. Its just hearsay. But the fact is, the Exynos is more effecient because of the big-LITTLE concept. The SD has 4 cores that run at a varied speed for all 4 of its cores. While the Exynos has 4 cores at a high speed and 4 at a laower speed. Both sides will fluctuate speed based on demad. But in a low case scenario, lets say the task doesn't need the 4 best cores. The lower clock cores woudl handle the task and be more efficient, whil the SD can only use its present 4 cores, clocked slower. Clocker slower doesnt mean ist more efficient. It will still have a higher drain of the battery for example, vs the small core of the Exynos. In the case where the bigger cores kick in on the Exynos, the Mali is simply not as powerful the Adreno used in the SD. Because its less powerful, it will also be more efficient. Just like a 4 cylinder engine is less powerful than a V8. It also burns less gas making it more efficient because you aren't wasting more gas to provide more power. Your claim is easy nothign more than BS. You are assuming that because the Exynos is Samsung's own chip they will optimize the phone to use the chip better than they would for the SD. I would say its the other way around. Because Samsung has used the SD on more of its phones vs the SD. The Exynos is simply less powerful than the SD and thus because its not power hungry, it more efficient by default. Facts have shown that the SD uses more power vs the Exynos even when the Exynos is using its most powerful cores. You can see this in the benchmarks where the SD clearly wins. The Sd has the power advantage. You cant compare the SD820 running in a Samsung to the same chip running in another brand of phone. Because both phones aren't handling the same 100% identical code. Other phones dont multi-task the same, they may not have a skin, they may not have the same amount of RAM and other things that play in using the chips own features. You claim is bogus and lots of factors come into play. And even if you could prove otherwise, it doesn't change what I said. Both SoC will handle the code differently even if they were based on the same ARM design. THAT SI FACT! Qualcomm makes their chip to be as powerful as it can be with the least possible power drain.

117. SuperMaoriBro

Posts: 533; Member since: Jun 23, 2012


90. cheetah2k

Posts: 2213; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

Clearly Samsung didn't optimize the SD820 as if you compare the other SD820 phones its well outside of the "average" SD820 usage.. I wonder if this was intentional?

13. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

You might as well be calling out every OEM with a flagship phone being powered by the SD820 because they all have phones with less than stellar battery life, when compared to the Exynos S7. By your logic that would make them all terrible at optimizing huh? Optimization is very important but it doesn't all come down to that. See post#10 for why SD820 is so thirsty.

20. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

I forgot to mention that I do see where you are coming from tho, when you look at the LG G5 and HTC 10, who's SD820 seems to draw far less power than the S7 it makes sammy look suspicious but in the end those phones don't have great battery life either lol. The Audio streaming scores are ridicules smh.

30. zunaidahmed

Posts: 1183; Member since: Dec 24, 2011

Yes, I mean, I know snapdragon 820 itself draws more power than the exynos chipset, but the gap didn't have to be that big. Samsung could have done better than what it is, that's all I am saying. Not debating 820 is just as efficient as 8890 because that's already too obvious.

109. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

You're assuming they could. Why dont you see if YOU can do better. Rip open the code and optimize it and see what you come up it. Its easy for you to claim someone could have done something, that you yourself can't do.

35. siddharthayadav202

Posts: 286; Member since: Apr 23, 2016

Final scores are almost same though. And as they said, verizon bloat might be affecting the results. If they are affecting, its almost on par with HTC 10.

45. Eclectech

Posts: 346; Member since: May 01, 2013

The battery life on the HTC 10 is better than the regular Galaxy S7 with the same sized battery so there's that. The bigger Galaxy S7 Edge (Snapdragon version) with the bigger battery is barely better that the HTC 10.

68. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

See post#64, why does everyone keep acting as if I said optimization doesn't matter lol.

51. crzykiller

Posts: 86; Member since: Jan 03, 2015

It had to do absolutely with optimizations... most reviewers you see give the One plus 3 OK battery life with around 3:30-4:30hrs of screen on time yet here I am with a custom kernel, my own governor settings and also an overclock with an average of 6-7hours of screen on time. Not to mention the GPU on this thing slaughters the exynos' GPU and also it's much smoother... the exynos variant microstutters massively compared to the snapdragon. My S6 running on a custom ROM and overclocked stutters like crazy due to that fact. Not to mention the exynos has much worse thermals that the S820 and looses its performance over time compared to S820 which in turn give a false sense of better battery life because the CPU and GPU are running at a lower clock speed

54. karan1402d

Posts: 89; Member since: May 28, 2015

Can you share your setup on One plus 3 with all the changes from custom kernel to governor setting and others. My OP3 is to arrive tomorrow would be dope if I could get 7 SOT.

56. sarcastic_nerd unregistered

Please tell me where the SD 820 GPU slaughters t880: A custom kernel will always give better battery life due to undervolting and better CPU governor for battery life. And regular usage rarely even includes the GPU. Most battery life tests just strain the CPU, where the exynos beats the SD by about 20-25% in performance. Not to mention the exynos beating every SD 820 phome on cold app boot times in discomark test anandtech did. BTW, I also own a oneplus 3. But I absolutely disagree that SD820 is better than 8890. My old s6 is just as smooth as my oneplus 3.

62. zunaidahmed

Posts: 1183; Member since: Dec 24, 2011

Your s6 and s7 should be just as smooth, even a 810 should be just as smooth, Android has been smooth since the 805 days. It's like saying Intel i7-5960x is smoother than Intel i7-4960X running Windows, of course not, they both run Windows without breaking a sweat, just because something is newer and has 2 more cores doesn't make programs run better, the processors are already sufficient for Windows, same can be said for Android. IMO processing power for Android phones are more than enough for now, they should focus on GPU a lot more because VR days r coming

63. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Exynos in S7 and S7 edge loose 25% of performance in the first 15 min of gaming and nearly 50% performance after 30-45 min. SD820 loose less than 15% and never trottle more. As for GPU SD820 GPU is more advanced than the T880 and give more smooth graphic and in fact better filtering sure in benchmark t880 can beat it but end result is microstuter and less clean graphic. If you dont see those stutter well you clearly not a gamer.

73. sarcastic_nerd unregistered

Yeah, mobile gamers are the real gamers lol. How about snapdragon GPUs stuttering hardcore in game like marvel future fight, I have been building gaming PCs for over 10 years kid. I know for a fact that mali GPUs do better in real world games, and adrenos usually struggle. So keep fapping to benchmarks. I can give you a game in which SD 820 struggles and you can't give me any game. So I win. Even GPUs on PC side are bemchmarked using real games and games you play, not firestrike. Otherwise everyone would buy SLI setups for their home setup and Nvidia Titan series would go extinct.

83. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Sarcastic_nerd i also have a gaming laptop ( Asus G750 ) and a gaming desktop with two titan in it you moronic fool. i been building gaming PC since i am 12 and i am 34 year old so dont kid me kid :P Give me the name of the game so i can test it because No game had any stutter or lag on SD820 where RR3 stutter like a bitch on Exynos S7. come on give me the game name i want to test it on my LG G5 ( wich is much better optimized than S7 SD820 )

85. sarcastic_nerd unregistered

Marvel future fight. Runs like s**t on g5 or my oneplus 3 while runs smoothly on my s6. BTW RR3 runs pretty buttery smooth on my s6. Not sure about s7. Anyone who buys a system with 2 titans is stupid.

101. Shocky unregistered

You're talking nonsense. I can't think any any games were SN820 struggles, I can name a few that are glitchy but this happens every-time new hardware is released, most developers are lazy. If you can't tell the difference then you should just shut up moving forward.

100. Shocky unregistered

As always,provide a link to substantiate that claim, it would nice to know the context. If you can't, well got lost. Also it's lose, not loose.

110. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

In what type of games? How many people play those games? You think i looses that much play Bejeweled? Your claim is still BS. Because you are using a benchmark where the phones are being taxed by some type of highend game. The vast majority of peopl dont play those games so yoru claim proves nothing. A REAL WORLD PERFORMANCE TEST is taking the tasks that people perform identically. You want to take a benchmark for a game that maybe 10,000 peopel own vs one that is downloaded by the millions. If you take simple tasks like FB, Twitter, web browsing, puzzle games like Bejeweled, playing musi cor similar; no CPU would lsoe such power, because that power isnt being used in the first place. The Adreno gives a better GPU performe because that si where ist power is placed. All that power has a negative side effect...POORER BATTERY-LIFE. . Even when I compare playing the same I play where me and the wife have contests playing, when I buy the Exynos version for the phone and she has the SD version, I always have much better battery-life. PERIOD. Yes facts have shown as you stated the SD does have better graphic performance. Because they chip takes advantage of specific graphical capabilities not supported by the Mali. But those features also nee more power and makes the chip less efficient. The games i play, play at the same speed and look exactly the same no matter which SoC is being used, yet the SD still eats more batty power.

61. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

crzykiller agreed thats exactly the reality.

64. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Of course battery life has to do with optimization but my point was that the SD820 is less efficient than the E8890 and that would be true even if the optimizations were the same, no point in arguing against that fact. The debate wasn't about which chip is better overall just about their efficiency. I'm a gaming guy so GPU matters a lot to me and that is how I know that the SD820's monstrous GPU is the reason it's efficient isn't on the same level as the E8890 and you know what, that is fine with me, as long as the battery life last all day i'll take the phone with the more powerful GPU every time.

69. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Arch_Fiend i think exactly the same way. Exynos is king for CPU and battery life. SD820 is king for GPU and graphic quality and battery life is fine but lower than exynos. Also SD820 version have better network support worldwide.

72. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

That's exactly right, IDK why people just don't see that like we do. They keep replying to my post #20 and 13 as if I said optimization doesn't matter or something lol.

96. Amroze

Posts: 597; Member since: Jul 04, 2016

My S7 Gpu is raised to 570mhz, from 520mhz. And know it performs slightly better than S820.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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