In-depth test of the iPhone 6, Galaxy S6, HTC One M9, and Nexus 6 settles which is the fastest

In-depth test of the iPhone 6, Galaxy S6, HTC One M9, and Nexus 6 settles which is the fastest
When it comes to performance testing, there are several, let's call them 'schools', of thought. One is that synthetic benchmarks can be ambiguous and are not necessarily representative of real-world performance. Others disregard them as way too arbitrary and meaningless. A string of numbers, nothing more. A third group yet, claims that they can be quite useful when judging performance.

Technically speaking, there's a little bit of truth to all these types of statements. Sure, a benchmark can be misleading and ambiguous, and the scores can be quite arbitrary, but only if you don't apply discretion when viewing such results and take them at face value. For the longest time, this has been the case in smartphone benchmarking, and while experts and power users know what they mean and understand their limitations, the general populace has a hard time deciphering them. That's precisely why we've been constantly looking for benchmarking solutions that are both unambiguous and rooted in the real world. GameBench – an app that measures the frame rate at which a device operates when faced with very heavy gaming loads – does just that.

The folks behind GameBench gave us the opportunity to take an early look at the outcome of a new Mexican standoff type versus between the industry's finest – the Apple iPhone 6, the Samsung Galaxy S6, the HTC One M9, and the Google Nexus 6 – on which they've been working on, and the results are likely to mean more to your typical Joe than a score of 56,214 points in this or that benchmark. Conducted using the same kind of methodology employed by specialized computer hardware reviewers, the benchmark scores the devices' frame rate count when running the same games, on the same levels. If you're unsure what frame rate is, and why it matters, this demo right here makes it perfectly clear why you'd want your device to have more of it

Overall, the Apple iPhone 6 proves the smoothest, and achieves an average median FPS of 42, followed by the Galaxy S6 (36 FPS), the One M9 (34 FPS), and the Nexus 6 (34 FPS). This means that, in the case of the iPhone 6, 42 FPS was the commonest rate at which games ran. Another important metric, FPS stability, tells us how often (as a % of the entire test) the device ran at a frame rate that equaled the median, or was close to it. Think of it like this: Low frame rate stability means that the game constantly cycles between low and relatively high frame rates, thus giving you the impression of choppiness. 

Before you take a look at the scores, keep in mind that since these tests were carried with the screen on, it means that devices' resolution also played a part. That is, a higher resolution display will naturally need more powerful hardware to drive all those pixels at high enough frame rates. However, it's important to point out that most Android and iOS games actually do not run at the devices' native resolution, so don't assume that the Galaxy S6 is times more powerful than the iPhone 6 only because it has several times higher resolution than it and is a close second. The reality is that the resolution in which it renders those games is still greater, but not that much greater. Finally, the guys at GameBench are telling us that some of the games are artificially capped at 30 FPS on some devices (like the Galaxy S6), even though they should, theoretically, be able to do better. In other words, it's not all on the phone manufacturers – game developers also have their part to play, as they must ensure that their games run smoothly on a smorgasbord of devices, especially if their platform of choice is Android.

Take a look at the results:


source: GameBench

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86 Comments

1. drunkenjay

Posts: 1695; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

not suprised. iphone is the fastest.

7. TyrionLannister unregistered

Isn't that obvious. iOS devices perform the best at games. PowerVR graphics don't throttle at all + the resolutions are less to maintain good framerate + games are better optimized. For gaming, iOS has always been the better pick and will be for the foreseeable future. And this came from a guy who doesn't own an iPhone.

16. Cazrack

Posts: 11; Member since: Apr 22, 2015

According to Gamebech For example, the Galaxy S6 plays some games at a higher resolution than the iPhone 6 (1080p versus roughly 720p), which can lower its scores. That is a very big difference and soon they will release the results for the iPhone 6 plus which onscreen resolution is 1080p, if iPhone 6 plus render the games in the same resolution as s6 and m9 then we will have some comparable results. With rooted Android phones you can lower the resolution as well on get a lot better frame rates. It's not only about the fps, it's about the whole package Fps and visual quality.

20. TyrionLannister unregistered

That's not the reason. Some games are capped at 30 fps on the Galaxy S6, maybe to preserve battery life. That's degrading the performance. The GPU is easily capable to outperform the iPhone 6.

26. Cazrack

Posts: 11; Member since: Apr 22, 2015

Advanced 3g games does not run in 1440p but they run probably at 1080p twice the resolution of iPhone 6 720p, this cost a lot of fps but provides better image quality. Capping games at 30 fps limits the gpu % utilization and does not provide you with a accurate picture on how fast the gpu is since it isn't allowed to be used at maximum performance.

27. Cazrack

Posts: 11; Member since: Apr 22, 2015

Gamebech need to provide information about what render resolution each game uses and if it's capped at 30 fps. These tests don't provide the full story and simply leads to speculation. At least they could included iPhone 6 plus.

28. Cicero

Posts: 1136; Member since: Jan 22, 2014

I wonder what it happens whith the pixels mot involved. For S6 from 1440p to 1080p they still be used the gpu? At the end we have an S6 screen with 1440p screen used like 1080p 30fps on games and comparing with 1080p on Android phones and 720p on iPhone. This benchmark is saying that will "enlight" us not like AnTuTu numbers.

36. Trex95

Posts: 2383; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

What higher resulation you talking about it?!. I played games (Asphalt 8) on all these devices and let me tell which the best when it comes to gaming performance especially Asphalt 8 1- IPhone 6/ 6 plus (IPad Air 2 the best of all FYI and non of these devices beats IPad Air 2 when it comes to gaming performance) 2- From Android side best gaming performance goes to M9, Nexus 6 ( after lollipop 5.1 update), Note 4 both variant Octa and SD 805, Xperia z2, G3 of course S6 is great when it comes to gaming performance but 3fps drop to 18 fps then goes again to 30 fps in Asphlat that's not excpetaible please don't mentioned that higher resulation cause note 4 comes with the same higher resulation and still can run Asphalt 8 at 60fps like IPhone with ease.

46. sgodsell

Posts: 7428; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

The S6 is pushing around 2 million more pixels then the iPhone 6. Enough said.

81. ShaikhJGI

Posts: 361; Member since: Jan 10, 2014

Its Pushing 2.7 million bro

74. buccob

Posts: 2973; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

I agree with you but they should have thrown the Z3 Compact into the equation... I think it is on par with the iPhone performance, given the internals. The only issue I come accross while gaming with mine is the crappy internet speed I get in my country.

75. TyrionLannister unregistered

Galaxy alpha would be better in that way. The exynos variant.

80. buccob

Posts: 2973; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

Yes, that one too...

9. nh1402

Posts: 138; Member since: Oct 30, 2013

The iPhone 6 has a 720p screen, the others are at least 1080p, that same GPU in say a Galaxy S6 with its 1440p screen wouldn't perform nearly as well. Seeing how close the graphs are in most of the games, it just goes to show how much more powerful the GPU in the other phones are if it can perform nearly as well compared against a GPU capable of running a 1080p screen, that's actually running a 720p screen.

24. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

Well that is because this is another fluff piece. I mean why compare the iPhone 6 to the Nexus 6 and phones that are closer to the 6 Plus in size screen wise. Because the iPhone 6 barely squeaks out win here while running less than a 3rd of the resolution of the competition. The 6 Plus would probably have lost that battle altogether.

31. ahomad

Posts: 175; Member since: May 15, 2012

exactly my point, the iphone 6 plus is more comparable to these in term of screen resolution which is a very important factor in these tests (the two most important factors are GPU and screen resolution) the screen size has no effect at all here. so the current iphone 6 lost in some tests, won by slight margin on others, imagine the iphone 6 plus in this test, even the iphone 6 plus has less resolution compared to the galaxy S6 but I don't think the results will be the same. I am not saying the iphone is bad, but this test wasn't done right

47. GameBenchJake

Posts: 9; Member since: Feb 13, 2015

All modern smartphones use a hardware upscaler on the SoC (System on Chip), which means that since most games will render at 720p or 1080p, and use the hardware upscaler, there is negligible performance degredation (outside of battery usage) to running a FHD display vs a QHD display. iPhone games will all render natively at 720p/1080p (and then be upscaled for iPad/iPhone 6+). Since both devices are rendering either 720p or 1080p, the fact that one device has a higher resolution doesn't matter because of the hardware upscaler on the SoC Jake GameBench

51. Macready

Posts: 1824; Member since: Dec 08, 2014

The G3 runs games at much higher fps when set to a lower resolution than native, same goes for the Note 4. When set to 720p, te S6 should see a good improvement (better than iPhone 6) too.

12. slh163

Posts: 140; Member since: May 19, 2014

i wonder why they didn't choose iphone 6+ at least he have 1080p instead of that joke resolution in iphone 6. isn't naturally for gamers that big screen and higher resolution is better for gaming? ..ahh wait its because the 6+ does not perform as good as the 6 because its 1080p screen so certainly the 6+ would lags behind the competition and those folks dont want that to happen. ok i get it

37. Trex95

Posts: 2383; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

IPhone 6 comes with 760P resuilation plus it's an IPS LCD not pentiles that comes with 2sup pixel.

57. tedkord

Posts: 17408; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

What does pentile have to do with this story? It might affect sharpness, but as we know from all the reviews, the S6 screen is shaper (by far) than the iPhone screen.

82. ShaikhJGI

Posts: 361; Member since: Jan 10, 2014

SubPixels doesn"t counts for GPU while pushing pixels. It will push 3.7 Million pixels anyway. Very lame excuse dude.

38. Evil_SaNz

Posts: 259; Member since: Oct 20, 2011

For Anandtech the iPhone is barely third in any offscreen test regarding the gpu, even behind the Snapdragon 810...gpu wise. For the cpu the S6 is even faster than the iPad Air 2 (Octane/Kraken)

84. iKroneous

Posts: 5; Member since: Apr 24, 2015

They are only pushing a quarter of the pixels on a less than 720p screen. So what do you fools think the resultant comparison will be? Plus... Devs have had almost a year to optomize iOS 8 on this comparison. It's like handicapping a featherweight boxer pitted against a heavyweight, by tying one arm and both legs behind the heavyweight's back! ....It's just so Bogus to consider iPhone 6 the winner here!!! It's Applewellian Doublethink Logic at it's most deluded, to even consider that a fair fight. Let's see a comparison where they pull the gloves off and make it a fair fight? Let's compare actual productivity features of iPhone 6 vs Galaxy S6 w/ full Pervasive Multitasking after Devs get Apps optomized for Samsung 1st HMP SoC processor? Yeah... Apple don't want anybody to mention the huge gap between Exynos 7420 HMP Core processor and A8 where iOS GUI suffers most from the lack of Touchwiz PC Desktop Productivity Features. Since they are still tied to basically the same HFS file system from early 1980's on Macs. Written based on single threaded chips, w/o even a basic kernel in original Mac OS. The work of task management then was in the Apps on a file system running on Floppies no less!!! The only thing Apple has added is NeXT engineer's "Preemptive Task Management". Oooohhh... big word, but means diddly squat. Because the file system is more like old FAT than modern Unix/Linux file systems today. Since it can only suspend one task/app in order to run a more important one. Where they are all just stacked one on top of the other. App to App comparison then is not a fair fight either. Don't forget Apple had a far better OS kernel in Copland OS, than Steve ever gave them w/ decade old NeXT. However Steve Jobs did hire Dominic Giampaolo of his arch nemisis BeOS, BFS engineer to write a virtual sub file system called HFSX. But... because it's a virtual sub file system w/ OS X/iOS still running on HFS+ base, they are back to Apps running their own task management. Without it being REAL... TIME... IBM system wide "Pervasive MultiTasking" of competing Desktop OS's today. Not even Android's Window Manager is capable of running many Apps/tasks concurrently on the same screen, w/ many other PC desktop features (OS X can't do either btw, only on HFSX, meaning Spotlight is useless for searching the OS itself. iOS still doesn't have a basic file manager because of this.). Like drag n drop app to app w/in Touchwiz & it's Pervasive MultiTasking Productivity features. Only available on PC Desktop Window Managers like "KDE", "Gnome" & "Enlightenment". Enlightment SDK being what Touchwiz & Tizen's GUI are based on!!! ;-P Without a full system wide desktop window manager on either OS X or iOS, the Future looks DARK indeed for Apple. In a feature rich comparison, they can't even compete in. Because they are still living back in 1984, holding all Applewellian Proles CAPTIVE, inside their iSheeple Garden Walled Delusional Paradise!!! ^_*

2. mixedfish

Posts: 1560; Member since: Nov 17, 2013

So much processing power, so few good games.

3. mawhob2222

Posts: 219; Member since: Mar 22, 2014

Always Samsung devices "the best" in Samsungarena?

23. AndreaWijayanti

Posts: 69; Member since: Mar 03, 2015

Why you said like that? Because sony always not on the list? clearly Samsung and Apple is the best here

25. fuhrer

Posts: 39; Member since: Apr 29, 2013

Sony is best for rice cooker

32. GameBenchJake

Posts: 9; Member since: Feb 13, 2015

Actually - I'd go with Zojirushi if you want the best rice cooker - Sony doesn't quite make it there ;)

54. medtxa

Posts: 1655; Member since: Jun 02, 2014

haha, are you truly from gamebench? that is if you claim that you are.

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