Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Snapdragon 820 vs Exynos 8890: the beasts clash


The Galaxy Note 7 is finally out and, as always, it's among the best, most productive Android phablets one can buy. And while Sammy didn't go crazy with the amount of RAM, a-la OnePlus 3, the new Note is still considered one of the most powerful smartphones out there.

Now, if this isn't your first rodeo, you probably know that Samsung tends to release its flagships in two variants – one powered by a Qualcomm-made SoC, usually for the US market, and one powered by Sammy's home-brewed Exynos chipset for everywhere else. In the case of the Note 7, we have the Snapdragon 820 on US-bound units and the powerful Exynos 8890 for the international variant. If that sounds familiar, here's a hint: the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge that launched earlier this year are available in variants with the same two chipsets.

Fun fact: Qualcomm developed the Snapdragon 820 in collaboration with Samsung, and Sammy even produces at least a part of the chips. But this doesn't mean that it is a carbon copy of the Exynos 8890. In fact, here are the differences between the two:

Qualcomm Snapdragon 820Samsung Exynos 8890
CPUQuad-core (Kryo)
Clock speed: up to 2.15 GHz
Octa-core (Samsung M1 + Cortex A53)
Clock speed: up to 2.15 GHz
GPUAdreno 530
Core speed: 624 MHz
Mali-T880 MP12
Core speed: 650 MHz
MemoryDual-channel LPDDR4
Speed: 1866 MHz
Dual-channel LPDDR4
Speed: 1794 MHz

A quad-core vs an octa-core? Yes, it's a bit hard to imagine that Samsung would be able to pull that off without some discrepancies between the Snapdragon and the Exynos editions' performances, so — of course — you are probably wondering whether there are some major differences in performance.

Well, we've got you covered, as we ran our go-to benchmarks on both the European and US variants of the Note 7. All tests were ran three times and the scores below are the average from each run. Here are the results:

A mixed bag of results

There is no doubt that the two chipsets are among the most powerful on the market, and we expected some great scores from both. What we didn't expect to see, however, was the huge difference gap in AnTuTu and Vellamo Metal — the Snapdragon 820 absolutely crushed the Exynos 8890 in both of these CPU-heavy benches. However, moving on to Vellamo Browser and JetStream, we see that the Exynos regains some footing and performs unwaveringly better when it comes to web-browsing.

Next come the graphics-intensive tests, and, again, we have a huge difference in performance on the heavy, heavy GFXBench Manhattan test — the performance of the Snapdragon 820 with its Adreno 530 GPU reached almost twice the score of the Exynos 8890 with the Mali-T880 graphics chip. Moving to the much more forgiving T-Rex, however, we get a steady performance of about 53 FPS on both phones — more than enough.

Before we reach the end of the tests, we move on to the “overall performance” Basemark OS II benchmark. Here, both phones are relatively equal, though the Exynos edition does seem to have an edge. Last, but not least, we run them through Geekbench 3, which measures CPU performance for single-core and multi-core use. Here, the Exynos 8890 wins out as well — while both processors do equally good in the single-core test, the Sammy-made octa-core chip soars higher with about 1,200 points over the Snapdragon 820 in the multi-core test, giving it a not-so-slight edge.

In the end, what does it all mean?

Whether you get the Exynos or Snapdragon 820 variant Galaxy Note 7, you should expect (and get) a beast of a smartphone. If we had to draw conclusions, we'd say that yes, the Snapdragon 820 will probably make graphics junkies a bit happier – at least according to the synthetic benchmarks above. The Exynos could potentially be a bit snappier in other daily jobs, such as browsing the web, opening specific apps, or maybe, possibly multitasking.

Should you be losing sleep over the performance differences in the two variants? We'd say, for real world application — hardly. Of course, there's also the question of which model (if any) has a longer battery life. Well, stay tuned!

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