The ZTE Nubia Z9 is the first 1080p phone to outperform the iPhone 6 in our toughest graphics benchmark

The ZTE Nubia Z9 is the first 1080p phone to outperform the iPhone 6 in our toughest graphics benchmark
A premium- and online-only sub-brand of ZTE, Nubia has been churning out impressively sounding handsets for two or so years now, and their latest and greatest — the Nubia Z9 — landed in our offices some days ago. While we're still hard at work on the full review, we've already got bits of it ready, including benchmark performance, and we realized something interesting: the Z9 is the first 1080p phone to beat the iPhone 6 in one of our toughest graphics benchmarks.

The test in question is GFXBench's Manhattan benchmark, which takes place on-screen, meaning that the resolution of the phone is taken into account, so you get a realistic indicator of performance in graphics-heavy apps and games. Resolution, precisely, has been a big determinant of success against the iPhone 6, as Apple's device is the only current flagship to offer 750 x 1334 pixels of resolution. Most competing handsets, for better or worse, have moved to Quad HD (1440 x 2560) resolution, though there are still those sticking to the more sane 1080 x 1920 pixels — like the Nubia Z9, the HTC One M9, and the Sony Xperia Z3+. In any case, it is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810-toting Nubia Z9 that finally dethroned the iPhone 6, despite its higher resolution. Here's the proof:

GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
nubia Z9 26
Apple iPhone 6 25.8
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 18.4
Sony Xperia Z3+ 17.6
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact 25.8
HTC One M9 24
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 15
LG G4 9.4
Google Nexus 6 12

Obviously, it's important to keep in mind that the iPhone 6 manages its result whilst running its GPU at considerably lower clock speeds to preserve power. And sure, our battery benchmark rated it at just 5 hours and 22 minutes, but this is more an issue of small cell capacity than anything else, as we've illustrated before. Still, in total terms the GPU does perform worse in the real world according to GFXBench's scoring rules, and so it's nice to see its Manhattan score finally topped.

Related phones

Z9
  • Display 5.2" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, Octa-core, 2000 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB
  • Battery 2900 mAh
iPhone 6
  • Display 4.7" 750 x 1334 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.2 MP front
  • Processor Apple A8, Dual-core, 1400 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 1810 mAh(14h 3G talk time)

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42 Comments

1. Neros

Posts: 1016; Member since: Dec 19, 2014

Because ip6 has a pathetic 750p screen while others roll with fHD and QHD panels. M9 has much better score than the 6+, yet they're both fHF. Z3 compact has the same score as ip6, so iphones aren't unbeatable.

68. 99nights

Posts: 1152; Member since: Mar 10, 2015

Remember the m9 was under clocked to stop the 810 from overheating and throttling.

71. Trex95

Posts: 2381; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

Hope Your 1080P IPS doesn't have light leakage or turn yellow after couple of month of use like mate 7 Lol.

2. hafini_27

Posts: 950; Member since: Oct 31, 2013

I really like Nubia line design, not the softwares though.

3. carlemillward unregistered

First Chinese phone that looks nothing like the iPhone. Oh wait...

4. Wulfgardr

Posts: 73; Member since: Oct 29, 2014

Playing a game is equally satisfying on Apple and Android handsets, regardless of iPhone 6 resolution, graphics are stunning! Well done from ZTE, Android philosophy has topped also this gap :)

8. bur60

Posts: 981; Member since: Jul 07, 2014

The reason why is because game makers make the game for iPhone screens, port it to android and only upscale it. Most of the times they don't make a native 1080p game.

34. hound.master

Posts: 1044; Member since: Feb 27, 2015

I don't think if it's possible to port it I'm not sure through.

51. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

no only its possible but done all the time!

50. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Yep and games only use 2 tread so mostly 2 cores. This is why even low end SD 410 can run any high end game with no lag ( With the few exception thats allow to change graphic quality in the games )

6. SIGPRO

Posts: 2817; Member since: Oct 03, 2012

Duuuhh iphone sucks anyway!

17. Shocky unregistered

Not the first. Galaxy S6 is the first. Games generally don't render at 1440p so 1080p is more relevant to real world performance. http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/graph9146/73778.png So continues Phonearena's obsession with on screen performance and the iPhone.

19. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Because we know of no one that plays games with the screen off...

26. Shocky unregistered

Don't be an idiot, the offscreen resolution they test is 1920*1080. The rendering resolution on Android is NOT fixed, just because the display is 1440p doesn't mean they render at the native resolution which makes this comparison meaningless. In the real world they are scaled down to 1080p or even lower in some cases, of course many games don't need scaling down because it doesn't make any difference to performance, e.g older games.

24. Iodine

Posts: 1482; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

samsung s6 : 23,2 fps with performance throttle of about 50% in just 30 minutes (~11,6 fps) iPhone 6 Plus : 20,8 fps with close to zero performance throttling during any amount of time. Actually samsung is barely faster than iPhone, and can't hold that adventage despite more efficient and cooler running 14 nm Fin Fet process and 6 months newer phone. Do I even need to say that the 6S will absolutely crush everything in GPU performance, when this years "flagships" have trouble fighting off last years Apple stuff ?

29. NFSHesham

Posts: 297; Member since: Feb 04, 2014

This is a good pile of crap being told here.. The s6 DOESN'T Thermal throttle at all not after 30 minutes not never.. And whoever said it is thermal throttling... This is because the device used is PRE PRODUCTION NOT Retail Units... Although iPhone are powerful.. They only perform well of the low resolution.... Raise the resolution and performance degrades... They ain't beating the s6 not by a mile... The S6 is still a much better overall device than iPhones.

30. Shocky unregistered

Yeah, that's just nonsense. The CPU throttles a little, not sure I've ever seen numbers for GPU performance.

53. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Poor Shamesung lover... The S6 dont trottle but do overheat. They just put the trottle limit much higher. Also at its most hot point on the outside of the phone its was proven its more hot than any others handset. As for the rest of what you say i may agree with part of it.

70. epdm2be

Posts: 822; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

"...Raise the resolution and performance degrades..." Which is normal as the GPU has to pump more pixels around. Which is the exact reason why a lot of users (including me) rather want FHD screens than QHD screens. People should also stop comparing Androids with iPhones. I couldn't care less if device X or Y is faster than some iPhone. It's nice to know but nothing to get so agitated about.

52. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Samsung S6 GPU suck big time lol. SD 805 ( last year ) had about same performance than iPhone 6 and dont trottle as well ( thanks to custom core ) SD820 will probably be toe to toe with the A9 on thas end.

25. arch_angel

Posts: 1651; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

Its Not An obsession The iPhone Is The Best Mobile Gaming Device. http://www.phonearena.com/news/In-depth-test-of-the-iPhone-6-Galaxy-S6-HTC-One-M9-and-Nexus-6-settles-which-is-the-fastest_id68480 Proof, Btw Its A Real World Performance Comparison. Offscreen GFX Bench Scores Are Not Relevant.

27. Shocky unregistered

Not sure it proves anything, other than some developers are clueless when it comes to optimizing performance on new devices, which as a result brings down the average.

32. arch_angel

Posts: 1651; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

True LOL, But Real World Performance Doesn't Lie. No Matter The Resolution, Hardware, Or How Competent The Deves Are. The iPhone Performs Best When Playing Games.

43. Shocky unregistered

Well to be more accurate, the IPhone performance is better in some games. This is a small selection of games, some of which have a lot more options to customise performance on Android than the iPhone versions so it's more complicated than the results indicate and not Apples to Apples. :)

44. arch_angel

Posts: 1651; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

Yeah There Are A Lot Of Variables To Consider, Noting Is Apples To Apples When It Comes To Comparing Phones.

55. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

When playing game made by lazy dev yeah. Pretty sure if we would hack both phone hardware and make them work on a pc OS like windows and play game on both the iPhone would be crap compared to any high end android.

54. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

This can easily be explained by the fact thats most game get dev on iPhone first. This mean they are optimized for using only 2 tread ( 2 core ) When you port those game to Android they almost never change those optimisation because they want easy money and as they make more on ios sales they also want to in a way... promote the iPhone as a better gaming device. Lets make an example with computer game when the first quad core came out. They where optimized for dual core computer. So if you had a dual core 3.0 gigz computer you would get better FPS and performance than a quad core 2.66 gigz computer. Today the PC Game dev use all the core so thats quad core will give much more performance. Its the same for mobile phone and if you cant understand this well you are a moron. ( mobile phone game developpement will eventually start to use the real power of android handset when they do i am sorry the iPhone wont be able to compete unless they also use multicore SOC wich i think they will in due time but for now they is no reason to make less money for Apple so they just continue to sell crappy hardware because nothing can really use high end hardware anyway. ) If you ever did some game dev you do understand what i say here.

65. arch_angel

Posts: 1651; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

Bro Im Already Aware Of Everything You Just Said. And The GPU Used In The iPhone Isn't Crap Even IF Someone Did What You Said In Post 55 It Wouldn't Be Crap Compared To High end Android Handsets.

18. Iodine

Posts: 1482; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

Just a little catch.... iPhone 6 can hit up to 33,3 fps in manhattan onscreen and whats more important, it can sustain it in any reasonable temperature, unlike any other competing chip, which throttles dramaticaly after few minutes. Btw. Phone arena, update your benchmark data.

56. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Just another catch no high end game has any lag on high end android device and all run way over 30 fps for hours whitout slowdown. So real world performance win over crap synthetic benchmark.

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

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