Qualcomm unveiled its latest flagship processor, the Snapdragon 855, in December, and we’re expecting devices from companies like Samsung and OnePlus to announce devices using the Snapdragon 855 during the first few months of 2019. However, one device already exists using the Snapdragon 855, the Qualcomm SD855 Reference Device (QRD). It is basically a generic Android 9.0 Pie smartphone which Qualcomm uses for testing and sharing with partners for a quick start in the design process.
During CES 2019, I had the opportunity to benchmark the Reference Device and see firsthand the performance characteristics of the Snapdragon 855.
My testing was in two parts. First I ran the “standard” benchmarks like AnTuTu, Geekbench, and GFXBench. Then I ran Speed Test G on the device. If you aren’t familiar with Speed Test G, watch this video and also dip into the Speed Test G playlist.
The current highest Android single-core score for Geekbench is 3316 for the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus with its Exynos 9810 processor. The top scores for Snapdragon 845 devices are between 2395 for the OnePlus 6 and 2409 for the Xiaomi Black Shark. Clearly, the Exynos is a significantly faster single-core performer. The Snapdragon 855 is changing that.
The Qualcomm Reference device scored 3518. A 46-percent leap over the Snapdragon 845, and six percent faster than the Exynos 9810.
For Geekbench multi-core scores, the current leader is the OnePlus 6 with 8859 and the fastest Exynos is the S9 Plus with 8661. The Snapdragon 855 in the QRD scored 11178, 26 percent faster than the Snapdragon 845 and 29 percent faster than the Exynos 9810.
The highest AnTuTu score on an Android device comes from the Huawei Mate 20, which couples a Kirin 980 with 4GB of RAM and scores 306,608. The Exynos processors don’t do so well in AnTuTu with the S9 Plus ranking 21st overall for 2018 with a score of 249,005.
The QRD, which uses the new Adreno 640 GPU in the Snapdragon 855, scored 360,444 — 17 percent over the Huawei Mate 20 and 44 percent faster than the Exynos 9810 in the S9 Plus.
There are lots of different test workloads under GFXBench. Here are the all the results together:
For context, the OnePlus 6 scored 61.15fps on Manhattan 3.1 offscreen and 149.8fps for T-Rex offscreen. In comparison, the Snapdragon 855 QRD scores 71fps and 168fps respectively — 16 percent and 12 percent faster. These gains are similar to the AnTuTu results.
Speed Test G
Speed Test G is a new speed test methodology incorporating all the best parts of a traditional speed test, and the advantages of standard benchmarks. The current leader for Speed Test G is the Pixel 3 with an overall test run time of 1:45. Other Snapdragon 845 devices like the Pixel 3 XL and the OnePlus 6 and 6T clock in at 1:49, mainly due to their larger screen resolutions which drive the GPU harder.
I ran Speed Test G on the Snapdragon 855 QRD against the Note 9. The Note 9 had also previously scored 1:49, similar to other Snapdragon 845 devices. Astoundingly the Note 9 must have sensed it was up against some tough competition as it dug deep and managed to finish with a time of 1:47.8.
It still wasn’t enough.
The SD855 QRD finished in 1:37.9. That’s nine percent faster than the Note 9, 6.7 percent faster than the Pixel 3, and 10 percent faster than the OnePlus 6T.
It will be very interesting to compare the final Speed Test G times of this year’s devices from companies like Samsung, OnePlus, and LG.
The Snapdragon 855 is delivering on its promises. All performance testing is dependent on the workloads. CPU improvements on the Snapdragon 855 are significant, with between a 26-percent and 45-percent performance boost. For GPU, we saw around a 15-percent boost, and for overall system performance at least a 10-percent increase.
The next step in this journey will be the release of actual consumer products using the Snapdragon 855, some of which will also incorporate the X50 5G modem!