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Samsung Galaxy S22 benchmarked: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 vs Exynos 2200

Who wins this year's Exynos vs Snapdragon showdown?
By
March 6, 2022
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra GeekBench 5 benchmark
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

As usual, Samsung’s latest Galaxy S22 series comes in two chipset varieties. US and select other markets receive the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 powered model, while the rest of the world’s S22s are powered by Samsung’s own Exynos 2200 processor this year. Snapdragon vs Exynos is a long rivalry but this year is shaping up to be one of the most contentious yet.

Both SoCs sport the latest Arm CPU processing components, improved 5G parts, and more intelligent machine learning smarts. For gamers, both chipsets claim impressive performance gains while also diverging more than ever in terms of their underlying architecture. So let’s dive into the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 vs Exynos 2200.

Read more: Why Exynos versus Snapdragon is such a big deal

Editors note: Both Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra models used in this article were running the latest version updates at the time of testing, which included the first patch to address the Exynos model's performance.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 vs Exynos 2200 specs

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1Samsung Exynos 2200
CPU
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
1x Cortex-X2 @ 3GHz
3x Cortex-A710 @ 2.5GHz
4x Cortex-A510 @ 1.8GHz
Samsung Exynos 2200
1x Cortex-X2 @ 2.8GHz
3x Cortex-A710 @ 2.5GHz
4x Cortex-A510 @ 1.8GHz
GPU
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Adreno 730
Samsung Exynos 2200
Xclipse 920
AMD RDNA2 cores
Machine learning
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Hexagon
Samsung Exynos 2200
Dual-core NPU + DSP
Modem
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
10Gbps download (mmWave)
Sub-6GHz speed unknown

3GPP Release 16 5G
Samsung Exynos 2200
7.35Gbps download
(mmWave)
5.1Gbps download
(sub-6GHz)

3GPP Release 16 5G
Camera
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
200MP single
64MP+36MP dual
36MP+36MP+36MP triple
8K/30fps HDR recording
Samsung Exynos 2200
200MP single
64MP+36MP dual
8K/30fps, 4K/120fps, 4K HDR recording
Video playback
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
8K, 4K 120fps
H.264, H.265, VP9 decode
Samsung Exynos 2200
8K, 4K 120fps
AV1, H.264, H.265, VP9 decode
RAM
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
LPDDR5
Samsung Exynos 2200
LPDDR5
Connectivity
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Bluetooth 5.2
Wi-Fi 6E
Samsung Exynos 2200
Bluetooth 5.2
Wi-Fi 6E
Process
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
4nm Samsung
Samsung Exynos 2200
4nm Samsung

Both chipsets utilize the latest big, medium, and little ArmV9 CPU cores with very similar clock speeds. However, Qualcomm’s Cortex-X2 core offers a slightly higher peak clock speed, so we expect a slight win for the chip in demanding single-threaded scenarios and benchmarks. The two SoCs are manufactured on Samsung’s 4nm process, so are bound by the same transistor density and corresponding heat and power profiles.

See also: What is an SoC? Everything you need to know

On paper, the biggest differentiator likely to show up in benchmarks is their graphics capabilities. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 showcases its latest Adreno 730 GPU while the Exynos 2200 debuts Samsung and AMD’s RDNA partnership with its Xclipse 920 GPU. Xclipse has been subject to much speculation, both good and bad, and is by far the most significant unknown here. So, let’s dive in.

Benchmark results

We’ll start our benchmarking by looking at some classic CPU and GPU metrics using GeekBench 5, 3DMark, and GFXBench. We’ve also compared the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra against other current-gen and last-gen smartphones to showcase where the phones fit in the big picture.

As expected, there’s not a lot of difference between the new chips in the CPU department. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 edges it on single-core performance but doesn’t perform quite as well in multi-core, according to GeekBench 5. Perhaps more surprising (and worrying) is that neither chipset seems to offer much in the way of a CPU performance uplift over the previous generation. While the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 provides some additional single-core grunt, its multi-core scores lag behind the Snapdragon 888 and Exynos 2100.

Read more: GPU vs CPU: What’s the difference?

Likewise, the Exynos 2200 appears no faster than its predecessor, which could have an impact on app and system responsiveness, which we’ll closely look at in a minute. The 8 Gen 1 powered Red Magic 7 is the exception. Thanks to its fan-assisted cooling setup, it pulls ahead in both single and multi-core scores. If you’d been worried these new chips might run hot, these results are confirmation that hefty cooling is required.

If you'd been worried these new chips run hot, these results confirm that hefty cooling is required.

On the GPU side, we see a clear lead for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and its Adreno 730. Benchmark scores eclipse previous-gen models in every test by as much as 70% in some scenarios. Qualcomm’s latest GPU appears to have closed the gap on Apple’s GPU advantage too. The Exynos 2200 and its new RDNA graphics don’t seem to be as impressive, even though they still sport notable gains over last-gen chipsets as well. Although the new GPU is up to 25% faster than the previous-gen Mali set up in some tests, it offers a more modest 15% uplift in more demanding benchmarks. Unfortunately, the chip can’t catch Apple’s lead.

To get a better look at day-to-day performance, we’re taking a closer look at the broader system performance and workload picture through the popular PCMark and AnTuTu benchmarks.

AnTuTu reflects our earlier assessments regarding CPU and GPU performance — showcasing minimal CPU but notable GPU gains, particularly for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Again, there’s a big gap here between the latest Snapdragon and Exynos chipsets, with the latter falling somewhere between the 8 Gen 1 and last-gen 888. Interestingly, both Galaxy S22 Ultra models score relatively low under AnTuTu’s UX category compared to rival smartphones and even last-gen models. We have noticed the rare moment of sluggishness when using both handset variants, suggesting something is not quite right with Samsung’s task scheduler.

PCMark’s suite of common tasks paints a less rosy picture for the new chips. Again, there’s an advantage for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 platform over the Exynos 2200, even if it’s only slight. This further suggests that the Snapdragon model will hand in a slightly smoother user experience across various common workloads. However, we see the 8 Gen 1 and Exynos 2200 offer no tangible benefit over previous-gen smartphones when it comes to general workloads. Both models of Galaxy S22 Ultra fair fractionally worse than last year’s Exynos 2100 and Snapdragon 888 across PCMark’s tests. In other words, don’t expect to see ground-breaking performance improvements in day-to-day apps with the move to a Galaxy S22 Ultra.

Don't expect to see great improvements for day-to-day apps.

Given how many 8 Gen 1 phones we’ve tested and the range of benchmarks we’ve run, the results from both the Exynos 2200 and Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 are perhaps a little disappointing. GPU results aside, of course. However, it’s not clear at this stage whether this is a CPU core issue, chip or manufacturing problem, a common software issue, or something else, perhaps in Android 12. Either way, when it comes to day-to-day performance, there doesn’t appear to be a tangible benefit to switching to the latest chips from either Qualcomm or Samsung.

Stress testing

With general performance at a standstill, it appears that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and, to a lesser extent, the Exynos 2200 only have gaming gains to write home about. However, the benchmarks we’ve run so far only show us an ideal, static look at performance. Sustaining high performance over a long period of time is the holy grail, so let’s check out some stress tests.

The results aren’t good. Performance from both the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and Exynos 2200 nose dives after just a couple of 3DMark Wildlife test runs, showing that sustained performance is an issue. This is especially disappointing compared to the iPhone 13 Pro Max, which holds up for longer. It’s one thing to catch the iPhone in a single run, but Apple’s handset is still better than Samsung’s when it comes to sustained performance.

Delving into the percentages, the Exynos 2200 gives up 17% of its performance after 4 runs but then stabilizes, losing about 35% at its worst. On the other hand, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Galaxy S22 Ultra gives up 28% of its performance after just four runs and continues to fall sharply before stabilizing at about 50% performance lost after 12 runs. Surrendering half its performance so quickly is entirely unacceptable. Despite producing a lower peak score, the Exynos 2200 sustains its performance better than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, at least inside the Galaxy S22 Ultra.

Surrendering half its performance so quickly is entirely unacceptable.

Other Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 phones hold up better, but there are still issues. The Oppo Find X5 Pro survives six runs (about six minutes) before throttling to about 36% of its peak. Even at its worst, the Find X5 Pro retains performance above previous-gen models, unlike the Galaxy S22 Ultra. The much better cooled Red Magic 7 can sustain peak performance for 11 runs and holds up very well for the entire 20. Effective cooling certainly seems to be a requirement to run these latest chipsets at this full potential for any period of time.

We also ran an in-house benchmark to test endurance for even longer. The results confirm our earlier assessments. For starters, there’s some worrying inconsistency in the Exynos 2200’s CPU setup, which sees performance drop not long after the benchmark starts. We ran the test a few times and this kept happening, hinting at a significant pairing back of CPU performance after a short initial burst. Eventually, the performance stabilized, but we see a notable 13% reduction in peak scores. Aggressive throttling could contribute to the sluggish general performance identified in earlier benchmarks. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1’s CPU performance remains virtually rock steady during the same test.

However, we notice a very steep decline in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1’s GPU performance during the same test. The Adreno 730 GPU quickly falls to just 40% of its initial performance, following what we observed with the 3DMark Wildlife stress test. Meanwhile, the Exynos 2200’s Xclipse 920 holds up better over many more tests before dropping a similar amount of performance after 30 test runs, approximately 47 minutes. While the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 may look like the better gaming chip at first glance, it can’t sustain its peak GPU performance for as long as the Exynos.

GPU throttling is a problem for the Snapdragon and CPU throttling for the Exynos.

Our stress test also gave us a battery-life comparison for the two handsets. Under extreme load, the Galaxy S22 Ultra Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 lastest 222 minutes versus 211 minutes for the Exynos variant. An 11-minute difference is close enough to be within the margin of error. We don’t have any reason to believe that either handset will present notably inferior battery life.

Overall we’re pretty disappointed at the discrepancy between peak and sustained benchmark scores from both chipsets. Although last year’s smartphones weren’t perfect in this regard, they managed to sustain performance much longer than the 8 Gen 1 and Exynos 2200. Of course, these stress tests are more challenging than most workloads you’re going to encounter in the real world. But it doesn’t bode well for device longevity, as more advanced games hit the market that will eventually stress cutting-edge hardware.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra performance verdict

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 3DMark benchmark
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

To sum up our results, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 comes out ahead of the Exynos 2200 in classic benchmark tests, primarily thanks to a very high GPU score that rivals Apple’s A15 Bionic. Otherwise, there’s not much to write home about in terms of CPU and system-wide performance improvements, which appear to be in the same region as previous-gen smartphones. Ultimately though, there are no real winners in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 vs Exynos 2200 showdown. Both chipsets powering the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultras we’ve tested have some significant problems.

Although the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 appears to have a much faster graphics chip on paper, performance is utterly unsustainable without sufficient cooling, which the Galaxy S22 Ultra can’t provide. The Oppo Find X3 Pro showcases a similar issue with the 8 Gen 1 as well. The speculator in me wonders whether Samsung’s AMD partnership spooked Qualcomm, leading to an over-aggressively clocked GPU to appear more competitive. Either way, it seems that the Xclipse 920 offers better-sustained performance than Qualcomm’s Adreno 730.

Deep dive: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 vs Google Tensor

The Exynos 2200 has its issues too. Its GPU is slower out of the gate and also throttles back when placed under stress, although not as aggressively as Qualcomm’s chip. But it’s the CPU performance issues that may be the most alarming, as the chip appears to score slightly lower in GeekBench 5 and PCMark’s workload tests compared to its predecessor. We also noticed CPU performance problems during our sustainability test that don’t appear with the Snapdragon model. This likely explains other reports of occasional sluggish app performance with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Exynos model. Although I can’t say I’ve noticed too much of this myself.

Performance isn't bad enough to say don't buy a phone with these chips, but both underwhelm in their own ways

The takeaway is that we’re looking at one of the more disappointing chipset generations in recent times, at least where the Galaxy S22 Ultra is concerned. Performance isn’t bad enough for me to say don’t buy a phone with these chips, but both are underwhelming in their own ways. Samsung’s AMD RDNA partnership isn’t the game-changer some had hoped, while Qualcomm’s own graphical gains don’t hold up under stress. Qualcomm and Samsung market their chipsets as the best in the business but what we’ve seen is two companies struggling to extract major performance gains from the mobile form factor.

I’ll caveat this article by saying that CPU performance in the region of last-gen is not itself a problem and we’ve seen rock-solid frame rates on demanding games like Genshin Impact. However, more demanding games will inevitably appear in the coming years and a lack of sustainable performance today is a worry, especially as performance scores we’ve seen can fall below last year’s models.

See our verdict: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review