How much do you know about your phone? Beyond a name, a price, and vague sense of whether it’s “high end” or not, you’re probably in the dark.
Even if you look up the stats, you don’t really know how it performs. The only sure way to know is to run a few benchmarks.
This not only gives you an idea of how fast your phone is, but also lets you see how it fares against marketplace rivals or older phones, and can help you troubleshoot problems by comparing against similar phones.
Don’t worry, benchmarking your Android phone is easy and cheap. All these tools are free, fun to use, and a few are gorgeous enough to show off to friends.
Setup and Prep
Before you benchmark your phone or tablet, you’ll want to charge it up completely, then kill all background tasks in the multitasking menu.
You don’t want anything to interfere with your tests, so you also might want to put it in Airplane mode to prevent it from fetching mail or receiving calls.
Make sure the ambient temperature isn’t too hot, as the difference in results can be dramatic.
If you’re running a bunch of these tests in a short time and find the device is getting really hot, causing benchmark scores to fall, try removing any heavy cases like Otterbox’s Defender. They act like insulation.
Don’t expect test results to tell you everything. Established designs sometimes outperform newer replacements thanks to better cooling or highly-tuned code.
Bigger devices like tablets simply have more space to play with, allowing the use of faster, more power-hungry chips.
Also in play are manufacturer and carrier Android add-ons that make a big difference in how fast a device can feel.
And of course, the fastest phone isn’t necessarily the best. You have to consider size, design, materials, camera quality, sound quality, and much more.
Gamers have unique needs when it comes to performance. Super high-density screens are easy on the eyes, but it’s tough for small, low-power mobile graphics processors to run games smoothly at really high resolutions.
As displays skyrocket to 4K, selecting a device with a fast graphics processor and a slightly lower display resolution can help keep those demanding 3D games running smoothly.
3DMark reigns supreme for PC gamers and has made impressive headway on other platforms as the de facto standard for 3D benchmarking.
The free Android version includes a flashy demo reel as well as the physics and GPU tests from the “Ice Storm” module of the Windows suite, while adding a few mobile-specific queries like battery life tests.
Usage is push-button simple. Results are shared online via Futuremark’s cloud database and web comparison system.
It’s easy to see where you sit on the ladder, and although this feature isn’t exclusive, Futuremark has been doing it a lot longer than anyone else here, so the tools provided for comparing, recording, and sharing are mature and well-executed.
CPU test results track with real-world usage but are geared more towards gaming loads than everyday operations. The battery test is handy, but has the same limited scope.
It only gives you an idea of how long your device will last while pushing pixels as hard as it can.
3DMark isn’t the only game in town when it comes to mobile GPU benchmarking. GFXBench arrived early in Android’s history and delivers more detailed results than Futuremark’s flagship.
It’s also smaller; a big advantage if space is at a premium and your phone or tablet doesn’t support removable media.
GFXBench is all about the details, and the developers serve them up page after page. You get more than framerates, and the numbers aren’t abstractions.
Driver overhead figures, rendering quality tests, precision, and computing performance all get attention, taking GFXBench beyond gaming and deep into graphics geek territory.
Like 3DMark, you also get access to a crossplatform database that extends to desktop systems, but GFXBench doesn’t leave Mac users out in the cold.
Accurate results aside, certain areas of the test look decidedly low-rent these days. Objects, effects, lighting, and other aesthetics are in need of a makeover.
The hardware moguls at Qualcomm may have created Vellamo, but they don’t play favorites; the results show no favoritism towards Snapdragon processors.
Vellamo doesn’t test everything.
It’s mainly focused on testing browser speed, but also includes a mode called Metal that goes low-level for CPU, memory, and bandwidth testing, and a Multicore mode that tests the efficiency of thread latency and handling.
Browser benchmarks may have fallen out of favor as stand-ins for proper mobile CPU tests, but they can still tell you quite a bit about the efficiency of the web browsing engine.
On Android, changing up your browser can have a huge impact on performance.
Like most of the packages here, running the main suite takes a single button press, but some of these tests run a few minutes, so bring along some patience.
Fortunately, Vellamo happens to be a pleasure to use, with elements of Material Design already incorporated into the user interface ahead of Lollipop’s release, so waiting isn’t a chore.
Swiping left on the start screen brings up the results table, device comparison list, and information panels, although you won’t find desktop computers or operating systems other than Android represented here.
Qualcomm’s benchmarking largess extends only to compatible hardware.
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