The Galaxy S4 is now available in nearly every major market(s) of the world. However, most of the major markets, including the United States are getting the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 powered Galaxy S4, and not the Exynos powered one. The Exynos 5410 powered Galaxy S4 is an interesting handset since it is the first mobile device ever to make use of ARM’s big.LITTLE technology. The Exynos 5410 consists of four ARM-A15 cores clocked at 1.6GHz, and four low-powered Cortex-A7 cores.
The basic idea behind ARM’s big.LITTLE technology is that for general usage the handset uses the low-power consuming Cortex A7 cores, thus saving battery life. It is only when the user runs an intensive game, benchmark, browses a heavy website or when the device is under heavy load that the ARM-A15 cores switch themselves on to provide the performance boost. Samsung is only releasing the Exynos 5410 powered Galaxy S4 in non-LTE network markets, since the Exynos powered SGS4 does not support LTE networks.
I managed to spend some time with the Exynos variant of the Galaxy S4, and also managed to run some of the most popular benchmarks on the phone.
The first benchmark I ran was the recently released 3D Mark for Android. I ran the Ice Storm test, and the results were pretty surprising. The Exynos powered Galaxy S4 managed to score 9439 points, which is lower than that of the Nexus 4. However, I won’t consider 3D Mark to be accurate, since according to them the Xperia SP — a dual core Snapdragon Krait phone – manages to beat the Exynos 5 Octa variant of the Galaxy S4.
Next, I ran AnTuTu where the Galaxy S4 managed to score 25346 points.
I then ran the popular and, arguably, one of the best benchmarks apps available on the Android platform – GLBenchmark. In each and every benchmark, the PowerVR SGX544MP3 GPU inside the Galaxy S4 flexed its muscle and came out on top. The Galaxy S4 managed to beat the HTC One, Nexus 10, Nexus 4 and even the iPhone 5.
You can compare the Galaxy S4 scores with other phones from AnandTech’s HTC One GPU performance review page.
Here is how the Galaxy S4 performs in browser based benchmarks like SunSpider and Google’s Octane benchmark. I ran both the benchmarks on the stock Samsung browser as well as on the latest stable version of Chrome.
Google Octane scores -:
For comparison sake, my Nexus 4 scores 1297ms on the SunSpider benchmark on the AOSP browser, and around 1500 points in the Octane benchmark. On the other hand, the HTC One scores 1110ms, and the iPhone 5 scores 908ms in the SunSpider benchmark. In the Google Octane benchmark, the HTC One (using the Chrome browser) scores 2032 points, and surprisingly, the Nexus 10 scores a whopping 3784 beating the Galaxy S4 by a huge margin. The huge difference in points can be attributed to the thermal restrictions of both the devices.
Initial Hands-On Impression
The first thing that will strike you about the Galaxy S4 is the screen-to-bezel ratio. Samsung has done a commendable job in fitting a 5-inch screen inside a phone whose dimensions are the same as its predecessor. The Super AMOLED HD screen on the Galaxy S4 is also much brighter than the display found on the Galaxy Note 2 and S3.
What kills the excellent hardware of Galaxy S4 is TouchWIZ. TouchWIZ on the Galaxy S2 was decent enough with good usability features. On the Galaxy S3, TouchWIZ felt slightly bloated, and on the Galaxy S4, Samsung has taken the meaning of bloat to a whole new level. The new re-organized Settings menu is simply terrible and just confuses the user. All the new S-features are nothing but a gimmick as well.
All these bloat does show its negative side as well. In day-to-day usage, you will actually find the Nexus 4 smoother than the Galaxy S4. For example, the browser switching animation/process on the Galaxy S4 is terribly slow, and by the time the browser tab window opened in the S4, I had opened two new tabs on my Nexus 4. I had used a pre-production HTC One back in mid-March and never did the device lag once. The Galaxy S4, even with a much faster and arguably superior chipset, and the final retail software, lags in some places and this is downright unacceptable.