This article is part of the Understanding Android Specification series:
Many smartphones these days are very similar to one another, and that can make distinguishing them from one another very difficult. We’ve already gone over how to read Android specs in part 1 and part 2 of this series, but that requires keeping up with the stats for various models on your own and devising your own means of determining which is best. Android benchmarks is another way you can use to determine the capability of the smartphone. You will be able to see that two smartphones of similar specification perform differently under the same condition.
There are several apps available that will “benchmark” a phone for you, testing its various capabilities and ranking them against one another. The process spits out a number that doesn’t mean much all on its own but it is a relatively objective way to compare hardware. Here are a few apps that will benchmark your phone and how to understand those numbers.
What Do Benchmark Apps Do?
AnTuTu Benchmark is a free app that can serve as your one-stop-shop for smartphone comparisons. Out of the box it ranks many of the top smartphones, letting you glance at the list and walk away with an idea of which models are currently the best-in-class. The app also provides a list of your device’s specs. This way you can know precisely what your screen resolution is or what processor powers your device.
After testing your phone or tablet, you can see how it ranks against the competition. Then you can dive deeper to see which areas your device is strong or weak in.
If you don’t want to trust just one app to make this decision, here are a few others that perform largely the same task. Vellamo Mobile Benchmark, from Qualcomm – the company that makes the processors found in today’s powerful smartphones – is another free option, while Geekbench 3 by Primate Labs will set you back $1.99.
Where Do They Get Their Numbers?
These apps get their numbers by running your device through a number of tests that simulate the kind of strain users could be expected to put their phone under.
The AnTuTu Benchmark test consists of testing runtime, CPU interger, and CPU float performance. The test moves on to measure RAM performance and speed. After that, it gauges how well a phone can multitask. It then measures database I/O performance and storage I/O performance before moving on to graphics. It measures second and third graphics separately, this time displaying the results in real-time and showing how many frames per second the device is capable of running smoothly. By the end it produces a score showing its ranking relative to the competition.
It’s worth pointing out that benchmark results aren’t entirely trustworthy. When the Galaxy Note 3 launched last year, Ars Technica found that Samsung made adjustments that could inflate the phone’s results by up to 20%, changes specifically designed to kick in when running benchmark tests.
As it turns out, many other manufacturers do the same thing. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way for general users to tell when numbers are being inflated or when they’re not. At that point you just have to search around the web a bit and conduct more research.
Whether or not benchmark results matter is an opinion that varies from person to person. Some people invest a great deal in them, while others couldn’t care less. That said, you’re free to take a hybrid approach. The results don’t have to determine which phone you buy, but they can help point you towards your top few options. Of course, at the end of the day, the choice is yours. Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments below.