Since the introduction of smartphones, manufacturers have been working relentlessly to find a suitable source to fuel all those power intensive applications. MHz changed to GHz, 100′s turned to 1000′s and single-core CPU’s were swiftly upgraded. The birth of the dual-core processor changed the game; they enabled a ridiculous amount of power to be squeezed out of not one, but two separate cores, allowing for slicker UI transitions, stutter-free video playback and smooth operation of resource heavy programs and applications.
Having a dual-core processor in a mobile is a relatively new concept, and it’s only in the past few months that we’ve seen the first few trickle into the market. If you’re looking to get a slice of dual-core action, but are somewhat confused about the difference between those currently available then we might be able to help. Our three part guide will dissect four top dual-corers and pit them against one another to find the multi-core champion.
Part one sees the first two dual-core devices to hit the market lock horns, part two deals with the late arrivals and in part three the winners of the previous two go head-to-head. We begin with the NVIDIA Tegra 2-toting LG Optimus 2X and Exymor-laden Samsung Galaxy S II.
The three key areas that we’ll be casting our expert eye over are:
Note: Our Galaxy S II device is a pre-production model and therefore comes with a dual 1GHz chipset. Final models of the S II will be shipped with a 1.2GHz CPU and we’ll keep that in mind throughout, however, it does provide a great opportunity for us to put the 1GHz NVIDIA chip against a 1GHz version of Samsung’s Exymor CPU.
The LG Optimus 2X was the first dual-core to hit the market and the power of the multi-core was apparent from the offset. User Interface transitions on the 2X are buttery smooth and navigation around the entire platform is swift and responsive to touch. Application downloads are amongst the quickest we’ve seen, as is opening them up for that matter. Gone are the days of prodding the screen relentlessly in a vain effort to open up a program before the screensaver kicks in.
The same can be said for the Samsung Galaxy S II – on the surface it shares the same rapid qualities as the 2X, although the browsing experience noticeably surpasses anything else we’ve used. Pages render without fault and at breakneck speed, and zooming in and out of pages is an undemanding task with the intuitive tilt mechanic.
If we were to base our judgement on usability alone, then we’d have to say that the pair are pretty well matched. So it’s left to a benchmarking app to provide a true reflection of CPU performance.
To get an accurate reading we’re using the Quadrant Benchmark app, which tests 5 key areas of a processor, CPU, Memory, Input / Output, 2D Graphics and 3D Graphics. It then collates the scores and awards the handset an overall mark.
The results are as follows:
2536: LG Optimus 2X 1GHz dual-core CPU, ULP GeForce GPU, 512MB RAM, Android 2.2 Froyo
2606: Samsung Galaxy S II 1GHz dual-core CPU, Mali-400MP GPU, 1GB RAM, Android 2.3 Gingerbread
As expected the Samsung Galaxy S II came out on top everytime, we ask you to once again remember that this is a 1GHz model. The final 1.2GHz product recently clocked well over 3000.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S II
With time on its side, the Samsung Galaxy S II arrived kitted out with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, the LG Optimus 2X on the other hand was hastily brought to market and so suffers with old software, Android 2.2 Froyo.
Many argue that Android Froyo wasn’t made with multi-core CPUs in mind and as such, isn’t fully optimised to support the demand of a dual-core processor. While there are elements of truth in this, the Linux kernel used in Android OS has supported multi-core CPUs for a while now, so don’t expect the Optimus 2X’s 2.2 operating system to drastically hamper performance.
That said, when the update to Android 2.3 Gingerbread does arrive for the 2X, it will bring a few welcome improvements, which should eliminate laggy gameplay and provide more efficient multitasking.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S II
Both handsets feature good hardware. For starters, each has a dominant and sleek front face. The Samsung Galaxy S II sports a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, which throws out crisp and vivid colours and sits well on the modest 66 x 125 x 9mm frame. These are measurements that Samsung boast make the S II the world’s thinnest phone.
The LG comes in at a slightly chunkier 63 x 124 x 11mm and brandishes a lesser 4-inch LCD touchscreen. Images are still clear and bright, however, there is a noticeable difference between the two.
The Optimus 2X and Galaxy S II share an 8 Megapixel primary camera, and both have a front facing job also – the S II has a 2 Megapixel offering, whilst the 2X sports a 1.3 imager.
In the memory stakes the LG Optimus 2X comes with 8GB of internal storage and 512 MB RAM, although there is additional memory available via a microSD card, making the total offering 40GB. The Samsung Galaxy S II meanwhile comes in both 16 and 32GB models with 1GB of RAM. As with the 2X, there’s a 32GB upgrade via an external card, allowing for up to 64GB of memory.
Going toe-to-toe in the hardware department there’s a clear winner.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S II
So it’s a clean sweep for the Samsung Galaxy S II, which bettered its dual-core counterpart across all three areas with the inclusion of the latest software, Super AMOLED Plus display and rapid clockspeed. Don’t forget that this was all with an ‘unfinished’ handset. We expect a faster, more refined experience from the final 1.2GHz piece.
Having said that, the LG Optimus 2X is still a fiercely powerful smartphone and is a powerhouse well worth considering, especially with the 2.3 update in the pipeline. We can’t help but wonder however, whether given the same time that Samsung had to work on the S II, LG would have been able to produce something of similar standing.
See our video comparison below:
Next week: Motorola Atrix vs. HTC Sensation