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Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

About The Author

CNET Editor

Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon

Loud and Clear

Is HTC's single core faster than dual core?

One of the big shifts in smartphones this year has been towards dual-core processors, with quad-core chipsets beginning to emerge on the horizon. But does dual core actual mean twice as fast?

The Sensation XL and XE showing BrowserMark benchmark results.
(Credit: CBSi)

We've been testing both the HTC Sensation XE and XL this week, with the smaller-screened XE packing a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, and the larger XL using a single-core 1.5GHz processor. The XE is being dubbed as the fastest smartphone in the market at this time, outpacing the Samsung Galaxy S II and the HTC Evo 3D, both with dual-core 1.2GHz CPUs. This is exciting news for any smartphone specs junkie, but, remarkably, it's the XL that's showing us performance worthy of getting excited over.

As a part of our standard testing of Android smartphones, we run a collection of benchmarks available online and on the Android Market. There are a number of issues with relying on these benchmarks for irrefutable performance data, but we do find that there is a strong connection between good benchmark results and good everyday application performance.

We usually start with a Rightware BrowserMark test, which runs a series of performance tests through the browser on a device, testing JavaScript execution, some Flash animation playback and several database read and write speed tests. Typically, dual-core phones have this year been achieving scores in the range of about 50,000, with the Galaxy S II previously holding the crown with a score of 63,266. Dual-core tablets running iOS and Android Honeycomb have been achieving scores in the range of 80,000.

As you can see in the photo above, the Sensation XL has blown past its dual-core competition in this test, consistently gaining a score in excess of 80,000; 30 per cent faster than the score that the Sensation XL manages with its dual-core processor.

Both handsets displaying Vellamo benchmark results.
(Credit: CBSi)

In a different test, the Vellamo benchmark created by the Qualcomm Innovation Centre, the XE and XL finish with a nearly identical score. This test also runs a bunch of web-based stress tests, including a full SunSpider test and the V8 Benchmark. In comparison, the Galaxy S II scored 904, and the new Motorola Razr scored 775.

There is one key difference between these HTC handsets, which may play a factor in these results, although it's hard to gauge the effect that this might have. Though the XL has the less-impressive processing specs, it has a newer version of both the Android OS (2.3.5) and the HTC Sense UI (3.5). Both of these key pieces of software could include a significant update to the browser software on the handset, and while this creates an uneven playing field to test on, it does suggest that customers choosing the XL over the XE, or any other dual-core phone, may not be disadvantaged in performance as much as the difference between single- and dual-core processors might suggest. In fact, you may actually get your hands on the faster phone.

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CareyO posted a comment   

Hmm. These benchmarks make good news for people who are strict businesses users with the occasional angry birds splurge, however I'm interested how the different processors would fare playing some more of the advanced games. Like say N.O.V.A. for example.With Joes bio mentioning how he likes video games I'm slightly disappointed and surprised that he didn't test these capabilities as well. I suppose if one phone has a better graphics processor like a Tegra while the other did not, the test would be heavily skewed. But if both of these phones are sans Tega then wouldn't it be a pretty good thing to test?


TereraiD posted a comment   

I got 102 020 on my iPad 2 and 61 599 on my HTC Sensation through Dolphin Browser


Joseph Hanlon posted a reply   

Is that iPad 2 result on iOS 5? That's impressive. We got 67867 when we tested the iPad 2 on iOs 4.3.


nospamboz posted a comment   

I got over 150K Rightware on my SGS II running Cyanogenmod 7.1, overclocked to 1600 MHz. It got warm, though. Back to underclocking to 500 Mhz, where it gets 47K, good enough!


Crowz posted a comment   

This has put my mind at ease, thank you Joseph! Now i'll just decide on which handset feels better and not worry about a technical dud.

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