Android Central

With all the talk of quad-core vs dual-core, and seeing the performance of both in the same phone, we want to know.  Do you want a dual-core or quad-core chip in your next device?  Last year around this time we were starting to see dual-core phones emerge from manufacturers.  They all promised the best performance in a mobile device you've ever seen.  And they were right.  The Tegra 2, and later the OMAP 4 and Exynos were all strong performers.  Then came quad-core.  The same promises were made.  And again, they proved to be true.  Tegra 3 (otherwise known as Kal-El) put last years dual-core chips to shame.

Now we have Qualcomm firing back with a dual-core chip, the S4.  They are making the same promises.  Better performance, better battery life.  As we saw in Phil's review (gotta love the header!) of the One X they are mostly right.  Some people still have a soft spot for more cores, though, and performance is the same.  So what say you, dear reader? Tell us in tonight's poll!


Reader comments

Late-night poll: Dual-core or quad-core?


I don't care how many cores it has. As long as it delivers a smooth, fast, and hassle-free user experience, I'm completely fine with whatever SoC is in my phone.

Exactly as Officerpolarbear says, it all seems reminiscent of the Ghz wars, or the MP trumps with cameras, While its great that the technology has room to stretch its legs if required, lets not pretend that any of it will make a huge difference to the phones in our pockets currently overnight.

Everybody loves numbers. One is indisputably higher than the other, therefore makes great marketing. That's how it will be forever.

Poll's a little vague imo... In the case of S4 vs any quad A9 SoC (specially any quad SoC without integrated LTE radios) I'd take S4, hands down. Any of them are gonna bring enough performance, but S4 clearly brings superior battery life:

A year from now it's very likely this will all be moot tho, everyone will move to A15 quad core SoCs built on smaller processes and with integrated radios. For now Qualcomm's got the edge imo, licensing both the ARM design AND the architecture clearly paid dividends this year.

They're gonna make a killing in the US if rumors of the quad Exynos not having integrated LTE are true (every SGS3 here will thus end up w/S4).

Absolutely agree. Having previously read Anandtech's review about the ATT HTC One X, I believe it outperforms any other phone out there. Samsung will have a hard time competing.

Wrong !!! Sg3 will have Exynos with LTE but then i'm with sprint & whio cares , LTE will not be available in Fl for @ least 2 years

though they said they have made a cdma/lte quadcore exynos which means it could appear on verizon and sprint in said form. just like the s2 where sprint got to keep exynos with wimax but att and tmobile got snapdragom S3 on their 4g networks

Not one of the better polls.
Just because the S4 is better than Tegra 3 doesn't mean anything.
What happens when Qualcomm uses the same S4 technology for quad core CPUs?
Since the basic 1.4 dual core CPU's came (galaxy note) I don't really care which CPU it has.
Give me a One-X with a Razr Maxx type of battery and I will truly get excited.

The S4 is so efficient it actually delivers battery life comparable to the RAZR MAXX despite having a much smaller battery, in some cases it actually delivers superior battery life (tho talk time is still something no one can beat Moto at). Click the link I posted above, I was optimistic about S4's efficiency and I'm still surprised at just how well it does. Had they used a larger battery, man, there'd be no comparison... You'd have a 3 day phone for light users, heh.

RAZR MAXX isn't designed or marketed for light users. Its for users who constantly do power intensive tasks even like having the screen on, high brightness for a long period of time. s4 efficiency with a maxx battery and maybe I'd get through the day without carrying my charger with me. I'd have to see first.

As long as you have MORE THAN ONE core it doesn't seem to matter.

In theory, 4 cores out perform two cores on busy systems. (My Quadcore desktop easily outperforms my DualCore laptop with identical clock speeds).

But smartphones simply aren't that busy yet. The amount of work they can do in the background is still very bandwidth and battery constrained, so as long as they can handle the step-and-fetch-it tasks for the screen (which is handled by the graphics chip) they really don't require that may cores yet.

That day will come.

The winner hasn't been determined, because the race has just started. S4 is plenty good. But the Tegra 3 isn't done. They can shrink their dies too, and come out with a 28nm chip. Its a foot race.

They'll shrink the die for Tegra 3+ but that won't be out until the end of the year at best, S4's gonna have a pretty good run imo.

Eventually quadcore for me. Seen the video of the comparison between the two showing
the dualcore keeping up with the quadcore. Thing is, are linpack and those other
benchmarks truly multi-threaded benchmarks? And was the quadcore phone set up to
fully utilize all for cores? Reminds me of the ole 3dmark 2005 video card test between the
ATI X800XL and the Nvidia 6800GT. The ATI video card scored a little higher overall.
So people thought it was the better/faster card. Thing is 3dmark 2005 ran Shadermark3
or SM 3.0. So when it detected the NV 6800GT had SM 3.0 and the X800XL didn't

It would test the NV 6800GT in SM 3.0 and the X800XL in SM 2.0 Thus giving the
X800XL a little higher score.

It took about a year and a half for games and alot of other computer programs to
catch up/become multi-threaded and actually catch up with the hardware.

First video game i actually seen that required (for optimum performance)a quadcore
CPU was Battlefield 3 which came out just last year. Quad core CPUs have been out
for what 5 years now?

The first Core 2 Quads came out in early 2007, so over 5 years. In addition to that, the vast majority of desktop applications are still not very multi threaded (if at all), writing proper multi threaded code is no easy feat... Humans just aren't wired to think that way.

That should tell you all you need to know really, if it took 3-5 years to really take full advantage of quad cores on desktops, and even then it's only beneficial in the most extreme usage cases (gaming, video/photo editing), how do you think it's gonna go down on phones where people keep a model two years at most and usage patters are generally around lightweight apps?

I'm not saying quads aren't the future, but quad core processors with lower IPC than newer dual core designs are not the best option from an efficiency standpoint. Even if you make a very POWER efficient quad with a low power companion core etc., you still wasted a lot of physical die space on the extra cores...

Space that could be used for integrated radios, a bigger/badder GPU, etc.; so you're still less efficient in a sense (hence Tegra 3's lack of LTE).

I feel like you're completely ignoring multitasking. Some of us may want to have 7 widgets running all the time, or to listen to mp3s while running navigation and still be able to check e-mail at a red light, for instance.

I **DEFINITELY** took advantage of that on my desktop from day 1, long before anyone multithreaded any common applications.

Widgets and music playback are really really lightweight activities that don't significantly tax even the current dual core phones on the market with older SoC... I keep 6 or 7 widgets on my home screens and I'm always playing music over my car's Bluetooth or headphones, I've never seen it slow down the phone while I'm using Nav or doing anything else. To be honest those things are bottlenecked more by the amount of available RAM (and network bandwith if streaming/updating) than by your CPU, they really aren't intensive multi tasking chores.

It depends on the processor (not just the architecture, but also the chip maker). For example, I'm not a big fan of the Tegra series ever since comparing my dual-core Tegra 2 device and my dual-core Exynos device.

The Exynos runs circles aroun Tegra 2. It's quite literally twice as fast, in my experience (and in benchmarks).

The dual-core Exynos is also quite a bit faster than Qualcomm's last generation dual-core chip (the likes of which saw itself land on the EVO 3D, etc). So I'd have to say I'm trusting Sammy's next chip (the Exynos Quad-Core) above Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 and NVidia's Tegra 3.

You do realize one generation doesn't have anything to do with the next no? Tegra, Sx, and Exynos are just branding, pure marketing terms. All SoC manufacturers are licensing the same designs from ARM and then pairing it with other components as they see fit (GPU, etc). Qualcomm is the exception in that they're the only one that licenses the full architecture and actually alters it...

When we were talking S3 vs Exynos, Qualcomm was actually pushing an older souped up A8 design that fell somewhere between A8 & A9 once you took clock speeds into account. Samsung had a full A9 design in the Exynos and a much better GPU, tho they launched a bit later.

This time around it's quite the opposite, Samsung has the souped up old design (A9 with more cores) whereas Qualcomm is working off a newer ARM architecture on the S4. I hate car analogies but in this instance favoring Exynos or Sx based on past models is akin to favoring a 2012 Camaro over a 2012 Mustang based on how the 1975 designs performed. :p

For me (average joe user) as long as everything is running smooth, and my fone doesn't freeze up, I could care less how many cores. I currently have the Rezound and I do believe it's a dualcore and it performs flawlessly.

The more cores a CPU has can help only to a certain point. The same thing was argued when Intel released multi-core processors for the PC. Benchmarks, as well as practical use, will show the S4 and Tegra3 in a dead-heat right now until more apps are developed for taking advantage of all four cores and not just one or two.

Another example would be video game development. When the Xbox 360 and PS3 were released, the games had very good visuals, but both companies stressed that as developers got more experienced with squeezing out every last bit of processing capability from the machines, the games would get more and more realistic. That has come to pass as the games out today are way more graphically intensive than those of a couple years ago.

It's been proven the S4 works just as well as the Tegra if not better, so if I can get even 20% better battery power from the S4 then yippy!!!

Single, dual, quad...I just don't give a damn how many cores there are. If one core does what I need it to do then I see no problem. Windows Phone is smoother and often faster than my Galaxy Nexus (I have an HTC Titan as well as the Nexus) and it is still single-core. How everything works together to make it so that I don't concern myself with how it does it matters more to me than processor wars.

Also, as an avg sort of user, when it comes to processing capability, I care about a smartphone being able to take advantage of ALL of LTE's capabilities, 6/8/10/12mbps, is plenty enough to load web pages instantly, in the blink of an eye. As an avg user, that's what I care about, fast web page load times!!!

Whatever runs stock out of the box for me. GNex has been a gem on what amounts to an older chip set at this point. Could it be snappier? Sure. But this is what I like. Could be a miniaturized Atari 2600 strapped to a toaster in there for all I care.

You forgot to add Intel's single core. From early test they were competitive with what was shown at the CES.
And do you think Intel will be coming out with a dual core soon? Moto is supposed to have a phone with the Intel chip coming out soon, around the same time the RAZR HD is supposed to be released??

delete! Fine, it will not. Android should just join the sheep...nobody cares about a SoC....and the Triangles of arc, the propencety of growth...I want nothing to do with that. I still build my PC on cores and graphic cards, drives, and storage....yuck. I think most of us hardcore android fanatics build our own systems..and the fact that people don't care anymore as long as the "current" software feels good are sheep. Let them bah, bah...then a year passes and those with better chips ease into the next year, while those happy with sense 4.0 get smoked in 15 months on a S4.

If they're all have about the same performance and battery life, how about the one that stays a little bit cooler?

For this year, I believe Phones needs Dual A15 cores, and tablets need Quad A15 Cores... thought the power optimization in the SoC design can help bring the Quad A9 to phones easily like the companion 5th core in Tegra 3 for example...

I believe SoC makers should focus more now on Dual A15 cores along with more powerful GPU as phone makers are going for higher resolutions, some phones already have higher resolution than some netbooks !!

same goes for tablets, they should have Quad A15 now but with more powerful GPU's to handle the higher resolution displays... I guess a 1080p/1440p for tablets and 720p for smartphones are the best choices..

some guys will ask why 1440p for tablets ( 2560x1440 ) ? because this is 4x amount of pixels that a 720p display have, so designing apps with such scale is very easy...

the problem will relate to SoC with powerfull enough GPU's to handle such resolutions, and display manufacturing... iPad 3 is struggling with it's resolution now, that's why I said 1080p also which is 1.5x over 720p.. harder for app developers, but Android developers can already handle the challenge :)

I started with the thunderbolt & loved it besides the shitty battery life, then I got the Nexus which was an amazing phone but I didn't want to deal with another crappy battery so I got the Razr Maxx, which is by no means even close to the Nexus but the battery is awesome.. I think they both have duel core.. The nexus runs a million times better than the Maxx but wanted a better lasting battery.. Hopefully when the Maxx gets ICS that will help performance..

I fell for this last year & I got carried away with the whole Tegra Vs. OMAP Vs. S3 Vs. Exynos

Now after I tried The Tegra 2 (My Atrix) , the S3 (Sensation & Sensation XE) & Exynos (SGSII & Tab 7+)

They all the same to me & I came to the result :
It doesn't manner what type is it & how high it was clocked as long as its 1 GHz or above

I think it only matters when It comes to games & since the GPU is part of the SOC (thats what I read anyway) that's why I'll go for the nIVIDA chips ...
I already got burned for picking something else over a nIVIDA GPU

Are you serious? You have all three chip sets and you can't tell the difference in there day to day speeds? How about you let someone with a iPhone 4s play with each device and see which one they feel is as smooth and as fast as there iPhone. I will bet the farm that they will choose the exynos powered phone. The other two phones are utter crap by comparison. In fact let's make it a little more interesting. How about you put a crazy live wallpaper and see which phone cries to its mommy and lags like crazy. The exynos phone will eat that for breakfast with 6 other task in the background.

also I was actually able to convert a few iPhone friends to android because of how smooth the exynos powered phone is. If you hang out enough with them that is one of there biggest gripes. The exynos powered phone is the second fastest android phone. The fastest is now the one x. Its also funny that you choose the worse of the dual core chips. That thing is barely smoother than a single core hummingbird chip. You must work or nvidia or something

edit: Also to give you an idea how powerful a exynos is and how underwhelming a tegra 3 is. The exynos benchmarks the same numbers as a quad core tegra 3. The tegra 3's numbers blows away the S3's, the omaps, and the tegra 2's. But the Exynos holds its own. The only processor that is definitively faster than the dual core exynos is the S4 but the quad core exynos beats the S4 by a good 30%.

Go to youtube and see the side by side comparisons between a exynos powered GS2 vs the Tegra 3 powered One X. You would be surprised that the GS2 is actually smoother in a few test such as the browser scrolling and pinch to zoom, app opening speed is a draw. The exynos is a absolute beast of a previous gen dual core. I'm even sure if those versions of the GS2 in the vs videos is running ICS yet with hardware acceleration because if its not, the performance will only go up even more with ICS.

A moot question right now because current quad core chips do not work on LTE. Does not matter if you have LTE in your area yet,(like Me) because it's coming and all they are making for the US anymore is LTE phones. Next year however will be different as they will have quad core chips able to run on LTE and they will most likely become the standard.

I'd only go for a quad core on my next upgrade if there is some substantial improvement in battery technology or power management. My GNex can barely get through a day at work on a full charge as it is, even with Juice Defender.

More more more. Full desktop mode. Multimonitor phone-powered starcraft, flight-sim with real-time weather and world maps from 74 deg north to 60 south.
Control my laundry machine at the same time.
So yea, this stuff isn't there today, but the 'eh, 2 cores is good enough, 1800mah is good enough, puny local storage is good enough' view is... *yawn* zzzzzz

Who cares how powerful the phone its a expensive mpg player without the sevice. Give me lte or even better a 3g tower here in nowhere eastern nc. When im on the mail route smoke signals are better than cell reception.

Quad core is not going to make a bit of difference because none of the app developers are going to write programs to take advantage of the extra cores. All having one will do is drain the battery faster and that's the last thing you want in an Android phone that's already power hungry.

This year I don't care. If I was buying a phone next year I would want it to be quad. I know as far as intel processors at the beginning the high end core 2 duos were better for games and things because nothing was programmed for more than 2. Now many years later games are being programmed to make use of all of them. I assume the same will happen in the smartphone world but maybe a little faster since it is easier to make apps for phones and I assume people/developers have learned from the PC world how to maker the transition faster.

This reminds me of my old Junior High science teacher who always used to brag about how his Honda CRX-SI had "DUEL QUADS!" This became quite the popular joke among the students whenever bragging about something we'd say "It's got DUAL QUADS!"

I guess that's how it may seem to some. Right now the S4 seems like a great option and I'm more concerned with performance, but I guess I'd be assuming that in the lifespan of the phones that perhaps more QUADS! I mean cores would be more "future proof" as the software develops and is able to take more advantage of them?

You have to go with the quad core.. I have an acer iconia and an EVO 3D.. recently bought an Asus prime and i can definitely tell the difference. Dual core does lag here and there(less in the EVO) and you can tell, it gets tired over time. The quad core beast transformer prime is fast! Really fast and does not let up! You ever pick up an ipad2 and think "wow, this thing is really fast" well I have an ipad2.. and my asus is just as fast, if not.. faster. Quad core wins in the long run and can handle a beating.

You are comparing this years quad to last years dual. I agree, I'd want this years technology.

I got my HTC One S last week, and I'm really enjoying it. The processor is very fast, and everything is incredibly smooth. However, if I were to get an Android tablet, I'd want to get it with a Tegra 3 processor. That's basically just because the games being made to take advantage of advanced onboard GPUs for the processors are currently programmed for Tegra 3. The S4 has technology that Qualcomm purchased from AMD/ATI, but without anything built for it (and no DirectX equivalent for that matter), there's not a lot that will look amazing on the device.

I think there should be a fourth option: "The faster one". I think in this case I would go for the Dual Core version, assuming there is a good gaming support and all "Tegra 3 games only" run well.

Idiots. It was just proved with the AT&T HTC One X that the difference between quad and dual is marginal. Bigger isn't always better. Apple is huge, but the iPhone is stuck in last generations features... HELLO!!!!