We benchmarked the Snapdragon 845 — here's why none of the numbers matter

When Qualcomm launches a new processor (ahem, "mobile platform"), we take notice. The new Snapdragon 845 will be the go-to choice in just about every high-end phone in 2018 (and even into early 2019), just like the Snapdragon 835, 821 and 820 were previously.

The nerds among us use the opportunity of a new chip release to try and quantify just how much "better" it is, in an attempt to determine what to expect in terms of performance when devices launch with the processor. And that means running benchmarks. I had the opportunity to use a Qualcomm Reference Device running a Snapdragon 845, and put it through a full slate of benchmarks over the course of a couple hours. I saw lots of big numbers, and now I can tell you why none of them matter.

Alright, so the benchmarks. You'll see the 12 I ran here, ranging through several different types that push the CPU, GPU, and memory. The top set are on-device apps, while the last four are web browser-based. As a whole, they do a pretty good job of showing how the Snapdragon 845, running in ideal conditions on a reference device with no other software, can perform. For a couple extra data points, this reference device has a 2560x1440 resolution LCD and 6GB of RAM. Here are my benchmark results:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
BenchmarkResult
AnTuTuTotal: 259180
CPU: 87938
GPU: 107103
UX: 56409
MEM: 7730
GeekbenchSingle core: 2481
Multicore: 8452
GFXBench 4.0 1080 Manhattan 3.161 fps
GFXBench 4.0 1080 Manhattan 3.084 fps
GFXBench 4.0 T-Rex151 fps
GFXBench 4.0 Car Chase35 fps
3DMark Slingshot - Unlimited ES 3.1Total: 4871
Graphics test 1: 32.1 fps
Graphics test 2: 18.9 fps
3DMark Slingshot - Unlimited ES 3.0Total: 5930
Graphics test 1: 42.7 fps
Graphics test 2: 26.9 fps
Kraken (Chrome)2422 (lower is better)
Octane (Chrome)16086
Sunspider (Chrome)448.5 (lower is better)
Jetstream (Chrome)85.97

I'm intentionally not showing you benchmarks from other devices here for comparison. If you're someone who pays attention to benchmarks you'll know all of these tests, what the numbers mean and how they rank compared to other processors. I'm also not providing reference numbers because none of these numbers really matters or can be translated into being "good" or "bad" for your actual experience of using a phone with a Snapdragon 845 in it.

Qualcomm, which provided the reference device for benchmarking in the first place, even agrees with me.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 845

The nomenclature of calling these "processors" will live on for some time, but you start to understand why Qualcomm wants to shift its branding to "Snapdragon 845 mobile platform" when you consider everything this SoC offers beyond just a CPU. The Snapdragon 845, of course, has an octa-core CPU and a powerful GPU — but it also has a secure processing unit, a super-advanced LTE modem, an image signal processor, two different audio subsystems and its own memory. This isn't just a "processor" anymore, and that's exactly why even Qualcomm is starting to care less and less about these benchmark numbers.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 845: Everything you need to know

Through that whole slate of benchmarks that I did, they at best covered the performance of the CPU, GPU, and on-board memory. Some only touched the CPU and GPU. Others were reliant on the applications themselves utilizing the SoC in the right way. None of them was running in a real-world environment on a phone with extra software and user-generated data. And that's why these benchmarks no longer give a realistic view of what the Snapdragon 845 will offer consumers when they go to buy a Galaxy S9 or any other flagship in 2018.

Snapdragon 845 Reference Device

The true evaluation of the Snapdragon 845 will come when we get our hands on retail devices.

The true evaluation of the Snapdragon 845 will come when we get our hands on retail devices that use it — presumably, the Galaxy S9 will be the first. Then we'll see how well the manufacturer's software has been optimized for it, how the ISP processes image data, how fast the LTE data speeds are in the real world, and perhaps most importantly how little power the Snapdragon 845 uses in the process. Qualcomm's own research shows that consumers put lots of value on battery life, and making its chips more efficient while keeping the same or higher performance has been a massive emphasis in the last few generations because of it.

So little of the daily experience of using a modern smartphone is defined by how well that phone can perform a benchmark, and hearing one of the leading companies making these chips admit it tells you all you need to know. Seeing a reference device and getting to experience the Snapdragon 845 before anyone in public has an opportunity to is amazing, particularly for a smartphone nerd like myself. But seeing it get to work making hundreds of millions of phones in the next year do everything regular people want (and more) is far more exciting.

Based on everything I've learned about the Snapdragon 845 and Qualcomm's commitment to creating great chips, it's well-equipped to do just that.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

58 Comments
  • Aight guys, not related to the article but the app is broken. There's no pictures to see, just a small placeholder and there's a huge void of white between the end of the article and the end of the page. Got to go in the mobile website to read your articles now
  • Working fine on my Tab 4+
  • It's fine on my Pixel XL. Maybe something else is happening on your device that can cause this problem?
  • The images are working fine for me, but I constantly get the white void at the end of the page... OnePlus 5 here...
  • Looks like the image problem is related to my device. I carry the LG G6 and I'll try clearing the cache and see how it goes
  • My G6 works fine
  • That's really odd that my G6 acts this way. Despite trying everything I still have the same problem
  • I did try both clearing the cache and deleting the data of the app, yet still get no pictures in any articles
  • Images are working fine on my Pixel XL2
  • Apps can have different problems on different devices though.
  • I see. I have tried everything, even uninstalling and reinstalling but still the same problem is occuring.
  • I have the same issue. It happened a few updates ago. Huge black spaces on all of the post especially at the end I can scroll for days and just see black space before I got the bottom.
  • You're not alone. I too have a "void" at the bottom of the article & no images in the article, just placeholders.
  • I agree... the network you are on, & location on that network, is far more impactful on speed than phone specs. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 is coming to Samsung phones on North American carriers because it supports CDMA... CDMA is older network technology. Bell Canada shut down and completely ended CDMA use in the provinces of Alberta & British Columbia June 30, 3017.... But CDMA is still a thing in America, so Samsung ships Qualcomm chipped phones to Canada. I'd rather have the Samsung Exynos 9 series..... Rest of the world , give or take, gets Exynos... Oh, the Exynos CPU is up to 2.9 GHz. The Exynos 9 will do 4K video up to 120 frames per second. Faster downlink and uplink speed of up to 1.2Gbps and 200Mbps respectively. (Qualcomm Snapdragon is close... 1.2GBps and a little less 150Mbps ) Etc, etc... For all the details regarding improved video quality, etc. Google Samsung Exynos 9 and chose the Samsung link if you don't trust me, or click this Samsung link:
    https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https2F2Flink... Be mindful the technology is rapidly improving. Qualcomm is talking about it's 5G modem and chip work on its web site.
  • Samsung uses Qualcomm in the US due to licensing issues: https://www.androidcentral.com/qualcomm-licensing-blocked-samsung-sellin...
  • "Most regions around the world will get Samsung's Exynos 8895, while regions that require a CDMA modem, such as the US and China, will get Qualcomm's Snapdragon." - Matt Humrick, July, 2017 reporting on Samsung Galaxy S8 & S8+. Samsung moved its release date on the S9 models to February to maximize value of its deal with Qualcomm... Samsung's deal gave it priority for the supply of 845 chips... The February release ensures Samsung is first to market with the Snapdragon 845 processor. The Samsung Qualcomm agreement mattered years earlier when CDMA was widely used, but as I wrote, it's being phased out all over North America.
  • So what about the S6?
  • They chose all-Exynos for the S6 and Note5 because Qualcomm's offerings at the time were bad enough for Samsung to decide on spending the extra on having a CDMA modem from Qualcomm than the entire Snapdragon SoC which is often cheaper than just the modem
  • LOL .. Article: "Specs don't matter"
    Response " look at these Exynos 9 series specs!" :-)
  • If none of the benchmarks matter, then why waste your time performing them and posting the results? Wouldn't your time be better spent on something else?
  • Because his competition on another blog beat him to it... Hint... the blog has the same first two letters as Alcoholics Anonymous...
  • I don't think it was posted because Android Authority (you can say that, by the way) posted it first, just because they know it'll get lots of clicks. Clicks mean doll hairs.
  • Yah probably click bait
  • The good folks at Android Authority were in the same room as me benchmarking the Snapdragon 845 Reference Device. Nobody "beat" anyone.
  • Exactly right. That’s probably what AMD was saying all those years before Ryzen
  • It's to help prove my point. Some very small % of people want to see benchmarks, so we provide those numbers. But showing these big numbers without the context of comparison to other phones is done on purpose to show that they don't really mean anything anymore.
  • What leaving out the context of comparison meant to me was that I had to go somewhere else to see it because context matters. A bunch of nerds want to see the numbers. I would think that most daily visitors to this site are a bunch of nerds. Me, being a nerd, want to see the improvements vs the last generation. Has Qualcomm done this before? Do you have the SD835 reference device numbers?
  • wow seems interesting
  • These chips have been plenty fast enough for the last few years. It's the power consumption that interests me.
  • Just another "cutting edge" processor that will inevitably be paired to ridiculously monstrous screens to get maybe 5 hours SOT on a charge. I can hear all the gotta have the latest and greatest buyers already complaining.
  • If these numbers were better than Apple's processors, would they matter then?
  • From my perspective, no. I don't give a damn about benchmarks on Apple's great SoC either.
  • Most people ignore that the numbers are not cross-platform comparable. It should have been obvious anyways when Apple gleefully embraced Geekbench3 results and claimed the A11 Bionic was almost 200% faster... then it gets beat right out the box by the U11, then the Note 8, then OnePlus, then Pixel. In reality, the A11 is only about 10% faster than the A10, and I know that because we have both of them.
  • Well, it didn't help that iOS 11 turned out to be quite the mess it was. But I read up on the A11's overall design and it's pretty interesting. When that SoC is allowed to spread its wings in actual applications and not benchmarks, it's really peppy. My sister's iPhone 8 Plus and my Galaxy Note8 are roughly equal when using them normally, though both have their share of hiccups. But when the former spreads its wings, man it's quite the screamer. I'm interested in how the Exynos 9810 performs, especially since they seem to have taken cues from Apple on its die design.
  • I'm not sure what basis you have for suggesting iOS 11 is a mess. It's very solid. I suppose that's what the hard core Android zealots need to tell themselves to sleep at night.
  • You can find so many instances of people have stability issues with ios 11. My GF has a brand new iPhone 8 and there are times that it runs terribly. I feel like Apple wouldn't be focusing on stability and bugs in ios 12 if all was well with ios. Hilarious you are throwing around crap like Android zealots when you are intentionally ignoring widespread issues with your OS of choice.
  • It's pretty clear that's exactly the point. On one hand, an SoC is a lot more than just the CPU and GPU these days. On the other hand, we buy new phones for performance reasons primarily, so to suggest performance doesn't matter is silly. To suggest benchmarks are irrelevant is silly. The fact of the matter is that Qualcomm is now hopelessly behind Apple, with no chance of catching up. In the past, Android phones added a bunch of extra cores in order to compensate for their really bad single core performance. At least they would look good in benchmarks, right? The problem is, once Apple started doing the same and it became clear that 6 cores on an Apple chip is still faster than 8 cores on a Qualcomm chip, now, we say that performance doesn't matter. Again, to be clear, I think things like the quality of the ISP, the quality of the Neural Engine (oh, wait, Qualcomm doesn't have one) and the quality of the modem, etc. all matter as well. However, to suggest that benchmarks don't matter is a bit disingenuous.
  • Ive read the article and feel as if ive learned nothing at all about the new platform. Notice my use of the p word. No objective assessment at all. Im not being critical of the writer as I always enjoy his pieces but maybe even a "hey this things a beast" would have been enlightening.
  • My whole point of writing this was that we don't really know what the processor can do until it's in a production-ready phone. Right now, all we can do is benchmark it on a reference device, which I've explained isn't a great measurement of the processor's capabilities anyway. We have the technical layout of all the things the 845 can do, we just don't know how they'll all work out in a real device yet.
  • "Then we'll see how well the manufacturer's software has been optimized for it, how the ISP processes image data, how fast the LTE data speeds are in the real world, and perhaps most importantly how little power the Snapdragon 845 uses in the process." This, benchmarks are fun to talk about in the end this is what I care about in a phone and software optimization is where its at. The 845 should be great for data speeds, photos and battery life if the manufacturers don't screw it up because honestly, I don't do a ton of gaming on my phone and the 821 in my G6 runs everything just fine. I want the data speeds, connectivity, better pictures and battery life improvements.
  • What a totally pointless article. The benchmark numbers **DO** matter!! Until Qualcomm can start performing like Apple's processors, everything they do here is mediocre. DON'T ACCEPT ANYTHING LESS
  • Are you sure that the numbers don't matter because apps, such as games, have stagnated? I mean, as powerful as these phones are today, apps like Shadow Gun from the year 2011, I think, outclass or can handily compete with anything on the market today. 2011 was seven years ago.
  • Yeah, the specs don't matter because it is far slower than the iPhone and even Samsung's Exynos is faster. The Snapdragon is a sub-par processor compared to the others.
  • Lol. Not even close buddy. I've loved watching iPhone x / 8 + with the A11 getting smoked by SD 835 handsets like the OnePlus 5T and Note 8 in many side-by-side app loading/ memory management speed tests on YouTube as of late. Truth of the matter is Android just feels like the faster of the two in real world usage as well. Has for almost 2 years now
  • The problem is, you don't even know what you're comparing. Loading apps is a measure of storage speed and even there the iPhone wins the first pass. Only in a ridiculous test where you do nothing but repeatedly load the same dozen or so apps over and over would the OnePlus 5T be faster. Why? Because it has more memory and the apps were already loaded after the first pass. That's not exactly an example of real world usage. What's more, when you actually run the apps, especially any app that has any real processing requirements, the iPhone X smokes ALL Android phones.
  • "Not even close buddy" - yeah, that is what I said, the Snapdragon processor is not even close when compared to the Exynos processor. The Snapdragon is much slower, many other websites reporting same thing. Here is just one: https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2018/02/13/samsung-galaxy-s9-sp...
  • It is 2018. Why aren't reference devices bezel less yet?
    /s
  • I can't wait to see how this 845 performs running Windows 10 (Arm) variant. Love my S8, but getting a Surface tablet with 15+ hrs of battery life, LTE, etc. would be killer.
  • And you'll probably feel very little of it's real-world performance benefits. I'm more interested in metrics like power consumption and modem performance. Phones are getting more powerful but it's getting harder to notice meaningful gains in real world performance unless you look at specific metrics. Don't get me wrong, I love progress as much as any other. I just think it's just harder to see much gains these days, unlike the SD600 -> SD800 days. On a side note, those benchmarks are in line with what I expected. Wondering how others stack up like the Exynos 9810. Read up on how the chip is designed and it's mighty interesting
  • Benchmarks do matter, and the 845 sounds impressive on paper but I hate to say it Apple is quite ahead right now, Qualcomm is holding Android back because Android already destroys iOS as platform and while performance has caught up with Apple in real world usage, performance wise, unfortunately Apple still wins, but only just.
  • How do you feel Android "destroys iOS as a platform"? No offense, but claims like this are simply nonsense and don't hold up. I have no issue with your personal preference. However, you can objectively measure things in an ecosystem or platform such as quality of the OS, quality of the apps, amount of malware on a platform, how many apps are riddled with ads, which platform gets the A-list titles first, etc, etc. Suffice to say, Android doesn't destroy iOS on such things.
  • Another obnoxious assumption about what we (should) want... I guess I'm going to xda and Android Authority for the numbers that don't matter and reference to other phones... that don't matter either, thanks. Oh look, they have what I want :)
  • It's not an assumption, it's the reality, I can't stand Apple and their restrictions anymore that's why I switched to Android once and for all, but you can't just bury your head in the sand l, the unfortunate reality is that Qualcomm are behind Apple in raw CPU power, and the A11 Bionic chip is the most powerful chip available, it's a shame it's wasted on a rotten platform on iOS.
  • Exactly it's the most powerful at doing nothing. I'll take better ram management over benchmarks any day. One plus 5 and the Note 8 are fast with the best ram management out of any device now.
  • Better ram management? You might want to ask why Android phones need so much more memory to do the same thing. Hint: Try learning about differences in approaches like garbage collection vs. automatic reference counting, etc. before commenting again on memory management. Also, in terms of performance, you might want to ask yourself why you can't do simple things on your Android phones like preview a bokeh effect in real time when in portrait mode like you can on the iPhone. Hint: Android phones lack the processing power for such things.
  • Very curious how this platform will work in the Motorola line. I have no concern about raw benchmarks. I am curious about real-world, actual, in the wild, battery life. Also, to Andrew, any idea if GPS chips will be integrated in the future or will they continue to be a standalone chip? I'm more concerned about what progress is being made in regards to their accuracy and power consumption as well. Thanks.
  • The Exenos chips run circles around this. It to mention the Apple chips. I'm not impressed
  • Sorry, but benchmarks DO matter as they're the only way to objectively evaluate a phone's performance without buying or spending a week with it.