1. Golfdriver97's Avatar
    So, you are in the market for a new smartphone. This guide won't cover what Samsung, HTC or LG to get, as that would quickly render this guide to be obsolete relatively quickly. Rather, this is a general rule of thumb as to what to look for in a future device. We will look at several different devices released in 2015, and use some of those specs as a reference point.

    Tier 3 phones
    Phone #1: Samsung Galaxy J1
    -OS Android: 4.4.4 KitKat
    -Screen size: 4.3"
    -Processor: Spreadtrum Dual core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7
    -RAM: 512 MB
    -Internal storage: 4 GB
    -Battery: 1850 mAh

    Phone #2: ZTE Blade G
    -OS Android: 4.4.2 KitKat
    -Screen size: 4.0"
    -Processor: Mediatek MT6572m Dual core 1.0 GHz
    -RAM: 512 MB
    -Internal storage: 4 GB
    -Battery: 1200 mAh

    The Breakdown:
    The good:
    -They are relatively up to date, being only 1 major version of Android behind.

    The neutral:
    -Because of older hardware these phones are going to be inexpensive.
    -Android 4.4.x is designed to run on lower RAM. However, that may not mean a smooth or even hiccup free experience.

    The bad:
    -Low internal storage. The smallest version of Android I know of is about 3.2 GB in size. Maybe some OEMs can trim it down, but not by much. So, a consumer is looking at having an available 500 MB to 1 GB of available space, not counting any space that the OS may want to keep free in reserve (roughly 300 MB).
    -The battery. This is another area where a company can cut costs. This may mean the phone might need to be charged a couple times during the day.
    -Since these are low tier phones, chances are the OS version you have when you open the box is it. Highly unlikely there will be any updates even for bug fixes.

    Overall:
    Phones from this tier would be fine, so long as the consumer basically wants the web at their fingertips, be able to text/IM, and make a call. Another use case is acting as an inexpensive emergency backup, or a phone to travel with (much better to lose an inexpensive device than your daily driver).


    Tier 2 phones
    Phone #3: 2015 Moto G
    -OS Android: 5.0 Lollipop
    -Screen size: 4.5"
    -Processor: Snapdragon 410 Quadcore 1.2 GHz Coretex-A53
    -RAM: 1 GB
    -Internal storage: 8 GB
    -Battery: 2390 mAh

    Phone #4: Sony Xperia E4
    -OS Android: 4.4.4 KitKat
    -Screen size: 5.0"
    -Processor: Mediatek MT6582 1.3 GHz Cortex-A7
    -RAM: 1 GB
    -Internal storage: 8 GB
    -Battery: 2300 mAh

    The Breakdown:

    The good:
    -Again, relatively up to date with Android.
    -Screen size jumps up

    The neutral:
    -The battery increase. It can depend on your use case. But for the most part, the battery may or may not be an issue when it comes to the need to recharge midday.
    -Internal storage. 8 GB is much better than 4, with the user having much closer to 50% of the total space for use. However, this can eliminate the use of some games, larger productivity apps, and limit media storage on the device. A deciding factor may be if the device has an external SD card to store music and pictures.

    The Bad:
    -The processors seem to be the spec to suffer. While one almost has a device that can do a lot, they may notice some issues with any processes that are going on. It can vary depending on use case.

    Overall:
    This tier of phones is obviously mid range, but good for any who have to pay full price for a device up front, if say on a prepaid carrier.
    UJ95x, anon8380037 and belodion like this.
    05-05-2015 05:10 PM
  2. Golfdriver97's Avatar
    Continuing:

    The oddball...I didn't know where else to put this one:
    Phone #5: HTC Desire Eye
    -OS Android: 4.4.4 KitKat
    -Screen size: 5.2"
    -Processor: Snapdragon 801 2.3 GHz Krait 400
    -RAM: 2 GB
    -Internal storage: 16 GB
    -Battery: 2400 mAh

    The Breakdown:

    The good:
    -Increased RAM
    -Increased storage size
    -Increased screen size
    -Improved processor

    The Neutral:
    -Android version. This is a mid tier device. There is no guarantee that the OEM will keep the device up to date. This may be another phone that one of 2 things happen: 1. The OS version you have out of the box is it, or 2. It gets updated, but will remain 1 version of Android behind.

    The Bad:
    -The battery size. Not much of an increase here, considering the screen size and processor increases.

    Overall:
    This device may not be a bad choice in some instances. Since carriers are starting to offer payment plans, this can get someone a very nice device for a smaller payment installment. Given the fact that updates are in question, and the user is not much of a spec hound, this could be a good daily driver.

    Tier 1 phones:
    Phone #6: Samsung Galaxy S6
    -OS Android: 5.0.2 Lollipop
    -Screen size: 5.1"
    -Processor: Exynos 7420 Quad core 1.5GHz Cortex-A53/Quad core 2.1 GHz Cortex-A57
    -RAM: 3 GB
    -Internal storage: 32/64/128 GB
    -Battery: 2550 mAh

    Phone #7: HTC One M9
    -OS Android: 5.0 Lollipop
    -Screen size: 5.0"
    -Processor: Snapdragon 810 Quadcore 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53/Quad core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A57
    -RAM: 3 GB
    -Internal storage: 32 GB
    -Battery: 2840 mAh

    Phone #8: LG G4
    -OS Android: 5.1 Lollipop
    -Screen size: 5.5"
    -Processor: Snapdragon 808 Dual core 1.8 GHz Cortex-A57/Quadcore 1.44 GHz Cortex-A53
    -RAM: 3 GB
    -Internal storage: 32 GB
    -Battery: 3000 mAh

    The Breakdown:

    The Good:
    -SoC/Processors are top of the line, or close to it.
    -Increased RAM
    -Current version of Android
    -Will get at least one update, if not two.

    The Neutral:
    -Larger screens have a high impact on battery life. This is partially negated by the larger batteries in these phones.

    The Bad:
    -Price is the first thing that comes to mind. Whether buying outright, or going by payment plans, these are expensive.

    Overall:
    If these are affordable to the consumer, they will easily last 2+ years, making the cost of the device somewhat irrelevant. If you are any kind of heavy user, these devices are probably what you should be looking for.

    My fellow Ambassador UJ95x will break down the processors:
    05-06-2015 08:59 AM
  3. UJ95x's Avatar
    SoC (System on a chip):
    Samsung
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Exynos 7420: 14nm, 4 Cortex A57-2.1GHz/4 Cortex A53-1.5GHz, Mali-T760 MP8 ARMv8-A (64-bit)

    The Samsung Exynos 7420 is Samsung's latest SoC, and has the first 64-bit CPU for Samsung. It can be found in their newest flagships, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. It is also the first 14 nanometer SoC used in any of the major SoC. Being 14nm means that this SoC is a lot more efficient than earlier Samsung processors and even current competitors'. This SoC has 4 reference Cortex A57 cores clocked at 2.1 GHZ for the heavy lifting and 4 Cortex A53 cores clocked at 1.5GHz for everything. This setup is ARM's big.LITTLE configuration intended to keep energy consumption as low as possible when there are no heavy duty tasks being performed. The same configuration can be found on the 808 and 810 SoCs from Qualcomm.
    Next to those 8 CPU cores, we find the Mali-T760 MP8 GPU. In theory, this is currently the most powerful GPU found in any smartphone, even rivaling the Nexus 9 and SHIELD tablet's which both run an NVIDIA K1. However, in practice, the S6 and S6 Edge are a bit slower )in terms of graphical performance) than the M9 and iPhone 6 because of their high resolution displays. These phones are still going to play games extremely well, and you definitely won't be disappointed. Lastly, the 7420 is also based on ARM's v8-A ISA (instruction set architecture), meaning it has 64-bit support and a dedicated hardware encrypt/decrypt engine. For the time being, the 64-bit support isn't a huge deal, but having dedicated encryption and decryption will make a massive difference for those of you who like to (or have to) encrypt your devices. Google initially enforced encryption for all phones shipping with Lollipop, but then decided against it after a few months, presumably because no Android phones at the time (including their flagship Nexus 6) had support for it, meaning performance would be noticeably impacted. But now that phones are starting to come with ARMv8-A SoCs, we may soon see them recommending or enforcing it again.

    Qualcomm
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Snapdragon 810: 20nm, 4 Cortex A57-2.0GHz/4 Cortex A53-1.5GHz, Adreno 430, ARMv8-A (64-bit)

    The Snapdragon 810 is Qualcomm's most recent flagship. It has a very similar configuration to the Exynos 7420, in that it has 4 Cortex A57 and 4 A53 cores. The 4 "big" cores are very slightly lower clocked than the same cores in the Exynos, but the difference is negligible in practice. A couple of differences between this and the 7420 are that it is on a 20nm process rather than 14, and that it has Qualcomm's Adreno GPU instead of the Mali. The former is again, not going to make a noticeable difference. The bigger difference is in the GPU. The Adreno 430 is also QC's flagship. The M9, powered by the A430 has the best graphical performance on any Android phone. If you're a gamer, you might want to consider getting a phone with this GPU over one of Qualcomm's offerings. Lastly, just like Samsung's 7420, the 810 uses the ARMv8-A ISA. As mentioned above, this means that your phone is going to have better performance when encrypted than it would have with an older architecture.

    [NOTE]Now on to the question that everyone is going to ask...yes, it has some thermal issues. On paper it should have been better than the 808, but in real world use it gets throttled more heavily and more often, effectively making it an inferior SoC. Now while it definitely isn't the best of the best, for the most part it should be fine in day to day usage. If you play games or do something similarly intensive, it may be a bit slower and make your device warm, but it definitely isn't a bad processor. I wouldn't let that get between you and a phone you'd otherwise be buying in a heartbeat.[/NOTE]

    Snadragon 808: 20nm, 2 Cortex A57-1.8GHz/4 Cortex A53-1.4 GHz, Adreno 418, ARMv8-A (64-bit)

    The SD808 is the 810's little brother. It is essentially the same SoC, but with 2 fewer "big" (A57) cores. With the 810's performance woes however, the 808 is consistently as good if not better than its big brother. The only other difference is in the GPU. The Adreno 418 is an interesting GPU. On paper, it is actually a bit slower than the Adreno 420 which was included in the SD805. We have yet to see many tests of this GPU since the phone has yet to be released, so I will try to update this section once I see one that does.

    Snapdragon 801: 28nm, 4 Krait 400 2.3GHz, Adreno 330, ARMv7 (32-bit)

    The Snapdragon 801 is a bit old at this point. Phones with this processor came out in Q2 or Q3 last year, meaning they're getting to about a year old now. It's definitely still a capable processor, and aside from lacking 64-bit support (with the improved performance on encrypted devices), you probably won't notice the difference when using your device. The GPU is a bit weaker, but given that the devices that use it are older, they also have a 1080P display instead of 1440P like we're seeing on flagships early this year and even late last year. Overall, it balances out to very similar performance. The only thing to be aware of is that these devices are, like mentioned above, almost a year old, meaning that they may not receive software updates for as long as newer ones. If that doesn't bother you, getting one of these is a great option and they can usually be had for a lot less than phones with newer processors.

    Snapdragon 410: 28nm, 4 Cortex A53-1.2GHz, Adreno 306, ARMv8 (64-bit)

    Rounding out our list of Qualcomm processors, we have the entry level SD410. It was one of the first 64-bit processors available on Android devices, and it is geared to the entry and mid-range level devices on the market. It has 4 cores (same ones as the "little" cores used in the 7420 and 808/810) clocked at lower speeds for better battery life. The Adreno 306 is also an entry level GPU, but it is also powering lower resolution displays that don't require as much "horsepower." The Moto E 2015 has one of these, and it is a very capable device as well, for just a couple hundred bucks. Battery life was excellent and performance overall was fairly smooth.

    Mediatek
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    MT6572M
    : 28nm, 2 Cortex A7-1.0GHz, Mali-400 MP1, ARMv7 (32-bit)

    (The names on these are a bit of a mouthful) The 6572M is one of Mediatek's entry level processors. It only has 2 Cores, as opposed to the 4+ found in all of the aforementioned SoCs, clocked at a just 1GHz. The phones running on this processor are usually not as well known as your Samsungs, LGs or HTCs. They are however, usually a lot cheaper, given that they're targeted at emerging and entry level (potentially people still new to the smartphone world) markets. The GPU is also an entry level one, made by ARM. It's not bad, but I wouldn't expect it to game very well. If you're just a light user, who mainly browses or watches videos, a phone with one of these is not a bad idea. There are lots of options here for the more budget conscious

    MT6582: 28nm, 4 Cortex A7-1.3GHz, Mali-400 MP2, ARMv7 (32-bit)

    Similarly, the 6582 can be found in phones not targeted at the high end. But this one is quite a bit more capable, with 2x as many cores clocked slightly higher. The GPU is also a little bit better, but it also isn't meant to be a gaming machine. This one, like the 6572M above, is 32-bit, meaning encryption may impact the device's performance noticeably, but other than that it should be able to hold its own for the average user. One other thing to note though, is that the software support on these isn't great either. If that's something important to you, maybe one of Qualcomm's entry-mid range offerings is better suited for you.

    Spreadtrum
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------???: 28nm, 2 Cortex A7-1.2GHz, Mali-400 MP?, ARMv7 (32-bit)

    Couldn't find the model number for this one, and finding info on Spreadtrum in general was a bit difficult. This is another entry level processor, but interestingly, this one is in a well known OEM's device. The processing capabilities will be similar to that of the Mediateks mentioned above. Software support however, could go either way, but imagine it will still get at least a good year or so. This phone is also more wallet friendly, and could even be an option as first phone for a child who doesn't need all of the extra features available in more expensive phones.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    All in all, you can tell a lot about a phone with some basic knowledge about the processors powering them. Most are to the point where light usage will make them all fairly even, with just a few being more geared towards heavy duty tasks like recording high definition video or playing high definition games. It's not important to pay much attention to benchmarks and such, but understanding a little about their specifications will help you narrow down the kind of phone you may want or need.
    05-08-2015 11:46 AM
  4. anon8380037's Avatar
    A very, VERY good guide.

    Excellent comparison samples for components.

    Users can determine what trade offs are made with their current or future purchase.

    Well done Golfdriver97 and UJ95x.

    Thank you.

    This thread should get busy with enquiries, and hopefully others can help out.
    Golfdriver97 and UJ95x like this.
    05-12-2015 07:24 AM

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