The iPhone 6s Is The World’s Fastest Smartphone

A fast phone shouldn't just score well in benchmarks. It should deliver swift, everyday performance, too, whether it's opening a large file, gaming without lag or firing up its camera faster than you can say "cheese." We pitted six of the latest smartphones against each other in eight rounds of competition, and the Apple iPhone 6s came out on top, finishing first in six out of eight real-world tests and synthetic benchmarks.

The Samsung Galaxy S6, our previous winner, is our runner-up, turning in the fastest camera-open time and consistently placing second. The LG G4 dropped to third place. The biggest letdown continues to be the now very dated Nexus 6, which finished sixth overall and dead last in opening our PDF, camera-open and gaming tests. But a new Nexus 6P is on the way and we will update this comparison when it arrives.

The Phones

iPhone 6s: Apple promised the A9 processor in the new iPhone would be significantly faster than it’s predecessor, with up to 70 percent faster CPU performance and 90 percent graphics, which means faster gameplay. And fast it is.

MORE: iPhone 6s Review

Samsung Galaxy S6: Samsung developed its own octa-core Exynos 7420 processor instead of opting for one of Qualcomm's CPUs. The S6 is also one of just two phones in this contest featuring advanced DDR4 memory (the other being the HTC One M9), and it features a faster storage format called UFS 2.0, which promises SSD-like speeds in a phone.

MORE: Samsung Galaxy S6

LG G4: With its Snapdragon 808 CPU, the G4 has difficulty matching the raw power of the S6, but it was the fastest to open its camera and snap a picture, and the second-fastest phone on our video-editing test and the Geekbench 3 performance benchmark.

MORE: LG G4 Review

HTC One M9: The HTC One M9 features Qualcomm's most powerful processor, the Snapdragon 810, and in theory should be able to keep up with the S6. Unfortunately, with the exception of graphics tests, the One M9 disappointed with weak performance.

MORE: HTC One M9 Review

Asus Zenfone 2: The Zenfone 2 is an interesting beast, featuring an Intel Atom Z3580 CPU and unmatched 4GB of RAM for an affordable $299. This phone finished a fairly strong third in our memory benchmark but didn't place better than that in any other test.

MORE: Asus Zenfone 2 Review

Google Nexus 6: As the ambassador for stock Android, the Nexus 6 should demonstrate the height of Google's smartphone experience, and while even its slightly older Snapdragon 805 SoC performed admirably, real-world results were disappointing, due to lethargic camera speeds, average Wi-Fi throughput and poor game performance.

Real-Word Performance Tests

PDF Load Time
To start, we wanted to see how long it would take each phone to open a whopper of a PDF (1.6GB). We measured the time it took to open the PDF (using Adobe Reader on Android and iOS) with a camera capable of recording slow-motion video at 240 fps. The iPhone 6s solidly beat the rest of the competition--and opened the PDF in just 82 milliseconds. Our previous fastest phone, the Galaxy 6, accomplished the same task in a now sluggish-looking 127 ms.

The Nexus 6, the only competitor running stock Lollipop, lagged far behind handsets running skinned versions of Google's OS with a laborious open time of 482 ms--that’s six times slower than the 6s.


Camera Load Time
Because you never know when you need to snap a photo, we wanted to test how long it takes to open the camera with 10 apps running in the background, including such popular programs as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The top three phones separated themselves from the pack, with the LG G4 leading the way with a time of just 52.5 ms. The Galaxy S6 was close behind with 55.5 ms. The 6s landed in third place with 67.2 ms. These speeds were all in stark contrast to the Nexus 6, which sat in dead-last place with 128 ms — more than twice as slow as the G4, S6 and iPhone 6s.


Gaming Performance
Traditional graphics benchmarks don't necessarily provide a good measuring stick for gaming performance — they can be "gamed" by savvy phone manufacturers and often lack real-world context. That's why we used GameBench's new desktop tool to measure the average frame rate over a 3-minute racing session in the graphics-intensive Asphalt 8 game.

The iPhone 6s just barely squeaked past the Samsung Galaxy S6 by managing 31 frames per second to the S6’s 30 frames per second. The poor Google Nexus 6 came in well behind the rest of the pack, managing a tolerable 26 fps.


Benchmark Results

Geekbench 3
First up is Geekbench 3, which evaluates the CPU, RAM, GPU and storage, and combines them into a single score representing overall
system performance. With a mark of 5,283, the Samsung Galaxy S6's octa-core Exynos 7420 SoC and speedy 3GB of DDR4 RAM crushed the competition. That's 20 percent faster than the second-place iPhone 6s, and 50 percent faster than the third-place LG G4.

MORE: Best Smartphones on the Market Now

Basemark OS II System
In Basemark OS II's system test, which performs multiple floating-point and integer calculations, among other computations, the 6s retained its lead. Interestingly, the Asus Zenfone 2 finished ahead of the HTC One M9 in the system test despite costing less than half the price.

Basemark OS II Memory
Next up was the Basemark OS II memory test, which evaluates NAND storage performance by reading and writing files of varying sizes. This tells us the theoretical max speed at which the phone can save and retrieve data from storage, which affects things such as app load times and local media playback.

The iPhone 6s once again finished ahead of the rest of the pack. It was more than 45 percent faster than the next closest phone, the LG G4. The G4 barely edged out the S6, despite the Samsung's more advanced UFS system (Universal Flash Storage), which has the ability to perform simultaneous reading and writing and looks to replace the older eMMC standard used in other phones.

3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited
3DMark’s Ice Storm Unlimited is a gaming benchmark that does much of the work “off screen” and allows us to more accurately test processors and GPUs without worrying about how they power the screens themselves. The iPhone 6s’s A9 processor, again, showed just how fast  it was by speeding past all the other phones for first place.


Wi-Fi Speed
Wi-Fi speeds are one aspect of performance that's often overlooked. A quick glance shows that every phone in our roundup features 802.11 ac capability, but our testing proves that not all Wi-Fi modems are created equal. Using the IxChariot networking benchmark, we sent packets of information to each phone from a blazing-fast
Asus RT-AC87U router and measured the throughput.

From 15 feet away, the 6s delivered top speeds that were 30 percent faster than the next fastest phones, the S6 and HTC One M9. Those two, in turn, were more than 25 percent faster than the rest of the competition.. This can make a big difference in everyday use, whether you're downloading an app or movie, surfing the Web or streaming video.


Bottom Line

Apple’s A9 chip is the real deal. The iPhone 6s took six out of eight rounds, and it often won by an enormous margin. For now, the iPhone 6s is the fastest phone in the world. If you’re willing to live in Apple’s ecosystem, then you’ll enjoy an extraordinarily fast device.

Co-written by Alex Cranz

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23 comments
    Your comment
  • Haha 52.5 ms for opening the camera and taking a picture :-) That's just a twentieth part of a second!!!
    All times are wrong by one decimal power!!
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  • For Starters please fix the mistake in the overall table, the places for the zenfone 2 are wrong for the last 2 tests. Secondly, to get a performance in the middle of the pack in most tests for half the price for the asuAsus is something worth Mentioning in the closing article I think. Makes you rethink about your next smartphone....
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  • You are comparing Samsung's 2015 phone, introduce recently, to Apple's 2014 iPhone 6... And not even the iPhone 6S (which is also last year's phone) that is faster than the 6.

    In a couple of months, Apple will be introducing its 2015 iPhones with the upcoming A9 processor, which will be substantially faster than the 2014 iPhones.

    When that happens, comparing both Apple's and Samsung's 2015 phones, it will be a fair bet that the 2015 iPhones will be MUCH faster than Samsung's 2015 phone.
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  • Quote:
    Haha 52.5 ms for opening the camera and taking a picture :-) That's just a twentieth part of a second!!! All times are wrong by one decimal power!!


    The time actually is 52.5 milliseconds. we slowed it down for the gif, so it's easier to see the differences.
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  • Did you people seriously not heard of iMovie for iOS? Or one of the many 3rd party apps? Also: How is this real world performance, most of the tests were traditional artificial number-crunching or unrealistic 1GB+ PDF open performance. Do this: video the phones jumping between apps, scrolling, etc, the stuff you do daily, then measure dropped frames or input lag (the real deal breakers for perceived performance which is what matters as it's not dependent of having the phones side-by-side), then we'll talk. Also: we're talking about phones, not gaming rigs, maybe throw in some analysis on privacy, security and hardware degradation after a year of use.
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  • 2019381 said:
    Did you people seriously not heard of iMovie for iOS? Or one of the many 3rd party apps? Also: How is this real world performance, most of the tests were traditional artificial number-crunching or unrealistic 1GB+ PDF open performance. Do this: video the phones jumping between apps, scrolling, etc, the stuff you do daily, then measure dropped frames or input lag (the real deal breakers for perceived performance which is what matters as it's not dependent of having the phones side-by-side), then we'll talk. Also: we're talking about phones, not gaming rigs, maybe throw in some analysis on privacy, security and hardware degradation after a year of use.


    The purpose of the article wasn't to determine the best security or the most reliable phone. You also realize that not a single phone has even been out for a year?

    If you're an Apple fan, you should be pleased that despite what looks like a shortcoming in specs, still turned in a respectable performance, including solid PDF load times.

    We did the piece because since there won't be any more phone announcements from now until the fall, it's a good time to do a mid-year review. I'm sure we'll revisit this again in the fall when more phones are released.
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  • Kind of dis-appointed in Toms over this article. After reading your in-depth analysis over the years on processors and video cards I expected better.

    For example, why list only multi-core for Geekbench when the vast majority of software doesn't even utilize multiple cores? Or utilize them enough to keep all of them busy equally such that having those extra cores actually improves performance. At least include the single-core result as well.
    -1
  • Quote:
    You are comparing Samsung's 2015 phone, introduce recently, to Apple's 2014 iPhone 6... And not even the iPhone 6S (which is also last year's phone) that is faster than the 6. In a couple of months, Apple will be introducing its 2015 iPhones with the upcoming A9 processor, which will be substantially faster than the 2014 iPhones. When that happens, comparing both Apple's and Samsung's 2015 phones, it will be a fair bet that the 2015 iPhones will be MUCH faster than Samsung's 2015 phone.



    Can you post the results of your benchmarks on the unreleased iPhone you mention vs. the Galaxy S6? Thanks.
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  • Why not benchmark the iPhone 6 Plus if you are doing benchmarks of the various companies' flagship phones?
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  • Quote:
    Kind of dis-appointed in Toms over this article. After reading your in-depth analysis over the years on processors and video cards I expected better. For example, why list only multi-core for Geekbench when the vast majority of software doesn't even utilize multiple cores? Or utilize them enough to keep all of them busy equally such that having those extra cores actually improves performance. At least include the single-core result as well.

    Quote:
    Kind of dis-appointed in Toms over this article. After reading your in-depth analysis over the years on processors and video cards I expected better. For example, why list only multi-core for Geekbench when the vast majority of software doesn't even utilize multiple cores? Or utilize them enough to keep all of them busy equally such that having those extra cores actually improves performance. At least include the single-core result as well.


    Actually, most apps use multi cores at the same time. At least on Android. Not really surprised by the winner. The One M9 though is a disgrace.
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  • Why no javascript/web performance tests like Kraken, Google Octane or WebXPRT? Would be interesting since the browser is one of my most used applications in a smartphone.
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  • 1717798 said:
    Quote:
    Haha 52.5 ms for opening the camera and taking a picture :-) That's just a twentieth part of a second!!! All times are wrong by one decimal power!!
    The time actually is 52.5 milliseconds. we slowed it down for the gif, so it's easier to see the differences.


    I can't believe that even Samsung says that it takes about 0,7 seconds = 700ms to open the camera!
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  • Real life tests, like opening and reopening several apps, show that the S6 is slower than the HTC M9 and also slower than the iPhone. Those are tests that actually simulate they best the usage that people have of their phone. See the tests done by phonebuff on Youtube.

    Also see Gamebench results, which show that the iPhone 6 runs games faster, even at constant resolution.
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  • Great so called "testing". I have a smartphone for something like 5 years now and I have NEVER opened a 1.6 GB PDF file on it or transcoded a Video. The app opening slow-mo cam gimmick is expectedly uninteresting.

    What you failed to mention though is for example that Android runs game at lower than native resolution or that 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited uses libraries that are heavily optimised to run on Android.

    Here is a good article on this shambles: http://appleinsider.com/articles/15/06/30/samsung-galaxy-s6-fastest-smartphone-if-using-phony-benchmarks-and-ignoring-iphone-6-real-world-performance

    I dont care who "wins" or which smartphone is the best, but at least you should be benchmarking and testing fairly.
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  • Also nice and sneaky to choose the poster frame for the 2 slow-mo videos in such a way that at first glance it looks like the Nexus 6 is not much slower than the rest, even though in the actual video and the chart below it is by far the slowest.
    -1
  • Lastly, on the camera opening thing, the iPhone is actually faster (if you count the time till the image is visible (as you do on the s6), but you measure till pressing the shutter button, which you dont do on the other phones..
    -1
  • DED's minions from AppleInsiders are infesting this forum.
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  • Quote:
    Why no javascript/web performance tests like Kraken, Google Octane or WebXPRT? Would be interesting since the browser is one of my most used applications in a smartphone.


    two problems with that argument. According to recent surveys, games are the most frequently used app on smartphones -- web browser use is far, far behind stuff like social media, messaging in time spent on mobile phones. Second, the performance of web browsing/javascript depends on web browsers and javascript engine, in addition to the underlying hardware. It is likewise wrong to judge the overall performance of your phone by measuring javascript/browser performance.
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  • 2022316 said:
    Great so called "testing". I have a smartphone for something like 5 years now and I have NEVER opened a 1.6 GB PDF file on it or transcoded a Video. The app opening slow-mo cam gimmick is expectedly uninteresting. What you failed to mention though is for example that Android runs game at lower than native resolution or that 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited uses libraries that are heavily optimised to run on Android. Here is a good article on this shambles: http://appleinsider.com/articles/15/06/30/samsung-galaxy-s6-fastest-smartphone-if-using-phony-benchmarks-and-ignoring-iphone-6-real-world-performance I dont care who "wins" or which smartphone is the best, but at least you should be benchmarking and testing fairly.


    This is hilarious. It's one thing to scrutinize benchmark testings/methologies in general, but it's quite entertaining to see Apple fanbois citing a highly biased, inaccurate article from AppleInsider as if they have some legitimate case.

    Take for instance, DED's attack on Tom's Guide's supposedly "cherry picked" GeekBench 3 score:

    "Toms Guide not only selectively picked one number to proclaim Samsung had "crushed the competition" in benchmarks (after failing to even better last year's iPhone in a series of "real world" tests), but also obtained a score for the Galaxy S6 that is wildly higher than those recorded by Geekbench from its other users.

    The site reported a multicore score of 5,283, but Geekbench browser says that phone (Samsung Exynos 7420 Galaxy S6, 1500 MHz, 8 cores) actually scores 3925. That's a tremendous difference in scores from the same benchmark being run on the same phone. It's also completely out of line with the score discrepancy it reported from other vendors."

    The Exynos 7240 runs at 2.1 Ghz (A57) and 1.5 Ghz (A53) and DED, blissfully ignorant -- perhaps willfully -- of the two quad architecture, criticizes TG for jacking up the S6 benchmark figures. TG's figures are measured correctly and are based on A57 quad core, whereas DED somehow managed to fanagle a GeekBench figure based on slower A53 quad core and use it as a basis for his usual misleading lies. DED is quite well known for making stuff up and misrepresenting anything that is not pro-Apple, so I won't even dispute the rest of the article point by point. It's just so laughable that there are folks out there who take DED seriously.
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  • Quote:
    Why no javascript/web performance tests like Kraken, Google Octane or WebXPRT? Would be interesting since the browser is one of my most used applications in a smartphone.


    That's a good point. When we revisit this topic, and you can be sure that we will, expect even more numbers, benchmarks and testing.
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