Snapdragon 835 Benchmarks Tease Galaxy S8's Sheer Power

When Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 835 mobile platform finds its way into new smartphones in the coming weeks — most likely in Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S8 — it's likely to make even the fleetest of mobile processors look like they're standing still.

We've had the chance to benchmark the Snapdragon 835, and this looks like one very fast chip.

Specifically, the Snapdragon 835 blew the doors off the Geekbench 4 general performance test, posting a number that beat our previous mobile processing champ by 16 percent. The Snapdragon 835 also posted top scores for the benchmark tests we use to gauge graphics and web surfing prowess.

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We had the opportunity to test the Snapdragon 835 under the watchful eye of Qualcomm at the company's San Diego headquarters. We used a reference design phone supplied by Qualcomm to run a series of benchmark tests with an eight-core 1.90GHz CPU and 6GB of RAM. That means when the Snapdragon 835 finds its way into a shipping phone, it may not match the numbers we produced under these conditions. Still, the numbers we saw are pretty illustrative as to what you can expect from a Snapdragon 835-powered device.

Take those Geekbench 4 numbers. Our Snapdragon 835 device tallied a 6,478 score on that performance test. That's the best number we've ever seen from a mobile processor, topping the 5,579 score turned in by the Huawei Mate 9, which runs on a Huawei-built Kirin 960 CPU. The Snapdragon 835 also dusted the iPhone 7 Plus and its A10 Fusion chip, which had scored an impressive 5,392 on Geekbench 4.

For some perspective on how the Snapdragon 835's performance compares to previous Qualcomm offerings, the Snapdragon 821-powered Pixel XL scored 4,146 on Geekbench 4, while the Galaxy S7 Edge, which runs on a Snapdragon 820, scored 4,035. In other words, expect phones with the Snapdragon 835 inside to run much faster.

The Geekbench 4 score of the 835 chip is actually neck and neck with the the Intel Core Y CPU in the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 laptop. That machine notched 6,498. And the 835 smokes the Core M-powered MacBook (5,258).

Those numbers reflect the processors' multi-core scores. The Snapdragon 835's single-core score was 2,032, which trails the iPhone 7 Plus's single-core score of 3,419. (Apple's mobile devices traditionally excel at unitasking.) We ran Geekbench 4 on a Galaxy S7 and got a single-core of 1,719 to show you how the Snapdragon 835 compares to previous Qualcomm mobile platforms.

We use 3DMark's Ice Storm Unlimited to gauge graphics performance, and the Snapdragon 835 with its Adreno 540 GPU outpaces the competition here. Qualcomm's reference design phone recorded a 38,518 score in this test, ahead of the iPhone 7 Plus's 36,104 score. It also bested the Pixel XL and Galaxy S7 Edge, powered by last year's Snapdragon chips.

The Snapdragon 835-based device also turned in the best score on the Jetstream 1.1 web browsing test, with a 71.4 score. Huawei's Mate 9 turned in the previous high score on this test, with a 67.8 result, while the Pixel XL's 55.9 score was tops among Snapdragon-powered devices.

Of course, the Snapdragon 835 is more than just a CPU. Qualcomm, in fact, changed the branding of its mobile chips last week to the Snapdragon Mobile Platform to emphasize the power management, image processing, audio, security and connectivity features built into Snapdragon products.

Among the highlights of the Snapdragon 835 will be improved battery life: the 835 is 25 percent more power-efficient than the previous Snapdragon generation, while also being 35 percent smaller in size. The Snapdragon 835 can support both 4K and virtual reality headset content and the 835's new Hexagon DSP and Spectra ISP should help phone makers implement high-end features for the cameras on their devices.

The Snapdragon 835 (left), next to a Snapdragon 820

The Snapdragon 835 (left), next to a Snapdragon 820

Still, it's the benchmark results that will probably be the most eye-opening about what the Snapdragon 835 has to offer. Sony has already said that the mobile platform will power its upcoming Xperia XZ Premium phone, which will ship later this spring. But the Galaxy S8 should be first.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.