We’re already halfway through March, which means we’ve received the first devices with the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset for testing. It’s an interesting story this year as Qualcomm tries to catch up to Apple Silicon’s raw power and continues to maintain the lead over Google in benchmarks.
If you’ve paid attention to what’s going on with the Galaxy S23 series, you’ll know that there are technically two Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 variants on the market. There’s the standard one found in mobiles like the OnePlus 11, but then Samsung managed to score a special overclocked version dubbed Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy phones.
Now that we’ve had a handful of Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 phones for testing, we’ve got enough data to say definitively how the new chip that does or will power many of the best Android phones will perform over its competition and predecessor(s).
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 versus the competition
We run every phone through a bunch of benchmarks to measure performance, so we’ll start with the CPU itself before looking at the GPU.
|Row 0 – cell 0||CPU||Geekbench 5 (single-core / multi-core)||Geekbench 6 (single-core / multi-core)|
|Galaxy S23||Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for the Galaxy device||1522/4876||1881/4972|
|OnePlus 11||Snapdragon 8 Gen 2||1166/4962||1536/5035|
|Red Magic 8 Pro||Snapdragon 8 Gen 2||1496/5217||2020/5621|
|Pixel 7 Pro||G2 tensor||1060/3046||Unavailable|
|iPhone 14 Pro Max||A16 Bionic||1882/53333||Unavailable|
|iPhone 14||A15 Bionic||1727/4553||Unavailable|
|Zenfone 9||Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen1||1190/4061||Unavailable|
|Galaxy S22||Snapdragon 8 of the first generation||1204/3348||Unavailable|
Geekbench 6 is a very recent test, so most of the devices in our lab haven’t run through it yet. But Geekbench 5 is where we can really look at things across the slides. Among the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 phones, there is a wide gap in both single-core and multi-core results.
For example, the Galaxy S23’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 beats the standard version in single-core performance, largely in the case of the OnePlus 11. But the RedMagic 8 Pro, a gaming phone with a powerful cooling system, wins in multi-core, and comes dangerously close. from iPhone 14 Pro Max.
I found it interesting that Qualcomm is finally overtaking Apple, at least in a two-year-old segment. (A15 Bionic delegated to the iPhone 13 and iPhone series repurposes the iPhone 14 Pro’s cutting-edge chip.)
Of all the options mentioned above, the Pixel 7 Pro stands out as the weakest. The Tensor G2 system on a chip isn’t meant to win any performance crowns, as Google is focusing on AI and machine learning. And to be fair, the latest Pixel works in wraps around other phones for its AI features.
I’ve included some of the 2022 flagships here to show you generational performance, both with the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 and Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. There are some surprisingly obvious improvements here.
|Row 0 – cell 0||CPU||Adobe Premiere Rush (minutes:seconds)|
|Galaxy S23||Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for the Galaxy device||0:39|
|OnePlus 11||Snapdragon 8 Gen 2||1:11|
|Red Magic 8 Pro||Snapdragon 8 Gen 2||Unavailable|
|Pixel 7 Pro||G2 tensor||0:47|
|iPhone 14 Pro Max||A16 Bionic||0:30|
|iPhone 14||A15 Bionic||0:28|
|Zenfone 9||Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen1||Unavailable|
|Galaxy S22||Snapdragon 8 of the first generation||0:47|
Geekbench’s tests are all well and good, but they don’t offer much value in the real world. The results are only good for comparing the phones to each other, but what do these actually mean?
That’s why we run Adobe Premiere Rush transcoding testing as a way to measure real-world performance. It’s a good test as the phone should convert a 4K video file to 1080p as fast as it can.
Apple still leads the pack with the iPhone 14 turning in the fastest result of 28 seconds. The iPhone 14 Pro Max falls right behind it at 30 seconds, which is effectively a negligible difference.
The OnePlus 11 is a departure from the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 phones, but that was the case with last year’s OnePlus 10 Pro as well. The app won’t run on the RedMagic 8 Pro or Zenfone 9, so we can’t include those results here.
However, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is a significant improvement over the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, with the Galaxy S22 taking 47 seconds to complete the test. The Pixel 7 Pro achieved the exact same result.
So CPU performance has seen a significant improvement across the board, and even comes close to Apple in Geekbench, but what about the GPU?
|Row 0 – cell 0||CPU||3DMark Wild Life (FPS)||3DMark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited (FPS)|
|Galaxy S23||Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for the Galaxy device||87||23|
|OnePlus 11||Snapdragon 8 Gen 2||84||22|
|Red Magic 8 Pro||Snapdragon 8 Gen 2||84||22|
|Pixel 7 Pro||G2 tensor||40||11|
|iPhone 14 Pro Max||A16 Bionic||74||20|
|iPhone 14||A15 Bionic||69||18|
|Zenfone 9||Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen1||58||14|
|Galaxy S22||Snapdragon 8 of the first generation||59||15|
We put each phone through the more difficult 3DMark Wild Life Unlimited and Wild Life Extreme Unlimited tests for the GPUs. This is where things get really interesting, because Samsung is clearly ahead of everything else, even the iPhone 14 Pro Max. It achieved a maximum of 87 fps in Unlimited, which is the best we’ve ever seen from a smartphone. Even its result of 23fps in Extreme Unlimited is impressive, even if it’s a little better than other machines.
The OnePlus 11 and RedMagic 8 Pro aren’t far behind at 84fps. The iPhone 14 Pro Max lagged a bit at 74fps, though it’s unlikely that a human would notice that difference. But this means that the Galaxy S23 is the best gaming phone on the market right now. Meanwhile, the Pixel 7 Pro is not.
Even better, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 shows an amazing improvement over both the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 and Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. I like this generational jump, which is usually unheard of.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy: Does it make a difference?
Based on these findings, is Samsung right to overclock its Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor?
For reference, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for the Galaxy has a base clock speed of 3.36GHz versus the 3.3GHz of the regular Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. This seems to be paying off in the graphics department in particular, albeit by a margin that no human would be able to comprehend without gauges.
Interestingly, the RedMagic 8 Pro’s results in Geekbench show that keeping the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 cool allows it to boost higher for longer without once again throttling for heat.
In fact, the OnePlus 11 and RedMagic 8 Pro both outperform the Galaxy S23 in CPU performance on Geekbench, in both the 5 and 6 versions. This leads me to believe that the cooling systems, whether passive or active, in either phone negate the Galaxy’s advantage. S23’s 160MHz.
However, the Galaxy S23’s gaming leadership should not be ignored. It may be small, but it technically gives the S23 series the crown as gaming phone kings.
So back to my original question: Is Samsung’s hype over the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for the Galaxy worth anything? As anticlimactic as hearing it may be, it depends.
If gaming is your primary metric, then yes. If you’re not into gaming, that’s moot. Save some money and get the OnePlus 11 ($699) for equal, if not better, CPU performance — outside of OnePlus’ odd compatibility with the Adobe Premiere Rush standard.
The iPhone 14 Pro Max is still the CPU king, however, most people don’t need all that raw horsepower.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 overview
After years of falling behind, Qualcomm has finally closed the gap with Apple Silicon. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is the best gaming chip available at the time of writing, even if the A16 Bionic still takes the lead in Geekbench and 4K-1080p video transcoding.
This is the first year in a long time that I can say that you won’t notice much difference between a Snapdragon Android phone and an iPhone. The Pixel 7 Pro and Tensor G2 are another story, but I’ve already made it clear that they’re not meant to be the fastest chipset available.
Basically, you can buy any Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 powered phone this year and be confident that you have the most power Android has ever seen in a phone. We still have to see what the A17 Bionic will do, but I suspect Apple will focus on the GPU.
2023 is already starting to look like a great year for smartphone performance. If Qualcomm releases the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 2, things could get even more interesting.
The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 certainly impressed me, much more than I expected, even more so as this article showcased. I hope to see Qualcomm continue to catch up to Apple, and it just might happen.