Is HTC's single core faster than dual core?

One of the big shifts in smartphones this year has been towards dual-core processors, with quad-core chipsets beginning to emerge on the horizon. But does dual core actual mean twice as fast?

One of the big shifts in smartphones this year has been towards dual-core processors, with quad-core chipsets beginning to emerge on the horizon. But does dual core actual mean twice as fast?

The Sensation XL and XE showing BrowserMark benchmark results. (Credit: CBSi)

We've been testing both the HTC Sensation XE and XL this week, with the smaller-screened XE packing a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, and the larger XL using a single-core 1.5GHz processor. The XE is being dubbed as the fastest smartphone in the market at this time, outpacing the Samsung Galaxy S II and the HTC Evo 3D, both with dual-core 1.2GHz CPUs. This is exciting news for any smartphone specs junkie, but, remarkably, it's the XL that's showing us performance worthy of getting excited over.

As a part of our standard testing of Android smartphones, we run a collection of benchmarks available online and on the Android Market. There are a number of issues with relying on these benchmarks for irrefutable performance data, but we do find that there is a strong connection between good benchmark results and good everyday application performance.

We usually start with a Rightware BrowserMark test, which runs a series of performance tests through the browser on a device, testing JavaScript execution, some Flash animation playback and several database read and write speed tests. Typically, dual-core phones have this year been achieving scores in the range of about 50,000, with the Galaxy S II previously holding the crown with a score of 63,266. Dual-core tablets running iOS and Android Honeycomb have been achieving scores in the range of 80,000.

As you can see in the photo above, the Sensation XL has blown past its dual-core competition in this test, consistently gaining a score in excess of 80,000; 30 per cent faster than the score that the Sensation XL manages with its dual-core processor.

Both handsets displaying Vellamo benchmark results. (Credit: CBSi)

In a different test, the Vellamo benchmark created by the Qualcomm Innovation Centre, the XE and XL finish with a nearly identical score. This test also runs a bunch of web-based stress tests, including a full SunSpider test and the V8 Benchmark. In comparison, the Galaxy S II scored 904, and the new Motorola Razr scored 775.

There is one key difference between these HTC handsets, which may play a factor in these results, although it's hard to gauge the effect that this might have. Though the XL has the less-impressive processing specs, it has a newer version of both the Android OS (2.3.5) and the HTC Sense UI (3.5). Both of these key pieces of software could include a significant update to the browser software on the handset, and while this creates an uneven playing field to test on, it does suggest that customers choosing the XL over the XE, or any other dual-core phone, may not be disadvantaged in performance as much as the difference between single- and dual-core processors might suggest. In fact, you may actually get your hands on the faster phone.

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Phones
About the author

Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies.

 

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