Samsung Galaxy S4: octa-core vs. quad-core

Australia, the US and the UK all got the quad-core S4, but is the difference between it and the octa-core really that big?

Nic Healey Senior Editor / Australia
Nic Healey is a Senior Editor with CNET, based in the Australia office. His passions include bourbon, video games and boring strangers with photos of his cat.
Nic Healey
2 min read

Australia, the US and the UK all got the quad-core S4, but is the difference between it and the octa-core really that big?

(Credit: Samsung)

The Samsung Galaxy S4 will be available to Australians on Saturday, 27 April, and as we've noted many times before, it's the quad-core Snapdragon 600 version, as opposed to the Exynos 5 "octa-core".

It's the same model that the US, the UK and much of Europe is getting, along with Singapore.

CNET Australia asked Samsung for a confirmation on exactly which versions went to which countries, but it declined to do so, so we've puzzled together a bit of list with assistance from SamMobile.

Firstly, it's worth noting that there are actually three versions of the Galaxy S4.

There's the GT-I9500, which has the Samsung Exynos 5 Octa running at 1.6GHz, but no LTE/4G modem.

There's the GT-I9505 (the model in Australia), which has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 running at 1.9GHz and an LTE/4G modem.

Then there's the SHV-E300S, which has the Exynos 5 running at 1.8GHz and also an LTE/4G modem. This final model, it seems, is only available in South Korea.

So working from SamMobile's list, the countries that only have the GT-I9505 quad-core available are: Australia, Austria, Baltic States, Belgium/Luxemburg, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Macedonia, Nordic Countries, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Everywhere else is either getting the GT-I9500 or both varieties, except for South Korea, as we said earlier. We stress again that this is not a perfect or absolute list.

The GT-I9505 benchmark results.(Screenshot by Nic Healey/CNET Australia)

So what's the difference? SamMobile benchmarked the GT-I9500 using the AnTuTu benchmarking app. It scored 28,018. We tested our review unit, the GT-I9505, using the same app and got 24,612. For reference, we tried the HTC One as well — 24,261.

Based on these results, it's not unreasonable to think that the SHV-E300S might head out past 30,000.

JK Shin, co-CEO of Samsung, told our US CNET colleagues that the general public probably wouldn't notice or care about the differences between the two processors. He also stated that the difference in models was mostly due to supply — Samsung would not be able to meet demand if it relied purely on its own chip production facilities.

This would seem to suggest that Exynos models might well make their way into more countries down the line, but for Australian — who will soon have three different 4G networks to choose from in some areas — the more interesting model would be the SVH-E300S.

So is speed boost on the Exynos model actually worth it? It's probably correct that the general user won't notice the difference — they're both blindingly fast phones. But the big.LITTLE architecture from ARM that the Exynos chip uses has one big advantage: it's far more power efficient. And like any smartphone these days, users definitely notice when the battery is improved.