We’ve obtained the iPhone 15 Pro Max, Galaxy S24 Ultra and Vivo X100 Pro, all three top dogs of the flagship phone category and equipped with the three most potent smartphone chipsets currently available on the market.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max operates the custom Apple A17 Pro with a hexa-core boosted up to 3.77GHz and showcases a completely new 6-core GPU architecture. The Galaxy S24 Ultra operates the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 (SD8G3) with a traditional big.LITTLE octa-core configuration accelerated up to 3.4GHz with an Adreno 750 GPU that speeds up to 1GHz. The Vivo X100 Pro runs the MediaTek Dimensity 9300 (D9300) chips with an unconventional ‘all big’ octa-core arch accelerated up to 3.25 GHz with 4 large cores and 4 medium cores. Its Mali G720-Immortalis features a 12-core configuration.
As expected, we wanted to compare their performance in a quick-fire head-to-head test of their CPUs and GPUs under the same conditions after getting a hold of these devices and chips. To do this, we measured the room’s ambient temperature and the temperature of each device on its rear using an infrared heat sensing gun before and after each run. All devices were evaluated under identical ambient temperature and at the same time, offering us a good idea of thermal management, providing additional context to their respective scores. This approach ensures a fairer way of comparing performance.
We used Geekbench 6 to test the CPUs, which has a revised workload of real-world tasks that mobile users increasingly run on their devices, including machine learning tasks related to photography and language models. To evaluate the GPU, we exposed them to the Wild Life Extreme Stress Test, which executes a graphics intensive workload looped over a 20-minute period, recording the best loop score, and the lowest as the chip begins to heat up and throttle. This test provides insight into the device’s thermal management as well as each chip’s sustained performance.
Assessing the chips’ performance in Geekbench 6, the table reveals that the iPhone’s A17 Pro chip has a substantial 30+% lead in single-core performance over both the Galaxy’s SD8G3 and the Vivo’s D9300. This is widely considered the most crucial metric as most mobile apps still utilize only a single core. However, for more complex tasks, the multi-core performance becomes more important, particularly for machine learning tasks in photo apps or gaming. In this case, the D9300 is essentially on par with the A17 Pro while the SD8G3 lags by around just 7%.
This would have been unprecedented only a year or two ago, suggesting that the performance gap between Apple’s esteemed chips and the competition is decreasing considerably. Early benchmarks for the SD8G4 and D9400 expected later this year are also very promising, with Apple’s performance crown appearing to be at risk unless it is developing something remarkable with the A18 Pro in response. In terms of thermal performance during Geekbench 6, they all remained well under control for all the chipsets, although the D9300 got slightly warmer – considering that Geekbench 6 is not a stress test.
3D Mark Wild Life Extreme Stress Test:
The 3D Mark Wild Life Extreme Stress Test was conducted in the same room, at the same time, with the same ambient temperature of 26-degrees Celsius (78.8 F) and screen brightness set to 50%. It reveals, once again, that Apple has a serious fight on its hands.
The SD8G3 and D9300 both outperform the A17 Pro by a significant margin in peak performance, although the iPhone’s lowest boot loop score was the highest. The iPhone’s overall frame rate range was also on par with the SD8G3. Importantly, the iPhone’s stability was also the highest at 61.4%, around 10% higher than the other two chips. This is potentially a benefit of its TSMC 3nm fabrication and despite the fact that it only leans on basic graphite sheeting for a thermal solution. It also suggests that the overheating issues faced by the iPhone 15 Pro at launch have finally been banished.
Externally, the Vivo/D9300 ran hottest at 44-degrees Celsius (111.2 F), while both the SD8G3 and A17 Pro stayed just below 40-degrees Celsius (104 F). While the Vivo X100 Pro has a vapor chamber, Samsung has fitted the Galaxy S24 Ultra with a vapor chamber that is 92% larger than it fitted to the S23 Ultra. The SD8G3 drew slightly more power, losing 9% of its charge over the 20m test, with the A17 Pro and D9300 dropping just 7% of their charge each.
All of these phones will power through the tasks for power users and regular users alike. Any of these phones will also offer excellent mobile gaming performance as well, with little to separate them overall. The A17 Pro takes the overall CPU performance crown, while the SD8G3 and D9300 share the honors on the GPU side in terms of outright performance.
As we recently highlighted exclusively, however, the A17 Pro also benefits from AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution upscaling, an open source technology that Apple has built into its MetalFX framework. Even though both the SD8G3 and D9300 may have more graphics horsepower, the A17 Pro will be able to punch above its weight in demanding gaming titles like Resident Evil Village and Death Stranding that have recently made it to the platform as iOS exclusives at this time.
What these tests also demonstrate is that, when combined with their NPUs for machine learning acceleration, the CPU and GPU performance of these chips working in unison will be able to handle more AI tasks on-device than say chips like the Tensor G3, which have to offload many of the Pixel 8 Pro’s latest generative AI tasks to the cloud for processing. This reduces privacy, increases latency, and drains more battery, which is a real benefit of offering the powerhouse performance that all these smartphones and their chips deliver. Benchmarks matter now more than ever before.
*Note: While we did run the Geekbench ML test, which targets the NPU, we weren’t confident in the results it was producing for the SD8G3, and will contact Primate Labs to better understand what might be going on before publishing them.