The iPhone 7 Is the Fastest Phone Ever

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The iPhone 7's processor looks like the fastest smartphone chip on the market today. It will deliver double the performance of the iPhone 6 from two years ago, according to benchmarks we ran on the new phones.

Apple says its quad-core A10 processor, running at 2.33GHz in the new iPhones, has 40 percent better CPU performance and 50 percent better graphics performance when compared to last year's A9, which is in the iPhone 6s and iPhone SE. The A9 is about on par with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor used in top Android smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S7 and HTC 10.

So we ran some benchmarks. We ran the Geekbench benchmark for CPU performance and the GFXBench and 3DMark benchmarks for GPU peformance. (While we also like to run the Antutu CPU benchmark on everything, it won't launch on the new iPhones.) In our benchmark tests, we found a 32 percent improvement in CPU speed and an improvement between 30 and 56 percent on the graphics benchmarks, depending on which benchmark we used. The A10 showed a more dramatic difference on the GFXBench suite than on the 3DMark suite.

When compared to the Galaxy S7, the S7 is 40 percent faster on multi-core performance and about twice as fast on single-core performance. Apple has typically focused on having fewer, faster processor cores, saying that most applications only use one or two cores at a time. Qualcomm and other chipmakers have loaded on more cores for flexibility and power savings.

Whether or not applications use all the cores usually comes down to how well the chip's software handles distributing the load. In Apple's case, distribution is all done by the A10 itself, which means all applications effectively become multicore-aware automatically.

The really big performance improvements, though, were when you look at the iPhone 7 versus the iPhone 6, the two-year-old model it's most likely to replace. The new iPhone's Geekbench score was 126 percent higher than the iPhone 6, suggesting much faster performance.

iPhone 7 Benchmarks

Benchmarks don't tell the whole story, though. We made every iPhone export a one-minute 1080p video to a 720p file in iMovie, and found that iMovie—at least for now—is no faster on the iPhone 7 than on the iPhone 6s. Both phones exported the file in 10 seconds, as opposed to 17 seconds with the iPhone 6 and 22 seconds with the iPhone 5s.

You're more likely to see the increased performance with games, like Riptide GP Renegades, wher you start to see deeper reflections and better lighting on the iPhone 7 (right) than on the iPhone 6s (left).

We'll have more details on iPhone 7 performance in our full reviews next week.

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