Google Nexus 5 Super Fast Android Phone Challenges iPhone 5s In Benchmarks

One of the hallmark features of Google's Nexus 5 flagship smartphone by LG isn't its bodaciously big and beautiful 5-inch HD display, its 8MP camera, or its "OK Google" voice command / personal assistant feature. Frankly, that's all been done before.  What does stand out about the Nexus 5 is Google's new Android 4.4 Kit Kat operating system and LG's smartphone SoC (System on Chip) processor of choice, namely Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 quad-core. Qualcomm is known for licensing ARM core technology and making it their own within their Krait architecture, and Qualcomm's latest Krait 400 with Adreno 330 GPU that comprises the Snapdragon 800, is a powerful beast.

Furthermore, Google has taken the scalpel to Kit Kat in all the right places, whittling down the overall footprint of the OS, so it's more efficient on lower-end devices and also offers faster multitasking. Specifically memory usage has been optimized in a number of areas. Couple these OS tweaks with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 and, as we've discovered, you end up with a smartphone that really hugs the corners and lights 'em up on the straights.

We've had the Nexus 5 in house for a few days now and are preparing a full review. However, we thought it would be a good Friday tease to give you some benchmark numbers up front, while we're working on the full monty.  We're still putting the Nexus 5 through its paces, but as it turns out, our preliminary figures are promising. Have a little look-see...

We'll dive headlong right into graphics.  The folks at Rightware tipped us off the the Nexus 5's prowess a few days ago, so we had to see it in action for ourselves.  First we'll start with a Futuremark test suite, however, but keep scrolling for Basemark X numbers from Rightware as well.

The following scores are taken with Futuremark's Ice Storm Extreme benchmark test.

The first thing to consider is our round-up of devices.  You've got Samsung's Galaxy Note 3 on top, which is pretty much a "phablet" (yes, we hate the term too but what else do you call it?) with a 5.7-inch screen and 6-inches in height. Guess what's also under the hood of that big, bad boy? You guessed it, a Snapdragon 800. However, for the Note 3, Samsung also bolted up 3G of RAM and fast storage to the 2.3GHz Qualcomm Krait SoC.  As you can see, it helps in the benchmarks and technically the Note 3 is our top smartphone dog, if you're comfortable holding that size of device up to you ear. The Nexus 5 also sports the same 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 but is paired with just 2GB of RAM. And of course Apple's iPhone 5s sports the new 64-bit A7 processor.  The Moto X sports a different combination of a Snapdragon S4 Plus dual-core, along with Adreno 320 graphics at 1.7GHz. What's more interesting here is the Moto X actually has a stronger GPU than is found in the 1.9GHz Snapdragon 600 quad-core that powers the Samsung Galaxy S4. And so, as you can see, the numbers fall in line accordingly.

Regardless, the combination of a leaner, meaner Kit Kat OS and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 puts the Nexus 5 ahead of the iPhone 5s (total Ice Storm score), due mostly to its better physics processing.  The iPhone 5s with Apple's A7 shows slightly faster overall graphics performance but it's bested by the Nexus 5 in the Graphics Test 2 portion.

GLBenchmark shows an even more interesting picture and the Nexus 5 is able to sneak past the iPhone 5s again, in our Egypt HD off screen test, by a healthy margin. The iPhone 5S and Apple's A7, in typical fashion, blow all other devices out of the water in fill rate measurements.  However, fill rate, as you can see, doesn't always equate to top performance.  You need geometry throughput and fast shaders, along with many other things, to go with that fill rate as well. Interestingly, the Nexus 5 slipped past the Note 3 in our fill rate test.

Basemark X afforded us a bit more visibility into other devices, as we have a larger score database here to choose from. Unfortunately, the folks at LG had us send back their latest G2 device or we would have had Ice Storm Extreme numbers for you there as well. Here we see the iPhone 5s outpace all in the on-screen test due to its much lower resolution screen, but off-screen results show a much tighter grouping.  Incidentally, NVIDIA's SHIELD Android gaming handheld is powered by an actively cooled Tegra 4 SoC. You can decide if it's fair competition on your own but we included it for reference.

That wraps up what we've got for graphics testing so far.  Let's look at some general compute workloads.

SunSpider measures Javascript processing so it's indicative of performance in a multitude of general purpose scenarios, of which web browsing and interaction is one of them. Here the Nexus 5 and Galaxy Note 3 are again nipping at the heels of the iPhone 5s.

Rightware's BrowserMark test could be a better indication of where the Nexus 5 scores relative to general performance and web browsing.  Here, the iPhone 5s comes out on top again but by a more modest margin of less than 10 percent.  The Nexus 5 is actually able to outpace the Galaxy Note 3 here, as well as the LG G2, likely as a result of slightly better memory and thread management afforded by Android 4.4 Kit Kat.

All told, we're pretty impressed with what we've seen of the Google Nexus 5 thus far. Performance-wise the device is a real speedster. Additionally, refinements within the Android 4.4 Kit Kat OS, with slightly larger icons, "OK Google" commands and better overall responsiveness, do a nice job of enhancing the Android experience.  We'll have more to come with the Nexus 5 in the days ahead. So refresh, early and often.