What Does It All Mean?
I've talked about mobile benchmarks not only in my reviews, but to my peers, to friends, to many people. I understand why they're relevant, but to most people, they need to be invisible. These benchmark scores, at the end of the day, mean nothing to 90% of people. Sure, the Xperia Z2 from Sony pretty much dominated our benchmarks here today, but what does that mean? It came number one in what exactly?
Most people will buy a smartphone and use Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, Vine, Chrome, YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, and countless other applications without even giving a second thought to something called "3DMark" or "GFXBench" or "Basemark X" in the sea of applications on their respective digital stores. These benchmarks are used by professionals to gauge performance between devices to see if something funny is happening on them, or by the companies making the smartphones.
The standard consumer has no need to know about these benchmarks, as the Nexus 5 could score 300% above all other smartphones - but would it matter? If the Nexus 5 scored 500FPS in GFXBench 3.0's ALU test instead of the 119.3FPS that it did, compared to the fastest smartphone in our benchmark scoring 150FPS, being the Xperia Z2, would it make headlines? No, no it wouldn't. It would need to consistently score higher than the rest, but even then, most people wouldn't notice that in their Facebook news feed, and it surely wouldn't make the front page of a newspaper or tech site for long.
Benchmarks on desktop and gaming PCs is something I'm down with. The performance you receive from a synthetic benchmark can be equated between GPUs, CPUs or whatever other part you're testing. I could go into that, and say that these benchmarks don't really do much apart from overclockers busting these world records easier and easier these days, because it doesn't roll through to real-world performance in games. This is something that deserves its own editorial, but I'm sure you see where I'm going with that. Desktop benchmarks have their place, but mobile benchmarks? Not so much in my opinion.
Should This Sway Your Purchasing Decision?
Should the results of mobile benchmarks sway your purchasing decision? Definitely not. Anyone that told you so, would have a really hard time explaining themselves to you. "Oh, but I really think you should buy XYZ smartphone because it scored 130FPS in benchmark 7!" How do you reply to that? How would a normal consumer reply to that? "Oh, um, that must mean it is really fast then, right?" This is how it would go 9/10 times, and after working in IT retail for close to 10 years, this is definitely how I have seen it happen in front of my eyes, for me to convince a customer that performance in a benchmark is something that is not worth running after.
When it comes to purchasing a new smartphone, there are far bigger things that you should consider: screen size and resolution, battery life, which operating system is it running (and does it get regular updates), its camera, does it feature wireless charging, is it waterproof or water-resistant, and so much more. These are probably the biggest things you should be considering, but we're not here to sell you a smartphone now, are we? But if we did, any of these smartphones are great devices for you to own.
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