Cell phones benefit from two cores

Quad-core in the smartphone: what do cores 3 and 4 bring?

Samsung Galaxy S3, HTC One X, LG Optimus 4X HD - the high-end smartphones from Asian manufacturers have started the trend towards quad-core processors, and more and more manufacturers are announcing corresponding models or bringing them onto the market. The question naturally arises: Who actually needs the computing power of such powerful processors in a smartphone? Does that have any noticeable advantages in everyday life? Or outweigh the disadvantages that such platforms naturally also have? We investigated these questions.

Quad-core in the smartphone
Image: HTC, LG, Samsung - assembly: teltarif.de First of all, a few basic things. A quad-core processor has four, in the case of the Nvidia Tegra 3 even five, computing cores that are operated in parallel. The clock frequency can usually be regulated dynamically, depending on the power the smartphone is currently using. The clock frequency itself is not necessarily higher than that of a chip with fewer cores. The advantage over a single or dual core looks clear on paper: More cores = more computing power = a faster smartphone. But is that really true in practice?

Strengths in everyday life and in the multimedia area

A number of benchmarks are available to assess the performance of a smartphone - although these do not necessarily say anything about everyday use, they do provide objective information about the performance of the hardware platform used. There is no mistaking it in this area: Quad-core smartphones usually outperform other smartphones with two or one computing core. In addition to the bare benchmark figures, quad-core mobile phones can really score points, especially with complex multimedia applications such as 3D games or high-resolution videos. The higher computing power plays a fundamental role here. However, it is not the case that dual-core smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S2 from last year have to abandon the sails - most things can also be done with less powerful processors, even if a bit slower or jerky.

The speed of quad-core chips is not only noticeable in benchmarks and in 3D games or multimedia applications, but also in everyday things. As a rule, applications start faster on such high-end systems and animations run more smoothly. Often many things just feel more fluid, somehow rounder. On the other hand, you pay for these things with a few disadvantages. The high-end smartphones often get noticeably warm when they are fully used, because the CPU now draws more power and there is no active cooling. In addition, the power consumption increases rapidly at full power, as more cores are running at full speed - the battery then dies faster. In general, however, four cores do not necessarily have a negative effect on the battery life compared to two, because for the same overall performance, each of the four cores runs slower and thus more energy-saving than two with a dual core. In practice, the runtimes with one battery charge are usually similar, especially since the manufacturers of quad-core cell phones often use somewhat more powerful batteries.

However, the points just mentioned sometimes differ from operating system to operating system - we will show you the effects of the various platforms on speed on the second page.