As newer smartphones continue to join their lesser performing counterparts in the market, we are definitely going to see a lot of octa-core processors present in these mobile devices. The most recent one happens to be Samsung’s Exynos 8890, which has four of the company’s own custom processing cores, while the remaining four are Cortex-A53 cores. MediaTek’s Tru Octa-Core is another one. However, the question here is, are octa-core processors present in smartphone actually beneficial, or are they used as a marketing gimmick?
Octa-core Processors Work, But Other Factors Need Consideration
Software and hardware must play along nicely in order to ensure that the smartphone functions smoothly, and is able to provide adequate battery life. The more cores a processor has, the automatic assumption that people have is that it consumes more battery. While this is true to an extent, the architecture and design of the processor also go a long way in delivering a ton of performance and ensuring high battery life. So where exactly does software play a part in this?
For Android smartphone manufacturers, they have this terrible habit of shifting away from a pure Android experience and run extra software on top of it. Their skinned UI has been customized and stuffed with many bloated applications. These apps put undue stress on those processing cores, reducing performance as a result. This is possibly the reason why high-end devices need to have more cores running otherwise the entire operating system will feel extremely sluggish. Alternatively, they can keep their customizations at a minimum.
Google’s Nexus and Apple iPhones Represent a Pure Experience
Additionally, why do you feel that a Nexus device performs significantly smoother than a current generation smartphone despite not featuring ‘eye protruding’ hardware? It’s because the software has been toned down to such an extent that processing cores are utilized very little (they are only utilized when you actively use the device, which is the complete opposite case for other manufacturers’ phones). This would also explain why Apple has continued to maintain a dual-core processor in its iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.
The company knows that it cannot achieve much while being limited to hardware, so it branched out to refining its software, made the customised processors play nicely with that software, and as a result, deliver much better performance. We still do not understand why companies feel the need to put in so many applications when they know that there are much more suitable alternatives available on the Google Play Store. It ultimately ruins the experience for the user.
When Quad-core Processors Work, Why Go for the Octa-core Gimmick?
The answer: While more cores do equal to better performance in some situations, lots of companies have started to use this marketing tactic in an effort to sell more phones. Qualcomm has openly admitted that even though quad-core processors are more than enough to finish the job, the company purposely develops octa-core processors since it knows that consumers will be more attracted at the prospect of seeing more cores in a smartphone.
The company has announced Snapdragon 820, and unlike the overheating Snapdragon 810, the latest chipset runs on four custom developed processing cores. This is also clear proof that you do not always need more cores for a smartphone to run fluidly, and that it is the software that will require the majority of the tweaking. If you do get a chance, try running a Nexus device with a smartphone belonging to another manufacturer, and you will immediately be able to notice the difference.
So what have we learnt at the end of the day? Are octa-core processors used as a marketing stunt? To an extent, they are, but there are several benefits of having more cores running in a smartphone, as long as the right conditions are met. However, keep in mind that Apple has shown that their devices are functioning quite well while running just two cores, so looking at this evidence, we have to say that it is the software that needs quite a wee bit of work too.