System Performance - Still a large(r) contrast

The performance difference between the Snapdragon and Exynos S9’s was among by biggest complaints about the latter variant. Here there’s a stark difference in software quality between what Qualcomm and S.LSI were able to deliver. Let’s see if the Note9 improves this in any way:

PCMark Work 2.0 - Web Browsing 2.0

The Exynos Note9 here unfortunately doesn’t really improve on the S9, and even shows a slight regression.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Video Editing

The video editing test further showcases the same behaviour, with the Snapdragon Note9 being in line with the S9+ result, while the Exynos Note9 is in line with the S9 result.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Writing 2.0

The writing test of PCMark is in my opinion one of the most important tests in our suite, as its results pretty much directly correspond to the actual perceived speed of a device in a lot of every-day scenarios. The test makes heavy usage of common Android APIs to achieve representative usage of common tasks such as text editing and PDF rendering.

The Exynos Note9 here seems again to showcase a slight performance degradation over the S9, but it’s all within margins of error.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Photo Editing 2.0

The photo editing test consists of small bursts of workloads making use of Android’s image processing APIs. This test’s key feature is that it is very sensitive to the responsiveness of the system, in other words, how fast the SoC can ramp up its performance.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Data Manipulation

Finally, the data manipulation test is the most telling one in terms of the differences that Samsung has made on the Exynos model: Here the Note9 performs significantly worse than the Exynos Galaxy S9, coming in with a 34% lower score.

The data manipulation test is characteristic in the way it works in that it has a significant portion of heavy single-threaded processing. What’s actually happening on the Exynos Note9 here is that Samsung is disallowing the SoC to boost to its single-core 2.7GHz mode as often as the S9 originally did, a regression that I also encountered with my custom kernels on the S9.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Performance

In terms of overall result, the Exynos Note9 falls in the ranks by several spots, now scoring even lower than last year’s Exynos 8895 S8, a not too fantastic showing.

Web browsing: less 2.7GHz – more actual performance?

The most evident result of the more prohibitive single-core booster is in the web browsing tests:

Speedometer 2.0 - OS WebView WebXPRT 3 - OS WebView

Both in Speedometer 2.0 and WebXPRT 3, the Exynos Note9 performs better than the S9 with its initial firmware. The result here is directly related to the decreased result of the data manipulation score in PCMark. As explained in our scheduler pieces, one of the reasons the Exynos S9 fared so badly in these tests is the core booster mechanism; boosting to 2.7GHz on a single big core while relegating all other threads to the small cores results in worse performance than simply if there were simply more big cores available, but at a lower clock speed. The latter scenario is what happens on the Note9 as why we see a 10% improvement over the S9.

The most low-effort band-aid

Overall, the actual changes in behaviour of the Exynos chipset in the Note9 represent nothing more than the most low effort changes possible. What Samsung has done here is just slightly change the booster mechanism in order make workloads more difficult to trigger the single-core 2.7GHz boost mode. For performance this is both beneficial as well as a regression, depending on workloads. What is more important is that the severe battery life impact of the 2.7GHz frequency is more significantly reduced through these changes, even though efficiency still doesn't match the Snapdragon 845 variant.

While performance has increased in the web benchmarks by around 10% - the overall result is still abysmal. Comparing the speed of the Snapdragon Note9 to the Exynos Note9 in just everyday usage, the Exynos still pretty much falls behind in every aspect. Samsung had a chance to improve things more drastically with the release of the new phone, but to me it just looks like another disappointment.

The Snapdragon Note9 is pretty much in line with other S845 devices: performance is a non-issue. While there are now more contrasting devices out there such as Huawei’s Mate 20’s – the Snapdragon Note9 is still a great device to use when it comes to its performance.

Introduction & Battery Life GPU Performance & Device Thermals
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  • Speedfriend - Tuesday, November 27, 2018 - link

    My iPhone 7 is slower than my Pixel 2XL is real usage, and constantly shuts down updating of my trading app in the background which is incredibly annoying
  • AceMcLoud - Wednesday, November 28, 2018 - link

    Hmm, exact opposite experience for me. What trading app are you using?
  • darkich - Tuesday, November 27, 2018 - link

    Honestly, I don't feel even the slightest of those supposed performance setbacks in my Exynos Note 9 ..everything I do is performed flawlessly.
    The webpage editing on the DeX, even Linux beta on DeX.
    I just edited and upsampled a 2.5 minute 1080p into 4K video in less than 2 minutes while simultaneously recording it in 60fps 4K via DU recorder (to have an evidence).
    I'll post it to YouTube of anyone is interested!
  • darkich - Tuesday, November 27, 2018 - link

    *simultaneously recording the editing process.
  • darkich - Tuesday, November 27, 2018 - link

    Also, the autonomy has been nothing short of great with an exceptionally consistent results.
    The device constantly gives 10h SoT (calculated).
    And again, if anyone is interested I can provide link to screenshots and battery statistics.
    Andrei maybe one the most knowledgeable guy about phones on the planet, but I start to question the objectivity of his overall assessments.
    You diss the Exynos autonomy based just on one single battery benchmark?!?
    Sorry but that's just NOT a good argument.
    In real world use, the differences are negligible, even sometimes favorable to Exynos version, such as in the case of GSMArena tests where E8990 had significantly better standby efficiency and overall better result than the SD835.
  • cha0z_ - Wednesday, November 28, 2018 - link

    I actually also got 10-12h SOT and 36h on battery constantly. Without any power saving, 1400p, autobrightness, mixed wifi + some 4g - youtube, facebook, messenger, viber, samsung internet browser, some calls, listening to poweramp hifi for 1-2h and light gaming (for example epsxe running diablo 1). With heavy gaming (fortnite on ultra, vainglory on high) in long sessions around 3.5-5h I always get around 7h+ SOT.

    The phone is really cold, even when heavy gaming is involved + the performance is good/smooth. I wonder if sd note 9 high sustain scores in GPU are because of insane temperatures and if that's the case - this is a mistake that will fry your phone if you game a lot... as games like fortnite on ultra will cause massive overheat when played for long time even if they perform well.

    Otherwise there is no logic why the note 9 exynos isn't outperforming even slightly the s9 exynos in sustain while the note 9 sd blows the s9+ sd.
  • najxina - Tuesday, November 27, 2018 - link

    Bought Exynos version few months back but doesnt feel like buying a flagship device
  • jaju123 - Monday, December 3, 2018 - link

    What are you finding wrong with it?
  • cha0z_ - Tuesday, December 4, 2018 - link

    The mediocre SOC that underperforms badly compared to the sd845 and is equal and even sometimes SLOWER than the sd835 in real world performance. :)
  • cha0z_ - Tuesday, December 4, 2018 - link

    P.S. while we in Europe (and the most of the world) pay actually more for the note 9 than the buyers in USA. Perfect and fair.

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