Introduction & Updates
With our increasing mobility and addiction to information, smartphones—our powerful pocket computers that help us create, locate, communicate, and vegetate—have become an indispensable part of modern life. Our reliance on these wireless wonders will only increase as they become increasingly intelligent, filtering our data and predicting precisely when we’ll need it most, even performing actions on our behalf, eventually. This is why it is so important to pick the phone that best serves you—at least until the roles are reversed.
In the time since our last update, we've been busy evaluating new SoCs and CPU architectures. Our preview of Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 820 SoC discussed the company's focus on heterogeneous computing and how this influenced the design of its first custom 64-bit CPU, Kryo. Our performance tests showed an emphasis on floating-point performance and sequential memory bandwidth. The 820's new Adreno 530 GPU is also a beast, setting new records in nearly every graphics test.
Next, we plunged into the architecture of ARM's Cortex-A72 CPU, which replaces the Cortex-A57 as its flagship 64-bit processor. While an evolution of its previous design, ARM made a number of tweaks to improve performance and, more importantly, reduce power consumption. We got our first look at the A72 as well as ARM's Mali-T880 GPU in HiSilicon's Kirin 950 SoC that makes its debut in the Huawei Mate 8 smartphone. Our initial impression was positive, and it will help make 2016 an exciting year for mobile SoCs.
All of this testing and analysis (and CES) has kept us pretty busy lately, but we've been working on product reviews too. Our "long-term evaluation" of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus is complete, culminating in a new flagship phone recommendation. Apple has vastly improved the iPhone's user experience by increasing RAM to 2GB and adding its new 3D Touch feature.
Before choosing a smartphone, of course, you have to pick an ecosystem to play in, whether it's Apple's, Google's or Microsoft's. This choice is highly personal and depends on what you do with your phone and what criteria are important to you. Our picks focus on hardware and user experience and leave this bigger choice up to you.
Hoping one day smartphones will have modular ram for upgrading, like SD cards.