A6 Processor Performance: The 400 FPS Camera Tells All
It's hard to compare the raw processing performance of each SoC's architecture, since each one runs at a different frequency. The A5X found in Apple's iPhone 4S and third-gen iPad operated at 1 GHz, while the iPhone 5's A6 is clocked at 1.3 GHz (at least according to Geekbench 2.3.6). Initial reports claimed the A6 was a 1 GHz part, but that appears to be inaccurate.
In terms of raw performance, the iPhone 5's A6 posts benchmark results close to 2.5x faster than the A5X (iPhone 4S). Apple's newest smartphone-oriented SoC is even able to stay competitive with the 1.5 GHz MSM8960 featured in HTC’s One X and Samsung's Galaxy S III.
The sub-tests suggest that Apple trails Qualcomm's custom design when it comes to floating-point performance, though, as we discussed in Snapdragon S4 Pro: Krait And Adreno 320, Benchmarked, mobile developers tend to focus their code more on integer math due to the limitations of today’s SoCs.
Apple enjoys a lead in memory performance, its 1 GB of LPDDR2-1066 easily delivering a lot more bandwidth than the iPhone 4S' 512 MB of on-package LPDDR2-800.
Alone, of course, those numbers mean very little. But in the video below, we see the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, and One X opening and rendering the mobile CNN website using a 400 FPS high-speed camera. Every 14 seconds of video is roughly one second in the real world. We're simply magnifying the difference between each phone to illustrate the implications of hardware specs on what you'll see using the devices.
There are some variables in play here. The Web browsers, to begin. Also, you have networking performance to consider. And of course there are the SoCs themselves. But the experience is what matters most to us, and using the iPhone 5 is clearly a snappier experience than the iPhone 4S before it, even if you leave competition out of the comparison.