Despite the superiority (at least on paper) that Qualcomm processors historically show, Samsung uses Exynos on European territory. Its high-end products, such as the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, have the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 in other territories and the Exynos 2100 in Europe: the same mobile with a different heart.
We wanted to see if these differences are notable and which of the two units is more recommended. For this, we have thoroughly compared a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra with the Exynos 2100 against another S21 Ultra with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888.
On a technical level, the Exynos 2100 and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 are similar, although important differences cannot be seen with the naked eye. The CPU in both cases is made up of ARM’s new Corte-X1 core, accompanied by three A78 and four A55 cores. Although they look like clone structures, it should be noted that Qualcomm customizes its cores (Kryo), so it is one step ahead of Samsung.
There are also differences in GPU, the Mali-G78 MP14, compared to the Adreno 660. We already give you the small spoiler that the GPU of the Snapdragon 888 performs considerably better, although, on a technical level, there are not so many differences.
Sustained performance testing
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 left. Exynos 2100, right. The red zone represents a significant drop in performance.
Before talking about benchmarks, we are going to put these two phones to the test. The best way to make a processor suffer is to perform sustained performance tests, that is, to put it to work at its maximum for as long as possible. For this test, we have twice passed a 15-minute stress test (CPU) and the 3D Mark Unlimited Stress Test by 3D Mark, which puts the phone to the limit through several passes.
It took two passes to the test (30 minutes) for the Exynos 2100 to begin to kneel. The Snapdragon 888 drops, but less noticeably
During the CPU stress test, it was unnecessary to take more than two passes to see how the Exynos 2100 drops considerably on the second pass. In other words, by stressing the CPU to the maximum for less than half an hour, the Exynos starts to drop in performance, while the Snapdragon 888 holds up much better. Being more technical, after 30 minutes of testing, the CPU of the Snapdragon 888 has dropped to 78% of its performance, while that of the Exynos 2100 has dropped to 60%, almost a 20% difference between both processors.
To squeeze them even more, we have given both phones the Aztec Ruins High Tier 1440p test 9 times in a row (the maximum allowed by the app) to measure sustainably again. In this case, the results have been curious since Qualcomm has remained similar to Exynos. Here it has fallen before, although it does recover to reach the level of the Exynos in the next pass. In the last two passes, the most important ones (the phone is already hot and with the performance to the minimum) the Exynos has fallen more, although slightly.
Lastly, we have measured the FPS Genshin Impact can move at maximum graphics settings. The graphs show that Qualcomm is somewhat more stable than Exynos, which has more frequent performance drops. Both move about 40 FPS (in 2K settings and at maximum quality).
What do the benchmarks tell us?
As the benchmarks have been telling us since both processors were released, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 is well above the Exynos 2100. We leave you below with the data that both phones have shown in a comprehensive list of tests. Beyond Geekbench, PCMark, and 3D Mark (our three usual ones), we have carried out specific tests within the tests and used GFXBench, a benchmark that includes more than 20 tests.
To test the battery of the S21 Ultra in its Qualcomm and Exynos versions, we have used the PCMark test, which squeezes the phones for a good number of hours. The test was conducted with the two mobiles in the same room, at the same temperature, and maximum manual brightness level.
The results indicate what we will discuss later in the user experience section: the Exynos 2100 drains faster. Specifically, the synthetic tests gave us a difference of 40 minutes, almost an hour of bread—size less, in the same conditions.
We have measured the consumption in real-time to complete these tests, squeezing the most out of the processor with Genshin Impact. Here the graphs indicate how the Qualcomm consumptions are much more linear and low, while the Exynos consumes something else, fluctuating throughout the game.
Camera Processing Test
Although both S21 Ultra has a 108-megapixel camera, there may be some difference at the processing level. This is because the ISP (Image Signal Processor) is not the same in each processor, so that the photographs may vary a priori.
Although the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has the same camera, each processor has an ISP, generating small differences in processing.
It was enough to take a couple of photographs to check slight differences in processing. They are minimal details that do not tip the balance to buy one or another model, but we wanted to spin as fine as possible to rescue those data that go unnoticed.
the Qualcomm photograph is slightly more saturated. It is necessary to resort to color spaces such as DCI-P3 to appreciate the difference in colorimetry fully, but, in light of the photography that the average user will take, the difference is not noticeable.