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Shootout: 4G LTE Smartphones Below S$600

By Sidney Wong & Vijay Anand - 15 Jul 2013

Performance Benchmarks


While we usually start off our performance comparisons with the Android OS based Quadrant benchmark to assess the phone's processing capabilities, we doubt that's the most important aspect one's looking out for in mid-tier phones. Besides, the numbers don't really dictate how the phones handle in real usage where these and many other devices fare decently. And since we've a Windows Phone 8 device among the comparison, we've chosen to compare mobile browsing response time with the SunSpider JS benchmark which is browser-oriented and not OS specific. Following that, we proceeded with our usual battery life testing.


SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark 

SunSpider Javascript serves as a common benchmark that measures the browsing performance of mobile devices, and is applicable for all mobile platforms. It not only takes into consideration the underlying hardware performance of a device, it also assesses how optimized a particular mobile platform is to deliver a high-speed web browsing experience on its default browser. It is important to note that for this benchmark, a lower figure indicates a better web browser performance on a mobile device as it measures the time taken in milliseconds to complete the scripted benchmark.

How the Phones Stack Up
Device HTC One SV LG Optimus F5 Nokia Lumia 820 Samsung Galaxy S4 mini Sony Xperia SP
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 dual-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core 1.7GHz
GPU Adreno 305 Adreno 225 Adreno 225 Adreno 305 Adreno 320
OS Android 4.1.2 Android 4.1.2 Windows Phone 8 Android 4.2 Android 4.1.2

The Nokia Lumia 820 takes the crown in the SunSpider Javascript benchmark with a significant lead over its Android counterparts, and is the only phone in this comparison to complete the task below the 1,000ms mark. Perhaps the Lumia 820's default Internet Explore browser contributes quite a bit to the outcome too. Meanwhile, Samsung’s Galaxy S4 mini ranks a distant second at 1,385ms and is followed closely by the Sony Xperia SP. HTC came up last even though its processing platform is equivalent to the LG device.


Battery Mileage

Our standard battery test for mobile phones includes the following parameters:

  • Looping a 800 x 480-pixel video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter 
Test Phones Compared
Specifications/Device HTC One SV LG Optimus F5 Nokia Lumia 820 Samsung Galaxy S4 mini Sony Xperia SP
  • Dual-core 1.2GHz
  • Dual-core 1.2GHz
  • Dual-core 1.5GHz
  • Dual-core 1.7GHz
  • Dual-core 1.7GHz
Display Size
  • 4.3-inch
  • 4.3-inch
  • 4.3-inch
  • 4.3-inch
  • 4.6-inch
Display Type
  • Super LCD 2
  • Super AMOLED
Display Resolution
  • 800 x 480 pixels
  • 960 x 540 pixels
  • 800 x 480 pixels
  • 960 x 540 pixels
  • 1,280 x 720 pixels
  • 128 x 66.9 x 9.2mm
  • 126.04 x 64.46 x 9.30mm
  • 123.8 x 68.5 x 9.9mm
  • 124.6 x 61.3 x 8.94mm
  • 130.6 x 67.1 x 9.98mm
  • 122g
  • 131.1g
  • 160g
  • 107g
  • 155g
  • 1800mAh
  • 2150mAh
  • 1650mAh
  • 1900mAh
  • 2370mAh

Repeating the Galaxy S4's top-notch battery performance in the 5-inch smartphone segment, the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini managed to come up well ahead of the competition with a chart topping battery uptime of over 10 hours! Peering into its power consumption figures, we can clearly see the Galaxy S4 mini is the most frugal of the lot and a big portion of this lead is thanks to its power efficient Super AMOLED display that it touts.

Following a distant second place is Nokia's Lumia 820 clocking in a mileage of six hour which is an impressive feat for a Windows Phone device to last longer than many of its Android counterparts which have larger battery capacities. It is also the only other phone besides Samsung to use an AMOLED display, but it sports the earlier generation variety and the power consumption chart does show a corresponding 30% difference when compared to the Galaxy S4 mini. While screen technology is just one of the determining factors for the state of the phone's power consumption, it certainly contributes a high percentage. But to prove our point, if you factor in Nokia's 15% lower battery capacity compared to the Samsung counterpart and also factor in Samsung's 30% better power efficiency, the Lumia 820 can last almost as long as the Galaxy S4 mini. So Samsung is indeed leading purely by its technological superiority.


As for the other phones like HTC and LG, they are very middling performers with LG having a very high power consumption figure that's sapping its high capacity battery dry unusually fast. Of course, the worst of the lot is the Sony Xperia SP with its larger screen. You would think that the 4.6-inch screen is enough reason to give it some leeway for its outcome, but in actual fact, it's also performing below expectations when compared to other phones sporting a similar size and higher resolution screen.

Moving on to our Portability Index, it was no surprise to see the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini excel as it had the longest battery mileage, the most compact physical form factor, the sleekest at just 8.94mm thin and the lightest phone at 107g. The HTC One SV takes up a distance second place, while Nokia's Lumia 820 fell a few more positions below due to its bulkier build and weight. Don't forget that part of the reason why the Lumia 820 has to put with its physical attributes if because of its integrated wireless Qi charging capability. To find out more, we've written more about this wireless charging standard over here. So in Nokia's case, it's trade-off between features and physical form. In fact, to ensure its leading phone is leaner, the upcoming Lumia 925 has kept the wireless charging capabilities integrated on its accessories and not in the phone.