The Samsung Galaxy S6 has a couple of new state-of-the-art components built into the device; the new generation, 64-bit Exynos 7420 processor is built on a mobile ‘phone industry leading 14nm die size. Samsung also incorporated a second generation Universal Flash Storage system, UFS 2.0, designed to reduce power consumption and improve memory performance. Together, these two new components should make the Galaxy S6 lightning fast and we’ve certain seen Samsung’s claims. When it comes to assessing device performance, it’s the processor and video hardware that generally takes the limelight. However, in day to day use the memory performance is as important if not more so. Memory tends to be slower than processors; slow internal storage will cause delays when switching between applications on the device and a powerful processor will be left waiting around until it has something to work with. The question is: how well does Samsung’s new UFS 2.0 technology built into the S6 compare with contemporary and previous-generation flagship devices?
Firstly, let’s discuss Samsung’s rationale for dropping external, expandable storage. From a business perspective, removing the memory slot means that customers who need additional storage must buy a higher capacity device, which typically has a premium over the smaller sized models. This means Samsung have a captive audience wanting a higher margin handset. Secondly, external storage is sluggish (and has been for some considerable time compared with internal storage) and this can cause performance issues when a customer stores applications on the memory card.
GSM Arena ran a series of benchmark tests to compare the Samsung Galaxy S6 with several competitor smartphones using the AndroBench memory storage benchmark application. Through a series of benchmark tests the Galaxy S6 showed performance improvements compared with both the new HTC One M9 and the best of the 2014 Android flagship devices such as the Galaxy S5, LG G3 and Galaxy Note 4. For example, in the Sequential Read test the Galaxy S6 managed 318 MB/s compared with the HTC One M9’s 239 MB/s, the LG G3’s 240 MB/s and the Galaxy S5’s MicroSD card speed of just 43 MB/s. For the sequential write performance test, here the S6 ran slightly slower than the Note 4, HTC One M9 but was over ten times quicker than the Galaxy S5 writing to the MicroSD card. Random read and write performance is exceptional compared with previous generation; the Galaxy S6 manages around ten times the performance of a high-performance memory card.
This higher performance memory access does not necessarily translate into a device that is much quicker in use, but it will keep things beautifully smooth when multitasking between applications or when working with data-heavy applications, for example downloading large files in the background whilst working with other applications. And whilst the performance differences are certainly eye-opening, there’s something beautiful about being able to swap in another memory card whereas this is not an option with the S6. However, Samsung is likely to discover how upselling customers from the 32 GB model to the 64 GB model or even the 128 GB boosts the bottom line. I suspect the MicroSD cards will be finding less favour going forwards.