Long known for its PC-based benchmark suite, Futuremark has released its first mobile testing app, 3DMark, for Android. Because it uses standard resolutions (720p and 1080p) on OpenGL ES 2.0 benchmark results are apples-to-apples on both Android and, eventually, iOS.
How it does this is simple: instead of rendering the tests at the phone or tablet’s native resolution, it buffers the data to either 1280×720 (Ice Storm) or 1920×1080 (Ice Storm Extreme) and then upscales the picture to the prescribed pixel number. This means that devices with 720p screens running a 1080p test are not disadvantaged and vice versa. It also allows for high-resolution tablets like the Nexus 10 to take part in the tests.
While we’ve been moving away from benchmarks in our reviews, 3DMark poses an interesting question: with the majority of high-end Android devices running nearly identical hardwar — Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 Pro or 600 SoC with an Adreno 320 GPU — how will manufacturers differentiate themselves in terms of performance? It appears off the bat that Google performed a number of driver enhancements in Android 4.2.2, as the Nexus 4 outshines even the faster HTC One in many tests.
When the iOS version is released, it will allow benchmark enthusiasts and developers the opportunity to see how Apple’s A6 chip compares to Qualcomm’s and Samsung’s latest high-performance chips as well.
Note that 3DMark requires Android 3.1 and higher to run, so Gingerbread devices are not able to join the fun.
Download 3DMark for Android.