Saturday, October 16, 2010

Samsung Transform - Sub-par hardware in a pretty package.

Just finished reading the review on Engadget of the Samsung Transform, a "mid-end" Android phone launching on Sprint that shares a lot of similarities with my Epic 4G on the surface. But as the review notes, hardware performance is pretty terrible. And that's not surprising since the Samsung S3C6410 inside is an ARM11 chip that was released in 2008.

That's some pretty tired hardware chugging underneath the surface of the Transform, almost comparable to the hardware in the Droid Eris. The problem is, the hardware in the Eris was called old when it launched nearly a year ago. We shouldn't be seeing ARM11 chips anymore. We're almost 2 generations ahead of that tech. 

Keep in mind that Cortex-A8 chips are way faster MHz for MHz than the ARM11 chips. The 667 MHz processor in the Transform accomplishes the same amount of instructions per second as a Cortex-A8 running at 417 MHz. On top of that, Cortex-A8's ARMv7 architecture accomplishes more with less instructions than the Transform's ARMv6. 

In short, the 550 MHz Cortex-A8 processor in the original Droid (which launched almost a year ago) kicks the pants off this chip. And that's not even going into graphics processing power, where the Mali-200 GPU in the Transform doesn't fare any better.

Releasing phones like this is not healthy for Android, which is moving in a direction that requires phones with better hardware, not stuff that's nearly 3 years old. The new JIT compiler in FroYo (Android 2.2) will allow this chip to perform at least reasonably well by boosting average CPU performance over 4 times. This seems to be the only possible justification that Sprint might have used to launch this phone. Unfortunately, they've made one major oversight; it won't help the miserable performance of the GPU.

Here's hoping this isn't a trend. Improvements to Android's compiler should not be used as an excuse to launching obsolete hardware.


  1. uh, the transform has an 800 MHz processor, not a 667

  2. Interesting; my research had shown 667, and Samsung's own documentation states that the processor has a max clock speed of 667 MHz.

    However, a quick search does now pull up multiple sources that support the 800 MHz figure. So, I stand corrected. That said, I also stand by my opinion... 133 more MHz or not.