AnTuTu is one of the most popular benchmark apps for Android devices. It tests many parts of your device and assigns an overall score. Here’s what AnTuTu is actually measuring and what each benchmark means for real-world use.
Like other benchmark apps, AnTuTu gives your device an overall numerical score as well as individual scores for each test it performs. The overall score is created by adding the results of each individual score together.
These score numbers don’t mean much on their own; they’re just useful for comparing different devices. For example, if your device’s score is 1000, a device with a score of 2000 is about twice as fast. Individual test scores can be used to compare relative performance between different parts of a device — for example, to compare how fast a phone’s storage performs compared to another phone’s storage.
There’s a reason the user experience (UX) score is the first number in the list. This is supposed to be an overall score that represents how the device’s “user experience” will be in the real world. It’s a number you can look at to get a feel for a device’s overall performance without digging into the below benchmarks or relying too much on the overall score.
UX is divided into two sub-scores — Multitask and Runtime. The Multitask score represents how well the device can multitask, so a multi-core CPU will help here. The Runtime score represents how well Android’s Dalvik runtime runs apps.
If you dig into Android’s developer options and switch to the experimental ART runtime — not something we recommend for real-world use yet — your runtime scores should improve. That’s because the newer ART runtime performs better than the older Dalvik runtime in some ways, and this score is all about real performance.
Your device uses random access memory (RAM) as working memory, while flash storage or an internal SD card is used for long-term storage. The faster it can write to and read data from its RAM, the faster your device will perform. Your RAM is constantly being used on your device, whatever you’re doing.
AnTuTu divides the RAM scores into “RAM Operation” and “RAM Speed.” The difference between the two isn’t completely clear — AnTuTu has no documentation explaining which subscore means what — but we’d expect one of these benchmarks applies to RAM write speeds and one applies to RAM read speeds. The overall score indicates how fast your RAM performs.
Your device’s central processing unit (CPU) does most of the number-crunching. A faster CPU can run apps faster, so everything on your device will seem faster. Of course, once you get to a certain point, a faster CPU won’t affect performance much. When it comes to desktop PCs and laptops, most people won’t notice if their computer has a faster CPU because the computer’s CPU is fast enough. We’re quickly getting to that point with Android phones — in fact, we may already be there. A faster CPU may still help when running more demanding applications, such as high-end games.
AnTuTu divides the CPU benchmark into two sub-scores — CPU integer and CPU float-point. You shouldn’t need to care about the difference as a typical user.
If you really want to know, there are two different types of integer types in programming — integer and floating point. An integer stores only integral values, or whole numbers. In other words, an integer could be “2”, “8”, or “34343422352349”, but not “3.14”. A floating point value can potentially have decimal places. For example, a floating point value could be “3.14”, “53.2342”, “6.342352236236236”, or even “1”. As you might expect, keeping track of all those decimal places and using them in calculations is more work than simply sticking to whole numbers. That’s why your device’s CPU floating point score will be slower than its integer score.
Your device’s graphics processing unit (GPU) handles accelerated graphics. When you play a game, your GPU kicks into gear and renders the 3D graphics or accelerates the shiny 2D graphics. Many interface animations and other transitions also use the GPU. The GPU is optimized for these sorts of graphics operations — the CPU could perform them, but it’s more general-purpose and would take more time and battery power. The CPU isn’t used for all the number-crunching in your device — the GPU does the graphics number-crunching.
This benchmark is divided into two subscores — 2D graphics and 3D graphics. You’ll see AnTuTu perform both a 2D test and a 3D test while performing the benchmark. 2D graphics are used when you ply something like classic Angry Birds to move the birds and other elements around the screen. 3D graphics are used when you play something like Angry Birds Go! to render a full 3D scene.
The Input/Output (IO) scores reflect the speed of your device’s internal storage, such as its flash memory or internal SD card. This is where your applications, settings, files, and everything else on your device are stored in long-term storage. Your device regularly loads data from and saves data to its internal storage. Faster internal storage means apps will load faster, files will save quicker, and you’ll see less interface hiccups when an app is saving data or loading data in the background.
AnTuTu displays both Storage I/O and Database I/O benchmark scores. Storage I/O represents the input/output speeds of your device’s internal storage. Database I/O represents the speeds when reading from and writing to a database — this adds more overhead, so this operation is slower.
Benchmarks aren’t perfect and don’t exactly mirror real-world use. Some manufacturers may optimize their devices to perform faster in some benchmark apps — effectively cheating the benchmarks and making their phones seem faster than they are. For example, a phone may run a benchmark without slowing down its CPU like it would in normal use. The benchmark wouldn’t represent real-world use, but would appear faster. Benchmarks like AnTuTu do measure real performance, but you have to take them with a grain of salt.
Image Credit: Karlis Dambrans on Flickr