CPU Performance

The Lumia 930 is the second device from Nokia to utilize the Snapdragon 800 platform, with the Lumia 1520 6” Phablet also sporting the same SoC. In this particular case, it is the MSM8974VV variant which contains four Krait 400 cores at up to 2.2 GHz, along with as Adreno 330 GPU. The 930 also has 2 GB of LPDDR3 memory. This combination really kick-starts Windows Phone, which prior to the 1520 had been utilizing dual-core Krait 200 on the upper end models. The implications are dramatic, with the Lumia 930 providing a huge real-world increase in speed. Anyone who believes Windows Phone somehow does not need a faster SoC is kidding themselves, as this device has proven to me. App loading times are much quicker, and app rehydration, which is a huge issue on older devices, is so much quicker that it is almost instant. Skype is well known to all Windows Phone users for having sometimes ridiculous rehydration times, but the Snapdragon 800 almost completely overcomes this handicap.

We can use several benchmarking tools in order to quantify this difference in performance. We will start with some web based javascript tests, and then move on to some native benchmarking tools.

SunSpider 1.0.2 Benchmark  (Chrome/Safari/IE)Kraken 1.1 (Chrome/Safari/IE)Google Octane v2  (Chrome/Safari/IE)WebXPRT (Chrome/Safari/IE)

Sunspider has the Lumia 930 besting all but the iPhone 5s. Historically Internet Explorer has always done well at Sunspider though, and version 11 continues that trend. Unfortunately this benchmark has been optimized for by all companies. Moving up to more complex Javascript, we can see the difference with IE 11 compared to other browsers. The 930 falls behind the Google Nexus 5 which shares the same SoC, and it is well behind the Snapdragon 801 equipped phones. However the 930 scores almost half of the 1020 which is a great generational leap. A similar situation occurs on Google Octane, with the 930 behind the Nexus 5, but well ahead of last year’s Lumia devices. WebXPRT scores show the same trend. The Snapdragon 800 transforms Windows Phone into a contender. Javascript performance of IE 11 still is not as good as Chrome or Safari, but it is at least getting close with the latest version of the browser.

BaseMark OS II - OverallBaseMark OS II - SystemBaseMark OS II - MemoryBaseMark OS II - GraphicsBaseMark OS II - Web

BaseMark runs as a native application, and therefore is not handicapped by the Javascript engine of the browser. Here the 930 performs well, with a score right around the same score as the iPhone 5s. Performance compared to the dual-core Krait 200 of the Lumia 1020 is once again pretty much doubled. Looking at the rest of the BaseMark scores, it becomes very clear how much of an improvement the 930 is over previous Windows Phones with MSM8960.

Graphics Performance

For GPU comparisons, we would normally turn to RightWare’s Basemark X 1.1, however a bug in the current version prevents it from running on the Lumia 1520 and Lumia 930. I have contacted them, and they have promised to look into it. If a patch is released, I will re-run the tests and update Bench. We do have access to GFXBench though, so let us see how the 930 performs.

GLBenchmark 2.7 - T-Rex HDGLBenchmark 2.7 - T-Rex HD (Offscreen 1080p)GLBenchmark 2.7 - Egypt HDGLBenchmark 2.7 - Egypt HD (Offscreen 1080p)GLBenchmark 2.7 - Fill TestGLBenchmark 2.7 - Fill Test (Offscreen 1080p)GLBenchmark 2.7 - Triangle ThroughputGLBenchmark 2.7 - Triangle Throughput (Offscreen 1080p)GLBenchmark 2.7 - Triangle Throughput, Fragment LitGLBenchmark 2.7 - Triangle Throughput, Vertex LitGLBenchmark 2.7 - Triangle Throughput, Vertex Lit (Offscreen 1080p)

Version 2.7 of the benchmark is the current one for Windows Phone, with 3.0 listed as coming soon, however we can still get a glimpse at the huge performance leap from the last generation. While still not as quick through the benchmarks as Android and iOS, it is at least in the same room as them now.


Windows Phone does not support our storage benchmarking apps, and current ones in the store are either wildly inaccurate, or just provide abstract results. For this reason, we are going to create our own, but it is not ready yet. NAND performance was not tested on this device.

Performance Summary

One thing that Anand has harped on with regards to Windows Phone is that it is often on a much older SoC than competitive Android phones. This delta in performance is difficult to turn a blind eye to, even for supporters of the platform. With the 930 and Icon counterpart, Nokia has launched a phone which was on the most current SoC at the time of launch in February, which is a big step forward for Windows Phone performance. With the recent release of the HTC One (M8) for Windows, the platform now has the same SoC as most other flagship Android devices. That is a much bigger deal than many realize. The performance of Windows Phone has always been good on low end hardware, at least as far as the actual OS and animations, but in-app performance could suffer. The Lumia 930 is a breath of fresh air to Windows Phone and this one change alone is quite startling when compared to older devices.

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  • Gunbuster - Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - link

    Good to finally have a review, even if it's conveniently just in time to be buried by apple articles.
  • Brett Howse - Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - link

    That's my bad I received the phone at the start of August but was unable to review it for a while due to personal matters.
  • jimbo2779 - Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - link

    Lol I gotta say I did think this myself but am sure it is just unlucky timing.

    I am very glad that WP is starting to get some virtual column inches around here, there really isn't a best place to read reviews about phones or anything else tech related really.
  • maximumGPU - Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - link

    Yes thanks Brett for finally reviewing a windows phone. Hope they get more coverage.
  • halcyon - Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - link

    Shortest real-world battery life.

    Longest battery recharge times.

    Non-removable battery.

    Slowest / Stupidest web-browser for visiting web-pages and no real alternative on the whole platform (all are IE skins basically).

    And very little WP apps to combat the sucky browsing experience.

    Now, remind me again, why would I buy this as a smartphone?
  • kyuu - Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - link

    Real-world battery life is much better than the tests suggest. I'm not sure if there's an issue with how Brett is doing the testing or what, but it's definitely not right.

    Battery recharge time was skewed due to Brett not being able to use the proper charger.

    Harping on a non-removable battery nowadays is just silly.

    IE on WP doesn't have the best benchmark scores, but those benchmarks are largely useless anyway. They've all been optimized and cheated on by everyone. In real usage, I don't notice any difference in web page load times on my Lumia 920 (which has a much slower SoC than the reviewed 930) as compared to any flagship Android or iPhone.

    WP has plenty of apps, including some really nice ones that can't be found on other platforms. Harping on the app store thing at this point is ignorant.

    Buy whatever smartphone platform you like, but kindly don't cherry-pick a few tidbits from a single problematic review to support what is likely your preexisting bias against the WP platform.
  • notposting - Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - link

    I upgraded from the 928 to the Icon, and putting them side by side running WP8/GDR3 with the same apps, performance is basically identical.

    The Icon pulls away in loading times, and has a slight advantage in browsing, but otherwise even the older dual cores run fine.

    Put the Icon up against the LG G3 I shipped out yesterday and web browsing was a wash.

    Of course, the camera on the 928 blew them both away in very low light situations, so there's that. :P
  • Klimax - Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - link

    "One thing that Anand has harped on with regards to Windows Phone is that it is often on a much older SoC than competitive Android phones. This delta in performance is difficult to turn a blind eye to, even for supporters of the platform."
    What for. In general you don't need that power. (For exceptions there are some games like Total Defense 3D, which can slow down massively)

    Delta in performance often doesn't translate in better experience...
  • suandantal - Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - link

    I just bought this device (live in europe) and I love it! Just sold my old company phone IPhone 5 which I've never really used that much, IOS just doesn't cut it for me I guess although I do love the Hardware. Currently I own a nexus 5 as well as this green lumia 930 as well as the old 920. Lumia 930 is definitely an upgrade over the 920, although battery life isn't as good as it should be. Everyone should give WP a try... so try a lumia 630/635 they're like 100-150$, yet really delivers a very good experience.
  • dirtyvu - Sunday, September 21, 2014 - link

    It can't be emphasized enough how great the RAW feature is. I've personally not been impressed by most smartphone pictures. They're great... for smartphone pictures. But after running the 929/930 RAW pictures through Adobe Camera Raw, these are amazing pictures. Pictures I can show as equal or superior to "real" cameras.

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