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Understanding Mobile Phone Processors

What is a Mobile Phone Processor?

To put it simply, the processor is a component in a mobile phone that controls everything the phone does. It is responsible for running the phones software, display screen, camera and various other tasks like making a phone call.

In this day and age, mobile phones are capable of performing many tasks and are essentially mini computers that you can fit in your pocket with telephone capabilities, hence why they need a processor, to be able to execute the many tasks they are able to perform.

The best way to visualise a processor is to relate it to the human brain. Your brain is responsible for all your bodily functions. Anything your body does is processed through the brain first before an action can be carried out and a mobile phone processor is no different and works exactly the same way.

How Are Processors Measured?

The most common way to measure the size and strength (power) of a processor these days is in gigahertz, there use-to-be megahertz, but that is a rarity these days. Generally, the more power a processor has the larger number of gigahertz it will have. This is not always the case, as there are many tricks processor companies can use to make lower GHz processors faster and perform better than larger GHz processors, but more often than not more gigahertz equals more powerful processor.

Your average smartphone can have anywhere from 800 MHz to well over 2 GHz of processing power, although these days is very rare to find processors less than 1 GHz so you are very unlikely to encounter an 800 MHz processor.

There are currently two types of processors, 32-bit and 64 bit. 64-bit is the more advanced processor as it can access more memory and has the capabilities to do more things at once in a shorter amount of time.

What’s a Core, Quad-Core, Octa-Core and So On?

When looking at the processor specs of the latest mobile phones, there is no doubt you’ve probably come across terms like quad-core, hexa-core and octa-core for the processor. The question is what are they and what do they do?

To begin with, let’s look at what a core is. A core is a processing unit that reads instructions so it can perform specific tasks, so a core is a processor.

Let’s take a look at the quad-core to understand these terms a bit better. A quad-core is one physical unit (chipset) in a phone referred to as CPU (central processing unit), but it has four cores (processors). So, a quad-core CPU (single chipset) has four processors in one unit all capable of individually performing tasks. As for octa-core, that does not consist of eight processors in one unit but 2 x quad-core CPU’s.

Long gone are the days of single core processors (CPUs chipsets with one processor). As phones get more advanced, apps and various programs get more advanced and coded to take advantage of multiple cores, you will likely see more cores (processes) being introduced into a single handset.

How do Cores Work?

Let’s have a look at what single and multiple cores do. If you have a single core CPU, it can only process so much through that one core (processor) before it is overloaded and performance starts to lag. So, if you are trying to perform three demanding tasks at once, these tasks will be performed very slowly by the phone as there’s only so much information the processor can take at one time.

Now, if you have an octa-core processor, for example, you have eight cores (processors) available. If you are trying to perform multiple tasks at once, such as browsing multiple pages on the Internet, sending a text and downloading a large application off the Internet the octa-core processor will do that with ease.

With multiple cores, you have one processor that performs the phone’s basic tasks and the others are asleep. But when you start to run multiple applications and it becomes too demanding for that one processor the other processors (cores) wake up and take the load off the other processor to ensure the phone run smoothly.

Multiple cores = efficiently delegating tasks when it becomes too much for one processor to handle.  

What’s the Benefit of Multiple Cores?

The biggest benefit of having a multiple core processor is its ability to multitask. If your phone usage consists of many different applications running at once and quite often throughout the day, then you will see the benefits of a multiple core CPU.

People who mainly use their phones to make phone calls, receive texts and use a few applications here and there will not see the benefits of having a multiple core CPU.

To sum up: The more cores a CPU has, the more things it can do at once without overloading. This makes sure the phone runs smoothly at all times.

Does Double the Cores Make Your Phone Run Twice as Fast?

Technically, no, double the cores does not mean twice the performance, there is only so much information your CPU can draw from the memory and the amount of power supplied by the battery. These two can severely limit how fast a CPU can work, you would need to increase the amount of memory and battery power than what is currently available in the marketplace as of 2017.

The problem is, these areas in phones see a very small increase in size when upgraded by phone manufacturers and even if the memory doubled, it would still be held back by the battery. We all know how poor battery power is in Smartphones and has been for years with no sign of significantly improving any time soon. Along with these two, you also have to take into account that not all software is coded to take advantage of multiple cores, which further reduces the effectiveness of multiple cores.

With the current memory and battery tech, not to mention some limited software, the main benefit you will see with multiple core processors is the majority of the phones software run smoothly as often as possible with minimal lags, it’s about prolonging optimal performance as often as possible.

Whilst your phone will run a lot smoother more often and a little bit faster with double the amount of cores, you will not see double the performance.

Which One is Best For Me?

The processor that is best for you depends on how you plan to use the phone. For people who will need to perform multiple tasks very often throughout the day will benefit from having more cores and higher gigahertz speed. These types of processors will generally be found in flagship phones or top end mid-range phones.

If you only plan to use your phone to make calls and receive texts whilst running a few applications here and there every few days, more than likely you will find phones in the mid-range category and above that will be more than good enough to perform these tasks.

If you’re the type of person that uses your phone to only make calls, receive texts and use the sat nav app here and there, then the type of processor you have will not matter. You can choose from the most basic budget phone to a flagship phone, in the end, it will come down to what phone you like.[/ffb_param][/ffb_paragraph_0]