The current generation of smartphones market themselves based strongly on their processors, namely using the number of cores as the attention grabber. The truth is though, there is currently no real need for a higher core count.
When Mediatek launched their 8-core processor it was heavenly in benchmarks, but processors like this are often paired with very weak GPU's - the part chiefly responsible for the performance of gaming.
To illustrate this point let's take a look at these phone performance benchmark results from a variety of recent processor releases.
Here the Huawei 8-core beats the Snapdragon 801( a popular processor found in many flagships) which may make it an attractive option, but look closely at the actual GPU performance and you'll find this isn't necessarily the case. The same applies to the Mediatek MTK MT6592 which is found in many low to mid-range smartphones and scores 30,217, but still loses to the Snapdragon 400 with Adreno 305 in practical tests. The MTK is often powered by Mali GPU's which are generally weaker and older, with the exception of T600-T700 series
Then comes the Exynos from Samsung, which isn't really an octa-core but rather a pair of quad cores - one of them being low power and the other being high power, switching itself depending upon the processes running. Exynos is found in flagship devices in some countries, like the Samsung Galaxy S5 in India. Although it's powerful and has a respectable GPU it still loses to some quad core and even dual core processors in synthetic benchmarks.Â
In short octa-cores generally have weaker cores compared to quad cores and many applications can't capitalise on the use of them except through benchmarks, while the additional cores also means they consume a lot more power and reduce battery life. Â
To some manufacturers such as Motorola, GPU cores are counted as actual cores, in a similar manner to AMD's APUs, whose recent A10-7850K was advertised as 12-core (4 CPU + 8 GPU).Â Moto advertises its Moto X8 as having 8 cores, which when you break it down is a dual-core CPU, quad-core GPU, a natural language processor and a contextual computing processor. It's worth bearing these things in mind when choosing a phone, and a high core count doesn't necessarily amount to better computing power in a cellphone, so it can pay to be wary of purely synthetic benchmarks.Â