The smartphone market is constantly evolving, and new devices are launched every year with better features and specifications. However, one aspect that has remained largely unchanged for a long time is CPU performance. For years, Apple has been dominating the CPU performance with its iPhones, thanks to its custom ARM-based CPU cores that are faster and more efficient than the standard ARM CPU cores used by most Android smartphone processors. However, this could change in 2025, as the Galaxy S25, Samsung’s flagship smartphone for that year, could finally surpass the iPhone 16 Pro in CPU performance, thanks to the upcoming Cortex-X5 CPU core from ARM and the 3nm chip manufacturing process from Samsung and Qualcomm. In this article, we will explain what the Cortex-X5 CPU core is, how it will be used in the Galaxy S25, and what other features the Galaxy S25 will offer to compete with the iPhone 16 Pro.
What is the Cortex-X5 CPU core and why is it important for smartphone performance?
ARM is the company that designs the CPU cores that are used by most smartphone processors, including those from Samsung, MediaTek, and Qualcomm. These CPU cores are based on the ARM architecture, which is a set of instructions and standards that define how a CPU should operate. The ARM architecture is optimized for low power consumption and high efficiency, which are essential for mobile devices. However, Apple also uses the ARM architecture, but with its own custom modifications that give it an edge in performance. This means that Apple’s CPU cores are not directly comparable to ARM’s CPU cores, even if they use the same architecture.
The Cortex-X5 CPU core is ARM’s latest and most powerful CPU core design, which is expected to be unveiled later this year. It is codenamed “Blackhawk”, and according to a research report from Moor Insights and Strategy, it has “an audacious plan to have the best smartphone CPU core” in 2025. The report claims that the Cortex-X5 CPU core will bring the largest year-over-year performance gains in the past five years and will “eliminate the performance gap between Arm-designed processors and custom Arm implementations”. In other words, the Cortex-X5 CPU core could match or surpass Apple’s custom CPU core in terms of speed, while still maintaining the low power consumption and high efficiency of the ARM architecture.
The CPU performance of a smartphone is measured by two main factors: the single-core performance and the multi-core performance. The single-core performance refers to how fast a single CPU core can execute a task, while the multi-core performance refers to how fast multiple CPU cores can work together to execute multiple tasks. The single-core performance is more important for everyday tasks, such as browsing the web, using apps, and gaming. In contrast, multi-core performance is more important for heavy tasks, such as video editing, multitasking, and rendering. The iPhone 15 Pro, for example, has a single-core performance of 1,729 points and a multi-core performance of 4,615 points, according to Geekbench 5, a popular benchmarking tool. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, the fastest Android smartphone chip available today, has a single-core performance of 1,350 points and a multi-core performance of 4,000 points, according to the same tool. This means that the iPhone 15 Pro is 28% faster than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 in single-core performance, and 15% faster in multi-core performance. The Cortex-X5 CPU core could close this gap, or even reverse it, by offering a higher single-core and multi-core performance than Apple’s custom CPU core.
How will the Galaxy S25 use the Cortex-X5 CPU core and the 3nm chip manufacturing process?
The Galaxy S25 is Samsung’s flagship smartphone for 2025, and it is expected to use the 3nm Exynos 2500 chipset for most of its variants. The Exynos 2500 chipset will likely feature the Cortex-X5 CPU core, along with other improvements such as better graphics, AI, and connectivity. The 3nm chip manufacturing process will also help reduce the size and power consumption of the chipset while increasing its performance and efficiency.
However, not all Galaxy S25 units will use the Exynos 2500 chipset. Some regions, such as the US and China, will likely use the 3nm Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 chipset from Qualcomm. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 chipset will also feature a 3nm chip manufacturing process, but instead of using the Cortex-X5 CPU core, it will use Qualcomm’s own custom CPU core, called Oryon. The Oryon CPU core is based on the Nuvia technology that Qualcomm acquired in 2021, and it has shown immense promise in delivering high performance and low power consumption. The Oryon CPU core could also match or beat Apple’s custom CPU core in terms of speed, making the Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 chipset a formidable competitor to the iPhone 16 Pro.
The Galaxy S25 is shaping up to be a smartphone that could finally surpass the iPhone 16 Pro in CPU performance, and possibly in other areas as well. The Cortex-X5 CPU core from ARM and the 3nm chip manufacturing process from Samsung and Qualcomm will give the Galaxy S25 a significant boost in speed and efficiency, while the Exynos 2500 and Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 chipsets will offer different options for different regions. The Galaxy S25 will also have a stunning camera system, a seamless hardware-software integration, and a fluid software experience, making it a worthy contender for the best smartphone of 2024. The S25 will also have some unique features that the iPhone 16 Pro will not have, such as a microSD card slot, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a stylus pen, giving it an edge in versatility and functionality. The Galaxy S25 is expected to be launched in February 2025, with a starting price of around $1,000. The iPhone 16 Pro is expected to be launched in September 2024, with a starting price of around $1,200. The Galaxy S25 could be the smartphone that finally dethrones the iPhone 16 Pro in CPU performance and challenges it in other aspects as well.