Android Enthusiast
Apr 13, 2014
I My current device is rocking a mediatek mt6737 and feels a bit sluggish. My current carrier is custom rom friendly but frankly the roms available for this device are all missing one thing or another for daily driver use, either bluetooth not working correctly or MMS, so I am stuck with stock for this device (android 7.1). I have been perusing other devices and the budget market has a metric ton of options for rom-friendly phones and that is great. I see alot of the newer devices have octo-core cpus and I am just wondering this is a "trend" or if newer android version and custom roms are in need of this extra horsepower. What are the tradeoffs? Battery life seems an obvious place to look, but I expect optimizations have been made. Are there other tradeoffs/gotchas to look at for modern/octo-core devices?
Maybe - If your needs are modest, a quad core could be fine. i have a Cubot Nova (MT6739 quad core 3GB/16GB with a 64GB sd card. I'm not a gamer, and it's OK for my needs. (It's been my daily driver for a while until I went to an Android 10 phone and it's now found use as a webcam.

I've also got a very old (Android 4.1.1 Jellybean) InFocus IN610 MT6589 quad core 1GB/8GB with a 32GBsc card. That's found a new life as a dedicated GPS device.

Although, given the low cost of 8 core phones, that's the way to go. Mine is a Umidigi F2 (MT Helio P70 6GB/128GB on Android 10, which cost £179 (GBP) Battery is 5000mAh and lasts me 2-3 days on a charge.
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usage may be the issue. I have 2gb of ram on this device with the afore mentioned quadcore and still have trouble opening my calculator. I consider modest usage to be mp3 playback and using a calc + web browsing. While I will admit that these apps only ask for a few seconds more time than I think they should need, they still seem sluggish in comparison to the usage of others. Native apps do not seem to have the same quick load time that others with more modern hardware have. I just want to save to time in app-load purgatory I guess
I always say that the type of cores matters at least as much as the number - indeed I tend to be suspicious of adverts that boast about the number of cores, as that frequently means "a cheap SoC with lots of old, slow cores". Decent modern SoCs (System on a Chip) tend to mix a small number of high-power cores for the times you need horsepower with a larger number of low-power cores for routine tasks, but it tends to be midrange SoCs and higher that do that, while low-end ones just have a cluster of low-power cores.

The MTK 6737 is a very low-end SoC by modern standards: 5 years old, based on a 28nm process, with 4 low-power A53 cores with a max clock of 1.35 GHz. Compare that to say the Snapdragon 450, which is a 3 year old low-end SoC, but uses a 14 nm process (more power efficient for the same clock speed) and 8 A53 cores with a maximum clock speed of 1.8 GHz. That said, it should be capable of running an MP3 player and opening a calculator, even with only 2GB of RAM: I've a 2013 HTC running Android 7 (lineage) that, while clearly slower than my Pixel 2, is capable of doing that level of stuff without being annoying (and that's a quad-core processor, albeit a slightly faster one). I don't know whether different ROMs might help (with such limited resources software optimisation may matter more) or whether this is something you can't fix (e.g. if the scheduler for that SoC is rubbish). Slow opening of apps could also be due to slow storage or limited I/O bandwidth to the SoC, rather than the processor struggling (if you store apps on an SD card that could increase loading times). I do suspect that a new phone would probably be the easiest way to get a significant step in performance though.
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Personally I don't think the SoC nor number of cores are as big a factor as RAM in a phone you buy today. Excluding bargain-priced models, the CPU and GPU performance and responsiveness in typical phone is overkill except for that minority of users who have more demanding needs. For most of us, it's the installed RAM that determines just how functional our phones may or may not be. There's also some basics involved. Processors are under continuing development so they're getting faster and more efficient, but an eight-core, high speed SoC is still going to use more battery power while producing more heat than an older, slower four-core SoC. But it's all relative in a lot of ways though, as we're also getting higher-capacity batteries and things like liquid-cooling in our phones.
Anyway, I'd pay attention to RAM more. 2GB is marginal at best, 4GB and above better for a daily usage phone. But all that aside, don't forget to account for all the other hardware aspects that might be a factor to your particular needs -- do you tend to need a lot of internal storage, or is the camera module adequate?
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As a user of cheap, low end devices, let me drop some details of what I recently discovered on this subject.

All of my previous devices were 4 core, and low clock speed at that.

2 of them are 1GB RAM, 8GB internal (5.1.1 & 8.1.0), while one of them is 1GB RAM and 16GB internal (9).

2 more are 2GB RAM with 16GB internal (7.1.1).

Now, typically the 2GB devices were for media, games, and power surfing.
The 1GB devices, after ditching whatever stock poop I could, are good for normal browsing.

Now the one I got most recently is an 8 core, running 9 and a slightly higher clock speed.
But it is still only 2GB RAM with 16GB internal.

So this makes for good comparison with the other 2GB devices. It even cost the same as they did! ($40 USD)

To be honest, I really didn't think much difference was to be had. The clock speed is within a few hundred mhz, and the RAM is equivalent along with the internal memory.

Well, was I ever surprised!

8 cores made a very noticeable difference, especially after I disabled a bunch of stock drivel and put my prefered apps onto it.

It is just much smoother and faster.

Considering that it cost the same, yet performs better- and has basically the same stats- I have to credit most of this to the extra cores.

Another great thing about it is that a large amount of the stock and Google tripe installed is able to be disabled.

Now, for sure, after I fell in love with this thing, I did finally find its limits- it has frozen up on me a few times.

But, you know, don't be trying to download and then move 3½GB of videos and pictures all at once with a $40 phone.
It will do just fine at 2½GB at a time.
I tried to move 3½GB and it froze,
and now I know, lol.

Anyway, it is a Motorola e6, purchased from Wal-Mart for $40- and at that price I couldn't be happier.

I would say that even if everything else is the same between two devices, get the one with more cores.
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This thread gave me the push I needed to grab a new device. I too am a low end/cheap phone guy and looked pretty hard at the Moto's and Oppo's. I Finally settled on a Poco F1 because its specs put the Moto G7 to shame and I have always been unreasonably biased against Oppo (seriously, no reason, I just dont want one. they look great though. weird right?)

I am feeling that the old device was just a weak SoC. Ive used dual core platforms with 1gb of ram that were snappier. There is a decent development community for my device so I may try to breathe some new life into it with a new rom. I had had problems with my carrier in the past due to non-stock roms, but since I will be moving to a new carrier for my daily driver, I can really dig into the old one and see what the issue is.

Thanks for the help guys. The new device has better battery life and is far snappier. I am testing it out as a daily driver now, and it seems like there might be hiccups with the carrier moving to VoLTE down the road, but for now it seems like I made a solid purchase.
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I was always a fan of Motorola, until they were priced out of my reach.

I was overjoyed to find this thing for $40, and even unlocked it would have been only $150.

A stellar device for the cost.