The development of modern smartphones is similar to the development of computers, only sizes are different. It means that smartphones have processors, RAM, memory drive and, surely, graphic accelerator. Graphic accelerator is a chip which provides realistic and colorful graphics for 3D games. In other words, it’s a graphic card that is present in any smartphone. Those who buy smartphones not only for communicating but for gaming as well should know which graphic accelerators are installed and what productivity they have. This is what I’m going to tell about.

Most of the smartphones at the market have one of the three types of graphic accelerators. These are Mali, Adreno, PowerVR SGX and GeForce Ultra-Low Power (ULP).

Nvidia's Tegra 2 mobile processor
Nvidia’s Tegra 2 mobile processor

British company ARM is involved into the development of Mali graphic architecture. These chips are components of different systems on chip (SoC). Mali is used in the products by Samsung, Gigabyte, Rockchip, and others. For example, Mali-400 MP is a component of SoC Samsung Exynos 421x, which is used in Samsung Galaxy S II and S III.

PowerVR is a development of the Imagination Technologies company, which earlier developed graphic accelerators for desktops. PowerVR chips are used by Samsung, Apple, Motorola and others. Thus, different PowerVR chips generations are installed in all Apple iPhones.

Speakinh about the Adreno, I can say that at the moment Adreno department of mobile graphics is owned by Qualcomm. They bought the technology from AMD. And I think it’s be enough to say that today Qualcomm is the leading supplier of hardware for most mobile developers.

GeForce ULP is a mobile version of desktop graphic accelerator NVIDIA, which is a component of Tegra SoC of in all generations. The main advantage of Tegra before its competitors is a specialized content which is intended only for devices based on this SoC. This is due to the close cooperation of NVIDIA with game developers who optimize their games for GeForce graphics. All games optimized for Tegra can be found in a special app store Tegra Zone.

If you want to know what graphic accelerator is installed in your device, you need to know the exact model of your device or its SoC. Android users can get this information with such apps as Quadrant, AnTuTu Benchmark, 3DRating Benchmark. After that you may use the following table* in order to see your graphic accelerator.


System on chip

Graphic accelerator

Samsung Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note II, Galaxy Note 10.1

Samsung Exynos 4412

Mali-400 MP4

Samsung Chromebook XE303C12, Nexus 10

Samsung Exynos 5250

Mali-T604 MP4

Samsung Galaxy S II, Galaxy Note, Tab 7.7,  Galaxy Tab 7 Plus

Samsung Exynos 4210

Mali-400 MP4

Samsung Galaxy S, Wave, Wave II, Nexus S, Galaxy Tab, Meizu M9

Samsung Exynos 3110

PowerVR SGX540

Apple iPhone 3GS, iPod touch 3gen

Samsung S5PC100

PowerVR SGX535

LG Optimus G, Nexus 4

Qualcomm APQ8064

Adreno 320

HTC One XL, Nokia Lumia 920, Lumia 820, Motorola RAZR HD, Razr M, Sony Xperia V

Qualcomm MSM8960

Adreno 225

HTC One S, Windows Phone 8x, Sony Xperia TX/T

Qualcomm MSM8260A

Adreno 220

HTC Desire S, Incredible S, Desire HD, SonyEricsson Xperia Arc, Nokia Lumia 800, Lumia 710

Qualcomm MSM8255

Adreno 205

Nokia Lumia 610, LG P500

Qualcomm MSM7227A

Adreno 200

Motorola Milestone, Samsung i8910, Nokia N900


PowerVR SGX530

Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Huawei Ascend P1, Ascend D1, Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7″


PowerVR SGX540

RIM BlackBerry Playbook, LG Optimus 3D P920, Motorola ATRIX 2, Milestone 3, RAZR, Amazon Kindle Fire 1 and 2


PowerVR SGX540

Motorola Defy, Milestone 2, Cliq 2, Defy+, Droid X, Nokia N9, N950, LG Optimus Black, Samsung Galaxy S scLCD


PowerVR SGX530

Acer Iconia Tab A500, Iconia Tab A501, Iconia Tab A100, ASUS Eee Pad Slider, Eee Pad Transformer, HTC Sensatoin/XE/XL/4G, Lenovo IdeaPad K1, ThinkPad Tablet, LG Optimus Pad, Optimus 2X, Motorola Atrix 4G, Electrify, Photon 4G, Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, Galaxy Tab 8.9, Sony Tablet P, Tablet S

nVidia Tegra 2

GeForce ULP

Apple iPhone 5

Apple A6

PowerVR SGX543MP3

Apple iPad 2, iPhone 4S, iPod touch 5gen, iPad mini

Apple A5

PowerVR SGX543MP2

Apple iPad, iPhone 4, iPod touch 4gen

Apple A4

PowerVR SGX535

*data taken from

Techivian has done its own testing of the most popular video chips and has got the following results:

Graphic accelerators table

In other words, if you need a smartphone that will be able to work with “heavy” 3D games a year after its release, then you need to buy a device with top graphic accelerator. These are Mali 400, Adreno 225 and Adreno 320. For casual 2D games a smartphone with graphic accelerator of medium class, such as Adreno 200 and 205, PowerVR SGX543, and Mali 300. They will provide graphics on the PSP level.

But very soon we may expect that mobile chips will provide the graphics of best gaming devices. For example, chip Mali-T658, which is to be released this year, will improve efficiency up to 10 times if compared to Mali-400.

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