Zit Seng's Blog

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Pixel 5 Benchmarks

Google opted to forgo the top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon processor in their new Pixel 5 smartphones. The question on many people’s mind is whether the Snapdragon 765G is good enough to not impair the the experience of the new flagship in everyday use.

The latest and greatest Qualcomm mobile processor is the Snapdragon 865. It’s used in most premium flagship Android smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy S20 series, OnePlus 8 series, and even the Mi 10 series. So it might come as a surprise that Google decided to pick a more economical processor platform this year for the Pixel 5. The good news is that the Pixel 5 is now positioned as a smartphone in the high end range of the mid-tier devices, which brings with it a more affordable price tag.

But we want a premium Android experience, right? Will dumbing down the processor impair the performance of the Pixel 5?

For the most part, no. The Pixel 5 feels great in everyday use, though there are some obvious slowdowns in post-capture photo processing, which has got to do with the removal of the dedicated Pixel Neural Core chip. Photo processing is now done on the main processor itself.

Instead of just “gut feelings”, some of us may prefer to look at hard numbers. So here I have some benchmark scores, comparing the Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 4 XL, and Pixel 5. The first table below shows Geekbench 5 scores.

Geekbench 5Pixel 3 XLPixel 4 XLPixel 5
Single-core513622586
Multi-core183923881522
Compute160720131001

The numbers don’t look great for the Pixel 5, seeing that it loses to the Pixel 3 XL in both the multi-core and compute scores.

PCMark for AndroidPixel 3 XLPixel 4 XLPixel 5
Work871296398947
Web Browsing718772447977

The Pixel 5 seems to fair better in these tests that are less synthetic in nature compared with Geekbench. In PCMark for Android, the Pixel 5 is faster than the Pixel 3 XL. Oddly enough, while the Work score of the Pixel 5 loses to the Pixel 4 XL, it pulls out ahead for the Web Browsing score. I’m not sure what the Pixel 5 has that makes Web Browsing superior.

Storage benchmarks run with Androbench shows rather interesting results.

AndrobenchPixel 3 XLPixel 4 XLPixel 5
Seq read (MB/s)750.25798.97936.42
Seq write (MB/s)245.19125.27417.63
Random read (iops)33624.8829133.0850221.33
Random write (iops)43884.2631432.9654567.18
SQL Insert (qps)2730.862422.983867.37
SQL Update (qps)3467.93193.153340.05
SQL Delete (qps)4148.124266.163943.14

The Pixel 5 appears to have the fastest storage, as evidenced by sequential and random reads/writes. It compares quite well in SQLite operations too. The surprise here is the poor performance of the Pixel 4 XL.

Here are the battery runtime minutes from PCMark for Android below.

PCMark for AndroidPixel 3 XLPixel 4 XLPixel 5
Battery (mins)550722848

My Pixel 4 XL tests don’t show as horrible a battery longevity as many others have reported. The Pixel 4 XL isn’t great, but it is better than the Pixel 3 XL by a fair margin. The Pixel 5, however, is even further ahead, running for 14 hours and 8 minutes.

The Pixel 5 also beats the Pixel 3a, though not surprisingly, in every benchmark score. It also almost does so against the Pixel 4a, except for multi-core and compute scores under Geekbench 5.

You won’t get flagship performance with the Pixel 5. However, as most of us have likely suspected for some time already, smartphones have gotten so powerful that it may not be most important to have the fastest processor available.

The decision to go with the Snapdragon 765G on the Pixel 5 is more than just about saving costs. It allows Google to also extend the Pixel 5’s battery runtime. The Snapdragon 765G, unlike the top-end 865, includes an integrated 5G modem, which helps reduce power consumption on the smartphone.

The Pixel 5’s long battery life is definitely one of its highlights. I personally am quite happy to have a completely competent processor, even if not top-of-the-line, in exchange for lower cost and excellent battery longevity.

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