System Performance

The performance of Pixel phones has historically always been quite excellent due to Google’s focus on providing an optimised software stack on top of the provided hardware. For the Pixel 5, this is also the case, and is actually more important than ever given the phone’s not-quite-flagship SoC specifications. We’ve seen other Snapdragon 765 throughout last year – some were good, but others didn’t quite feel as responsive, so let’s see how the Pixel 5 fares.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Web Browsing 2.0

We’re starting off with PCMark’s web browsing test. In general, this test is more about a phone capability to maintain smooth animations without frame-drops, as most devices nowadays are frame-rate limited and bunch together in the charts depending on their refresh rates, with a few exceptions of some devices which have aggressive DVFS and scheduler settings.

The Pixel 5 here does well and ends up in the middle of the pack. It’s actually a good showing and doesn’t reveal that the phone has weaker hardware as some other Snapdragon 865 phones perform quite similarly.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Writing 2.0

The writing sub-test here does however showcase that the Pixel 5 uses inferior hardware. The test is amongst the most important in the PCMark suite as it has more heavy workloads which are more representative of general device performance and responsiveness. The Pixel 5 performs similar to the LG Velvet, which doesn’t come as a surprise as both have the same SoC. This is notable below the pack of flagship SoC devices out there.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Photo Editing 2.0

The photo editing test is accelerated via Renderscript libraries, and the weaker GPU of the Snapdragon 765 also comes into play as it doesn’t have the computational throughput of its bigger siblings.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Data Manipulation

The data manipulation test is heavily animation bound and has a large single-thread component. We’ve seen this test to be quite sensitive to the way the CPUs are scheduling things around and some devices perform better in the test depending on their software tuning of the scheduler and DVFS algorithms. The Pixel 5 actually fares very well here, which is no surprise given Google’s attention to detail of such things.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Performance

In the overall performance score of PCMark, the Pixel 5 fares adequately, and actually quite ahead of the LG Velvet, thanks to its better software tuning, but does fall behind flagship competition, including last year’s Pixel 4.

Speedometer 2.0 - OS WebView JetStream 2 - OS Webview WebXPRT 3 - OS WebView


In the web-browsing tests, including both the JavaScript workloads as well as the more general purpose WebXPRT, the Pixel 5 falls to the bottom of the charts. This is unfortunately just a hardware disadvantage of the rather weaker CPUs of the Snapdragon 765.

Overall Performance & Experience

Overall, in subjective device experience, the Pixel 5 still remains a very snappy and responsive phone. There’s a bit of a contradiction here as how to describe the phone – on one hand, Google’s excellent software tuning means that there’s very little lag for the phone, however the device’s lack of more computational power does however show up if you’re doing any heavier workloads, and here, it does become noticeable that it’s not as powerful as other devices which employ flagship SoCs.

The most interesting comparison here is against the Pixel 4 with the Snapdragon 855 – the predecessor device many times actually does outperform and feels more performant than the newer Pixel 5, a reminder that there is quite a difference in this year’s new product category that Google is aiming the phone at.

Introduction & Design GPU Performance
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  • Flunk - Friday, January 22, 2021 - link

    Correction, the US version of the Nord uses the slightly inferior Snapdragon 690 SoC so it should be slower. It's still crazy cheap.
  • Fulljack - Sunday, January 24, 2021 - link

    snapdragon 690 uses newer cortex-a77 while snapdragon 765g still uses cortex-a76, clockwise it's slower by 16,66% but the ipc gain is 20%, so snapdragon 690 are actually faster. qualcomm products naming are weird, I know
  • iphonebestgamephone - Monday, January 25, 2021 - link

    The gpu would probably be slower on 690.
  • Spunjji - Monday, January 25, 2021 - link

    @iphonebestgamephone - correct, the 690 uses the Adreno 619L which is actually around 50% slower than the 620.

    Qualcomm's naming system is b a n a n a s
  • eastcoast_pete - Monday, January 25, 2021 - link

    For how long does OnePlus guarantee software (system and security) updates for? That's an important part of a phone's value proposition. And, while it pains me as an Android user, not leaving owners of older phone models behind is something Apple actually does well. I was, however, pleasantly surprised when Xiaomi made an OS update for my decidedly middle-class (at time of purchase) phone available even after >2.5 years of ownership. I took note of that, and it might help convince me to buy another phone from them.
  • Arbie - Saturday, January 23, 2021 - link

    The Pixel 5 also has a much larger battery than the 4a. Which is why I would have considered it as an eventual replacement for that.

    Except they removed the headphone jack so no dice.
  • rahvin - Saturday, January 23, 2021 - link

    Those aren't the only differences, the battery is quite a bit longer lasting (owing to the extra 200mah deleting the 3.5mm jack). The glass is also GG6 versus GG3 like on the pixel 2/4a5G, it's the smoothest glass I've ever encountered, if I set the pixel 5 down (screen down) on a table that is even slightly out of level it will slide off. It's like I'm carrying around an air table puck. The GG6 is also significantly harder to scratch based on what's happened to mine since I got it. I honestly wouldn't have expected that much improvement in glass between GG3 and GG6 but IMO there is.
  • Spunjji - Monday, January 25, 2021 - link

    Same conclusion I came to. The 2GB of RAM isn't really useful. The 90Hz screen would be *nice*, and the same goes for IP68 rating - but you can get most or all of those with other companies' $400 phones. I haven't used wireless charging since my Palm Pre 2 🤷‍♂️
  • BrokePeopleBuyBadStuff - Monday, January 25, 2021 - link

    ...yeah that stuff isn't free and it's faster than last years BUDGET phone. Don't get me wrong, it's still a budget phone but yeah...broke people get broke joke phones I guess.
  • Great_Scott - Monday, January 25, 2021 - link

    The Chart says that the Pixel 4a (5G) is the phone to get of the three.

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