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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  • Jon Tseng - Friday, January 22, 2021 - link

    >It’s been a couple of months now since Google announced the Pixel 5 –
    >Unfortunately we didn’t quite get to a timely review of the device due to
    >other important industry coverage.

    lol Anandtech's "it'll be ready when its ready" approach to deadlines is one of the most endearing features of the site

    On that note has an Ampere/RTX3080 review on up yet? Obviously a somewhat hypothetical purchase but would be int to hear the view..
  • erple2 - Saturday, January 23, 2021 - link

    Interestingly, maybe Anandtech is right to not actually post a review of the effectively unavailable RTX 30x0 GPUs. They're not available to most people anyway. Maybe Anandtech has been silently protesting the "paper" launch of the next gen GPUs? :)
  • MattMe - Friday, January 22, 2021 - link

    I've owned the original Pixel, Pixel 3 and now the Pixel 5.
    I really liked the approach to offering top tier devices in a smaller form factor when the original was released, and appreciated the vanilla Android experience. The cameras have been fantastic, in all scenarios, I have been honestly left astonished at what the camera can capture even in challenging lighting environments.
    I dropped and broke the glass on my Pixel 3 otherwise would likely have kept it another year or so, but having had a look around I opted for the Pixel 5. One thing I noticed right away that I don't feel the charts here get across is the real world battery life. I'd consider myself a power user, but not particularly focused on heavy workloads (I don't often play games or run other demanding apps on my phone outside some image editing and music creation/production), but I have noticed 50% of my battery remaining at the end of the day quite often, whereas on my Pixel 3 (even when it was new) I would be needing to charge by the end of the day.
    The screen is great, the cameras are still fantastic, the resin/plastic back feels comfortable and grippy, the size is perfect. I really have no qualms whatsoever.

    My main reservation before purchasing was the CPU, I'd heard that it was a noticable downgrade to the Pixel 4 and even 3 but in reality I have not noticed this. I read reviews mentioning how you can see image processing completing when opening a picture immediately after snapping it, but I always saw that on my Pixel 3 too. If anything I feel this is quicker than the 3 over all, and I never felt CPU-bound with that device!

    All this is to say, I agree with the review. :)
    The price could be lower, compared to the 4a5g may not be great, but in comparison to the 4 last year as a 'flagship' I would say it is.
    I'm much more pleased with the device than I expected and would happily recommend it.
  • MattMe - Friday, January 22, 2021 - link

    That was a long one, I think I'm surprised by how it feels like an upgrade over the Pixel 3, despite many reviews talking about how it's a downgrade. I'd rather pay less if the only trade off is the CPU, which appears to be the case for the 5.
  • BedfordTim - Friday, January 22, 2021 - link

    The reason I have always ruled out Pixels is storage. For phone where one of the main selling points is photography, 128GB is not enough and expandable. I filled 160GB on my old Lumia 950.
  • supdawgwtfd - Friday, January 22, 2021 - link

    I have a Pixel 3.

    Unlimited cloud storage ;)

    Photos only now are limited on cloud storage Pixel devices.
  • iphonebestgamephone - Sunday, January 24, 2021 - link

    Not everyone has unlimited data ;)
  • tipoo - Friday, January 22, 2021 - link

    Hard to believe the GPU in this underperforms what was in my iPhone 7, 5 years ago. They went really low end with this chip. Now Android seems well enough tailored for low end hardware that you're not feeling it too much, but certainly with intensive apps and games you would.
  • GC2:CS - Saturday, January 23, 2021 - link

    But A10 took like 6 or 7 W at full load and throttle badly to 3.

    This sucks up one. You cannot directly compare those.
  • Spunjji - Monday, January 25, 2021 - link

    I mean, you can - and you just did.

    This is more efficient but slower than a 5-year-old chip. It would be fair to expect something that is both more efficient and *at least* as fast, given the intervening progress with manufacturing processes. Qualcomm can definitely build such a GPU, but they're choosing not to. It's sad.

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