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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  • shabby - Friday, January 22, 2021 - link

    So after looking at the chart it's $200 more for 2gb of ram, 90hz screen, ip68 rating, wireless charging and headphone jack deletion? Go home Google you're drunk.
  • cbm80 - Friday, January 22, 2021 - link

    It's a luxury product for people who don't care about price.
  • Operandi - Friday, January 22, 2021 - link

    That might be ok if had the look and feel of a high-end phone but its plastic, at least what you touch and feel is. BTW Google if you want wireless charging but want to avoid glass there are all kinds of materials that would work; carbon fiber, Kevlar, wood, maybe even ceramic all of which would look and feel better than plastic.

    I like what Google tries to do with the Pixel phones but the 5 is pretty disappointing.
  • MattMe - Friday, January 22, 2021 - link

    I bought a Pixel 5 a couple weeks back and have to say I much prefer the feel of this over other glass devices I've used recently. It's contoured nicely, is a good size and the textured resin material feels very firm with a nice textured feel to it. It certainly doesn't feel cheap at all, but it does feel more robust meaning I'm less concerned about it cracking or smashing like many glass-backed devices I've owned.
  • BedfordTim - Friday, January 22, 2021 - link

    I will agree, but glass devices are easily fixed with a case.
  • vuvaldi - Friday, January 22, 2021 - link

    If you would put a case on the look or feel of the material doesn't matter, and glass is heavier than plastic so plastic wins clearly here.
  • BedfordTim - Monday, January 25, 2021 - link

    I fully agree that plastic is a far more sensible material for phones. To me design peaked with the Nokia 735. Unfortunately all the best phones now have a glass back and rather than reject them, there is a partial work around.
  • at_clucks - Friday, January 22, 2021 - link

    With a *plastic* case. So just pretend there's glass under the Pixel's and that plastic case, you just never want to take it down and look. Fixed it for you.

    This whole "glass=premium feel" thing was started by reviewers who ran out of things to write and just bought the hype from manufacturers that glass must be something awesome. On the other hand reading reviews of plastic phones made you think touching them will give you the plague. By the time they figured out how fragile the phone gets most people were already trained that glass=premium and manufacturers were happy to deliver on it.

    We ended up having super fragile phones that have to be wrapped in armored cases just to survive. We never see their back once we take them out of the box and slap on the case but deep down inside we live with that warm fuzzy feeling that they're premium underneath.

    Plastic is just fine and cheaper. It can be made too feel pleasant and sturdy, certainly more so than glass. Whoever had a Lumia 1020 can confirm just how nice that polycarbonate casing was, no case needed. And plastic is cheaper so you can have a phone that's just as good but lighter and cheaper.
  • DougMcC - Friday, January 22, 2021 - link

    +1000. Gimme unbreakable phone so I don't have to add an extra 25% weight case. I couldn't care less what material it's made of.
  • patel21 - Friday, January 22, 2021 - link

    Give me a phone like S7 Active. And no need for even a screen protector.

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