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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  • DocDAT2 - Friday, January 29, 2021 - link

    Agreed. I wouldn't use a Samsung, even if I were given a top model.
  • Questor - Thursday, January 28, 2021 - link

    Just say NEVER to Apple. Degoogle my phone. That's my primary concern. Other than that, does it work? Yes? Good.
  • Fritzo - Friday, January 29, 2021 - link

    Feel Google screwed it up not releasing an XL version, and there wasn't much benefit getting the Pixel 5 over the 3XL I currently have (in fact- there are downsides: the sound on the Pixel 5 is a lot worse). 4G is plenty fast for my area, so don't really care about 5G compatibility.

    With the deals being offered, I ended up upgrading to the Samsung S21 Ultra. Got it for less than the Pixel 5 after offers from Verizon, and it's a giant upgrade from what I have. I really wanted to give Google my money (I'm a Nexus, Pixel, Pixel 2, Pixel 3XL, and Pixel 4a owner), but they just plain weren't selling anything I wanted to buy this time around.
  • morello159 - Friday, January 29, 2021 - link

    My Pixel 4a creaks when you squeeze it near the power button, and the haptic buzz rattles the case. Kind of a bummer - otherwise, not a bad phone for the price. Definitely slower on a daily basis than my old OnePlus 6T, but it also works most of the time, unlike that phone.
  • abu3rab - Tuesday, February 2, 2021 - link

    Thanks for this Best post
  • abu3rab - Tuesday, February 2, 2021 - link

    Thanks for this Best post
  • Findecanor - Wednesday, February 3, 2021 - link

    It's not actually a small phone though. This was considered medium only a few years ago.

    Manufacturers are only increasing the size of their mainstream to fit a larger battery for 5G.
  • mrbofus - Thursday, February 4, 2021 - link

    "hey have the same SoC, the same camera system, the 4a 5G actually gains a 3.5mm headphone jack, and only trades in the 90Hz screen and IP68 water resistance in return, for only $499."

    Don't forget that the Pixel 5 also has more RAM and wireless charging. For me, the better screen, more RAM, bigger battery, water resistance, and wireless charging are worth the extra $100-$200.
  • RobJoy - Thursday, February 11, 2021 - link

    Why do they even bother selling this piece of crap if it is priced as top mid range on Snapdragon 888?
    THIS phone is worth $250-$300 MAX.
  • HaRd2BeAr - Sunday, April 18, 2021 - link

    Be interested to see an updated mini review since the March Kernel and April GPU boost and how they feel performance is now. Cheers.

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