I was reading an article in the current c’t magazine. They did a head-to-head between the top Android handsets and the iPhone 13 Pro Max in the latest issue.
(Available in German, behind the heise+ paywall: https://www.heise.de/tests/Acht-High-End-Smartphones-im-Test-6307517.html )
They compared the “highend” smartphones – i.e. high end processors, not just high end prices, the cheapest was the 400€ Realme GT 5G, which still has the high end Qualcomm chip. They also included 3 phones which had their own custom designed CPUs, the iPhone, with its Apple A15 Bionic, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, with its Samsung Exynos 2100 and the Pixel 6 Pro, with the Google Tensor SoC.
There was no real surprise that the A15 ran rings around the Qualcomm and Samsung chips. (Geekbench 5, it was over 60% faster than the other phones). The only real weakness was in 3D gaming, where most of the competition beat it for playing time (only 11.8 hours, compared to 12-15.8 hours for the others, with the Galaxy winning that round.
What was a shock was just how badly the Pixel did. It came bottom in every performance test, by a big margin, and it only beat the Sony Xperia Pro-I on YouTube playback time (13.9 hours as opposed to 9.3, but the rest were all over 15 hours, with the Apple and Samsung pushing the 20 hour mark). It also reflected Paul’s experience, with charging, coming bottom of the pack by a margin of over 30 minutes!
On Geekbench 5 single core, the Pixel managed 928 points, with all the other Androids around the 1100 point mark (the iPhone was the leader at 4717).
The multicore test, the Pixel managed 2505, the other Androids all between 3400 and 3700 points (the iPhone walked away, again, with 4717).
3DMark Wild Life, the Pixel waddled across the line with 4311 points, the Android rivals with 5700-5800 points (the iPhone, again, with 9737).
If we ignore the Apple results, it is a totally different processor running a different OS, so there are too many factors to make a 100% accurate comparison and is not why I was surprised by the results, the real surprise is just how poorly the Google flagship performs, compared to its rivals using the same platform.
It came bottom in every test, usually by a very wide margin (all the other Android phones were within rounding errors of each other on performance). This seems to indicate that the Google Tensor SoC really isn’t ready for primetime at the moment. It is a first generation product from Google, but even so, if it compares so poorly to the SoCs it is trying to replace (Qualcomm Snapdragon and Samsung Exynos), should Google have held it back another generation, or do they really need the real-world feedback on its daily performance?
Would it have made more sense to test it internally, with employees, until they had a competitive product? Will it hurt the Pixel’s reputation? (Does it still have much of a reputation outside of die-hard Google fans any more, anyway?)
The phones in the test were: Apple iPhone 13 Pro max, Asus Zenfone 8, Google Pixel 6 Pro, OnePlus 9 Pro, Realme GT 5G, Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, Sony Xperia Pro-I and Xiaomi 11T Pro.