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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  • Ananke - Wednesday, January 27, 2021 - link

    $700 is a lot of money without the corresponding value.
    In this regards "value for money" is iPhone SE for $400
  • otonieru - Sunday, January 24, 2021 - link

    It would be stupid to pay $700 for this specifications.
  • dontlistentome - Sunday, January 24, 2021 - link

    Wife an I both have Pixel 5s to replace Samsung S8s. Perfect for what we needed - smallish, not too bothered about mega res screen, good battery, google sw, waterproof, wireless charging and the front camera was about as unintrusive as they get nowadays.
    On launch in the UK the phone was £600 but they bundled Bose QC35II headphones. Quick bit of ebaying netted £150 so the phones were a much more acceptable £450 (having said that, they gave the phones with the 4a too...).
    Overpriced? Probably, but we paid for the lack of irritations and for those 3 or 4 features we'd got used to.
  • eclectech - Sunday, January 24, 2021 - link

    I read this whole review on my Pixel 5. Fortunately the phone didn't consume a lot of power while doing it.
  • Billjriv - Sunday, January 24, 2021 - link

    Just buy the phone with an already cracked screen that way you save 2/3rds the cost it's like buying a Mustang from Copart
  • Peskarik - Monday, January 25, 2021 - link

    This phone is not worth upgrading from my Pixel XL which is why I did not upgrade.
    Put a better processor in it, put 3.5mm jack back in, put a good battery - I will buy.
    Take Google camera and put it into a Sony Xperia 5II phone (you can take 5G out, for what I care) - I would buy that.
  • Zan Lynx - Monday, January 25, 2021 - link

    I bought a Pixel 5 when it came out. I wanted the 5G and my older Pixel 3 XL was getting old and scratched up.

    I love the battery life. With my usage it can make it through almost two days without a charge.

    The 90 Hz update was new to me and I really like it. When scrolling it feels so much better.

    I haven't noticed any speed problems on web pages. They all seem fast enough for me. The sites that are slow are also chunky and slow on my Ryzen 5950X desktop, so the problem there really isn't with the phone. It's with the web developers.

    I think it is about the same as the Pixel 3 but I also like the charge time. 30 minutes on the USB-C cable and it is up to 80%. With the great battery life that's enough for the rest of the day.
  • johnmartin123 - Tuesday, January 26, 2021 - link

  • johnmartin123 - Tuesday, January 26, 2021 - link

    I brought this phone few weeks ago and I have to say this one is far better than pixel 4 because the battery runtime is much better, the speed is better and I'm experiencing the best with the phone. I've a business in social media management Alexandria and I do most of my work with this phone. check our website.
  • zsdersw - Thursday, January 28, 2021 - link

    Google's UI on the Pixel phones is far superior to all other makers' UI skins, and that overcomes all of the idiotic "concerns" made in this article.

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