Phone Efficiency & Battery Life

While not directly released to the Google Tensor, I also finished running the various battery tests for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, and there are some remarks to be made in regards to the power efficiency of the devices, and how the new SoC ends up in relation to the competition.

As a reminder, the Pixel 6 comes with a 4614mAh battery and a 6.4” 1080p 90Hz OLED screen, while the Pixel 6 Pro features a 5003mAh battery and a 6.71” 1440p 120Hz OLED display, with variable refresh rate from 10-120Hz.

Web Browsing Battery Life 2016 (WiFi) 60Hz

Starting off with the 60Hz web browsing results, both Pixel phones end up extremely similar in their longevity, at 14 hours runtime. The regular Pixel 6 is hard to compare things to as we don’t have too many recent phones with 90Hz displays in our results set, however the Pixel 6 Pro should be a direct comparison point to the S21 Ultras, as both feature 5000mAh batteries and similar display characteristics. The P6Pro here ends up slightly ahead of the Exynos 2100 S21 Ultra, which might not be too surprising given that the Tensor chip does end up at somewhat lower CPU power levels, even if performance is lower. It’s still quite behind the Snapdragon 888 variant of the S21 Ultra – which is again quite representative of the SoC efficiency differences.

Web Browsing Battery Life 2016 (WiFi) Max Refresh

Running the phones at their respective max refresh rates, both devices see larger drops, however the Pixel 6 Pro especially sees a more substantial hit. This time around, the 6 Pro ends up significantly behind the Exynos 2100 S21 Ultra, which had only a minor drop in the 60 -> 120Hz results.

PCMark Work 3.0 - Battery Life (60Hz)

Shifting over to PCMark at 60Hz, we see that there’s a larger difference in favour of the Pixel 6, as the Pixel 6 Pro ends up behind it in longevity by almost two hours. The 6 Pro still ends up in line with the E2100 S21U, however that device showcases significantly higher performance numbers in the test, which acts both as a performance metric for device responsivity as well as a battery life test.

PCMark Work 3.0 - Battery Life (Max Refresh)

At 120Hz, the 6 Pro ends up worse than the E2100 S21U, and quite worse than the S888 S21U.

When I was investigating the phones, the 6 Pro’s power behaviour was quite weird to me, as I saw best-case baseline power figures of around 640mW, and sometimes this inexplicably would also end up at 774mW or even higher. What this reminded me of, was the power behaviour of the OnePlus 9 Pro, which also suffered from extremely high baseline power figures. Both the 6 Pro and the 9 Pro advertise themselves as having LPTO OLED panels, but both of them very clearly do not behave the same as what we’ve seen on the Note20Ultra or the S21Ultra phones. The 6 Pro also only goes up to up to 750 nits 100% APL peak brightness in auto-brightness mode under bright ambient light, which is significantly lower than the S21U’s 942 nits. I think what’s happening here is that the Pixel 6 Pro simply doesn’t have the most state-of-the-art display, and thus is quite less efficient as what we find on the competition. It does kind of make sense for the price-point of the phone, but also explains some of the battery behaviour.

Naturally, the Tensor SoC also just doesn’t appear to be as efficient. Particularly many UI workloads would be run on the A76 cores of the chip, which just outright have a 30% perf/W disadvantage. The phone ends up OK in terms of absolute battery life, however performance metrics are lower than other devices.

I think the regular Pixel 6 here is just a much better device as it doesn’t seem to have any particular issues in display efficiency, even if it’s just a 1080 90Hz panel. There are naturally experience compromises, but it’s also a $599 phone, so the value here is very good.

US readers who are used to Qualcomm phones might also encounter efficiency regressions when under cellular data – we abandoned doing testing here many years ago due to the impossible task to get consistent test environments.

Google's IP: Tensor TPU/NPU Conclusion & End Remarks


View All Comments

  • TheinsanegamerN - Tuesday, November 2, 2021 - link

    Not cheap, just poorly designed. Too much focus on magic and not enough on the fundamentals of a good chip design. Reply
  • Alistair - Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - link

    cheaply made, i mean, with a CPU with A76 cores... lol... Reply
  • tuxRoller - Tuesday, November 2, 2021 - link

    All companies other than those that Apple need should just admit defeat and give themselves over.
    Just needed to be said.
  • TheinsanegamerN - Tuesday, November 2, 2021 - link

    The rest of the world is not america. Without america apple is a tiny minority of devices. Reply
  • Alistair - Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - link

    ? seriously? Apple is dominant in Japan, Taiwan, and a gazillion other countries Reply
  • icedeocampo - Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - link

    last time I checked there were just 195 countries Reply
  • Alistair - Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - link

    you know hyperbole right? your response is not an argument... Reply
  • ss91 - Thursday, November 4, 2021 - link

    You both are wrong. Yes, it’s true apple is not the majority device supplier. Yes, it’s also true that apple is far far ahead.

    But what is wrong is that

    1. @TheinsanegamerN : Where apple doesn’t dominate, they are predominantly lower segment markets where avg smartphone price is far below the cheapest iPhone.

    Apple sells more iPhones than Samsung sells Notes (RIP), S series and fold/flip. Samsung sells overall more phones because they operate in price segments all the way from $200 to $2000 while apple starts $400.

    You can be sure that SE Asia, S.America and Africa uses androids, but it’s also true that these androids are far from the bleeding edge flagships.

    2. @tuxRoller : Competition is important. If Samsung won’t team up with AMD, Adreno and Mail will become complicit. If Tensor doesn’t outperform ML tasks, exynos and Qualcomm won’t innovate there. If apple won’t have started the 64bit and Custom CPU race, nothing would be same today.
  • tuxRoller - Friday, November 5, 2021 - link

    Sorry for the bit of trolling, but, to be clear, that was trolling. I wasn't being serious. Reply
  • aclos3 - Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - link

    I am really happy with my Pixel 6 pro so far. Above all, I want my phone to have a really excellent camera and every new mid to high end phone now is plenty fast for just about any use. I bet the Pixel 6 takes much better pictures than whatever "trash" you are using. But you sure have them beat when it comes to the benchmarks I bet. Reply

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