Google Pixel 6 Pro-slow?

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: Acht High-End-Smartphones im Test | heise online )

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 @thurrott '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 1744).

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.

(For clarity, I also posted this post over at

I’d be interested to see what @ronxo @ohthatflo and @JasonHowell have to say on the matter.


I never did understand how the precise speed of the phone CPU matters. You can only type and consume so fast. It’s not like you’re forcing the phone to produce data so fast that you’ll have a life crisis if it’s not as fast as possible. (It’s not, say, actually driving your car, or flying your plane.) It only ever shows in benchmarks, and benchmarks don’t matter to real life. I’ve never once used a phone and thought “oh crap this is so slow, how does anyone stand it”. What are you doing if you care if some app takes an extra .001 second to complete its task?

There are some tasks, such as video and photo editing, which more and more people do on their phones, at least in a limited capacity that needs higher (burst) performance.

I agree, benchmarks, as such, are academic. Especially with the rest of the Android flagships, as I listed, they are all within a rounding error of each other. But the test show that the Tensor seems to be a middle-class processor at best. Given it is the USP for Google’s new flagship phone for 2022, it seems like it is a valid question to ask, did they release it too early? Should they have refined it more and tested it internally, until its performance level was on a par with the existing chips?

Or are Google aiming for the mid-range segment with their flagship Pixels?

They are too expensive for mid-range, but the processor isn’t competitive with the rest of the high-end devices. The Pixel seems to sit in no-man’s land, and there are cheaper flagships with faster processors (Realme).

They are also having a lot of problems with the Pixel 6 (Pro) and the December update was pulled and they didn’t get the January update either, that will come 2 - 3 weeks later than the older devices.

Is it teething problems with the Tensor that is causing the delay or are there other problems with the handset as well?

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There’s a whole industry looking slightly miffed in your direction right now. How dare you - heresy! :wink:

This is precisely what I think about 5G: the best thing about it is that phones’ batteries need to be competitive with 5G on, which means that if you turn it off and go for 4G, you get a lovely battery upgrade with no noticeable broadband downgrade.

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Well I’ve never had a Nexus/Pixel that DIDN’T have a fatal flaw (that ultimately bit me and moved me on), so I am not expecting the Pixel 6 Pro to be without some obnoxious future failing. But I have to say, for as little as I expect from a phone, it’s been great for me for the month I’ve had it. I’ve had a few times when it seemed to hiccup, but I just assume that is related to Android 12 weirdness that will work itself out. I REALLY miss the back fingerprint reader of my Pixel 2XL but I don’t find the in screen one to be as obnoxious as some others have. It’s just a .25 second slower than you wish it would be, but if you adapt you expectations, it’s fine. It’s too expensive for what it is, but that is par for the course in high end smartphones. But as far as processor speed is concerned, that is definitely not something I’ve noticed or cared about. My friend, when he first saw me using it, said “oh wow, it has a high refresh rate screen” and I was like “huh wut?”. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

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I definitely prefer a quicker phone. Have a Pixel 3a, 4 and S20 here and the S20 is noticeably faster. It’s not just typing and consumption. Switching apps, opening the camera, editing pics. All this is quicker and a nicer experience on the Samsung.

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Sure, if the comparison is slow vs fast. But the comparison is not that. It’s like 95 vs 100 or something that is not generally noticeable. Different people have different thresholds I’m sure, but the Pixel 6 Pro is in no way noticeably slow to me nor to anyone I have shown it to.

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Agreed. I was thinking about me recently deciding between the 4XL and S20FE. Not too far apart spec-wise, Pixel has older Snapdragon, same RAM. I suspect the 1080p display and faster UFS storage on the Samsung make the biggest difference.