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Pixel 5 will be slower than the Pixel 4

Published May 21st, 2020 6:50AM EDT
Pixel 5 Specs
Image: Zach Epstein, BGR

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  • Pixel 5 specs leaks claim the phone will not feature the same high-end Snapdragon 865 processor that powers the Galaxy S20 and OnePlus 8.
  • The Snapdragon 765 will not just be inferior to the iPhone 12 when it comes to performance, but it’ll probably be slower than the Pixel 4’s Snapdragon 855.
  • This might be the first new Google phone that’s not better in every way than its predecessor, and the first not to deliver better performance.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

The Pixel 5 will be disappointing to fans looking forward to a brand new premium Pixel phone, and that’s something we keep hearing from people familiar with Google’s plans. Even at $699, the Pixel 5 might be too expensive, considering that it won’t actually rock the best mobile chip that Android phones can get this year. That means the Pixel 5 overall performance won’t be on par with the Galaxy S20 or the OnePlus 8, and any other phone featuring the Snapdragon 865 processor. For that reason, it will be slower than the iPhone 11 (and the iPhone SE), and the upcoming iPhone 12. But you know what’s even worse? From the looks of it, the Pixel 5 will be slower than the Pixel 4, and that should really put things in perspective.

Apple was criticized for years for reusing the same iPhone design over and over. The 2014 iPhone 6 received tiny tweaks for the iPhone 6s to prevent it from bending. The iPhone 7 came without a headphone jack, and the iPhone 8 had a rear glass panel to support wireless charging. But every single one of them was more powerful than their predecessor. And that design strategy, combined with Apple’s massive economy of scale, allowed Apple to come up with a $399 iPhone that’s a nightmare for Android and Google. But imagine how much flak Apple would have gotten if any of these devices turned out to be less powerful than their predecessor?

Over on the Android side, hardcore fans have been mocking the iPhone for years for not measuring up to the latest Androids. The iPhone had less RAM, less storage, no support for expandable storage, and fewer megapixels. Some people would even compare the number of CPU cores on iPhone compared to Android. Yet the iPhone was always faster than its rivals thanks to the supremacy of the A-series chips over Qualcomm coupled with Apple’s iOS optimizations. That was something Android fans were not able to change.

The tune seems to be changing now that it’s becoming clear that the Pixel 5 won’t have top specs. Android Central penned a post titled Going cheaper with the Pixel 5 may be Google’s best chance at finally selling phones, and that’s probably true, suggesting that Google can afford not to care about specs:

The Snapdragon 765G is no slouch, even if it isn’t Qualcomm’s biggest and best platform — and it includes 5G connectivity, too. Chances are most people wouldn’t have any idea they were using a “cheaper” processor, and Google’s never been one to chase specs or benchmarks with its phones in the first place — just look at the lower-than-most RAM and storage in every Pixel (and back to the Nexus) release. There’s far more to a phone than the individual spec sheet line items, and so long as the performance holds up — as it has in my experience with the Pixel 4 — there should be little to worry about.

That’s also true, specs aren’t everything to Google. But they are to a specific set of Android buyers who criticize the iPhone for not packing the best possible specs.
The Snapdragon 765 will not be a slouch indeed, but considering what we know so far, it’ll be slower than last year’s Snapdragon 855 flagship chip that powered the Pixel 5.

Not too long ago, I told you how the iPhone SE will mop the floor with the Pixel 5 when it comes to speed. I used Geekbench 5 benchmark results for a bunch of processors to make that point, including the A12 (iPhone XS), A13 (iPhone 11/SE), Snapdragon 865 (Galaxy S20/OnePlus 8), Snapdragon 855 (Pixel 4/Galaxy S10) and Snapdragon 765G (Pixel 5/Motorola Edge/LG Velvet).

Geekbench 5 scores: iPhone XS vs. iPhone 11 Image source: Geekbench

The Motorola Edge, announced a few weeks ago, rocks a Snapdragon 765G chip with a 5G modem onboard. This is a 7nm octa-core chip featuring a 2.4GHz Kryo 475 Prime core, one 2.2GHz Kryo Gold core, and six 1.8Ghz Kryo 475 Silver cores, as well as an Adreno 620 GPU.

Geekbench 5 scores: Galaxy S20 vs. iPhone 11 Image source: Geekbench

The Pixel 4 phones’ Snapdragon 855 comes is also a 7nm chip, featuring eight cores: one 2.84GHz Kryo 485 core, three 2.42GHz Kryo 485 cores, and four 1.78GHz Kryo 485 cores. Also included is an Adreno 640 GPU.

Geekbench 5 scores: Pixel 4 vs. iPhone 11 Image source: Geekbench

The advantage the 765 chips have over the 865 is that the cheaper Snapdragon comes with a built-in 5G modem, whereas the Snapdragon 865 requires a separate 5G modem.

Geekbench 5 scores: Motorola Edge vs. iPhone 11 Image source: Geekbench

Here’s are the single-core scores for all these chips, as captured a few weeks ago (screenshots above):

  • iPhone 11 and iPhone SE: 1288
  • iPhone XS: 1114
  • Galaxy S20 5G: 868
  • Pixel 4: 711
  • Motorola Edge: 505

In the multi-core department, the Snapdragon 865 comes on top:

  • Galaxy S20 5G: 3045
  • iPhone XS: 2818
  • iPhone 11 and iPhone SE: 2630
  • Pixel 4: 2438
  • Motorola Edge: 1410

Here’s a brand new comparison between the Motorola Edge and the Pixel 4 XL. The scores are even better for both handsets, but it’s absolutely clear that the Snapdragon 765 series is no match for last year’s Snapdragon 855:

Geekbench 5 scores: Motorola Edge vs. Pixel 4 Image source: Geekbench

I know what you’re thinking. Is the Snapdragon 765 more powerful than the Pixel 3’s Snapdragon 845? Yes. Barely:

Geekbench 5 scores: Pixel 3 vs. Pixel 4 Image source: Geekbench

The Pixel 5 could score even higher thanks to Google’s various optimizations. And Google might choose the newer Snapdragon 768 version of the chip for the Pixel 5. But if all these benchmark figures hold up, the phone will be slower than the Pixel 4. At best, it will match the Pixel 4’s performance. Most people who want a cheaper Google flagship and don’t care about specs will absolutely not care about these benchmarks. But this performance downgrade is something that many Android users, including Pixel device buyers, will notice. Not to mention that upgrading from the Pixel 4 or Pixel 3 might not feel like an upgrade.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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