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Pixel 6 benchmark scores crush other Android flagships

Published Oct 27th, 2021 7:31AM EDT
Pixel 6 GPU Benchmarks
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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The Pixel 6 series is finally official, which means you can already buy the handsets in stores if you can find any stock. That also means Pixel 6 users have tested the handsets in the wild, and we already have reviews detailing the real-life experiences — here’s our Pixel 6 Pro review. Performance is probably one of the three things people want to test the most, with the others being the 120Hz display on the Pro and the overall camera experience. That’s because the Pixel 6 is the first Google phone ever to rock a custom Google chip. And also because the Pixel 5 was such a disappointment last year. It turns out that the leaked benchmarks were right when it comes to CPU speeds. But there is an unexpected GPU surprise.

The CPU performance

Pixel 6 benchmarks that leaked before Google’s launch event hinted that the Tensor SoC will have an unusual configuration. Google used two Cortex-X1 cores in the eight-core Tensor chip. That’s the most powerful Arm Cortex core right now. Chips like the Snapdragon 888 flagships only feature one Cortex-X1 core.

Despite that, the benchmark leaks showed that the Tensor would not outscore the Snapdragon 888 that powers phones like the Galaxy S21. Real-life tests showed that the leak was accurate. The Tensor can’t outperform the Snapdragon 888 in Geekbench 5 tests, something we’ve already verified during our review. In turn, this means the Tensor can’t touch the A15 Bionic inside the iPhone 13 series.

But it’s not like we expected Google to outperform Apple or Qualcomm with its first ever custom system-on-chip. Still the Tensor benchmark performance indicates that Google is indeed on the right track. And Qualcomm should be worried.

Pixel 6 GPU benchmarks

The real surprise comes from the Pixel 6’s GPU. The phone outscores every Android flagship in 3DMark Wild Life tests, including the Snapdragon 888. That’s something we verified during our review.

A Redditor who received the Pixel 6 early ran the test and published results online even before reviews came out. They showed that the Pixel 6 GPU does better in benchmarks than any other Android flagship you can buy today.

The Tensor GPU outscores the Exynos 2100, Snapdragon 888, and the Kirin 9000. The first two are the kind of SoCs that you’ll find inside Galaxy S21 handsets. The Kirin 9000 powers Huawei phones like the Mate 40.

That’s not to say that the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro should be the go-to phone for mobile gaming or graphics-intensive apps. And users might not even feel the difference in real-life usage. One reason for that is that most people do not own all the latest flagships to compare performance.

But Google’s accomplishment here is still worth noting. The Pixel 6’s Tensor can’t touch the iPhone 13’s A15, but the chip is still ready to offer a high-end Android experience. Again, this is Google’s first mobile chip.

We expect Google to continue to improve it to the point where next-gen Tensors can power laptops and tablets. That’s what Apple did with the A-series chips, turning them into formidable SoCs that can power high-end laptops. And it so happens that Apple made massive progress on the GPU side; just check out this M1 Max and M1 Pro review.

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.