System Performance

One aspect Google Pixel devices have always excelled at is performance. With every generation, Google had opted to customise the BSP stack and improve on Qualcomm’s mechanisms to be able to extract as much performance out of the SoC as possible. In recent years these customisations haven’t been quite as evident as QC’s schedulers became more complex and also more mature. The Pixel 4 again makes use of Qualcomm’s scheduler mechanisms instead of Google’s own Android Common Kernel. The Pixel 4 also arrives with Android Q which is one of the very few devices in our testbench which comes with the new OS version.

We’re testing the Pixel 4 at three refresh rate settings: the default 60Hz mode, the automatic 90Hz mode, and the forced 90Hz mode. As with the OnePlus 7 Pro earlier in the year, we’re expecting to measure differences between the different display modes.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Web Browsing 2.0

Starting off with the web browsing test, we’re seeing the Pixel 4 XL perform quite averagely. The odd thing here is that it’s showcasing worse performance and scaling than the Pixel 3 last year in all but the forced 90Hz mode. It’s also interesting to see how the forced 90Hz mode is able to post an advantage over the regular 90Hz mode even though the content of the benchmark doesn’t contain anything in particular that would have the automatic mode trigger to 60Hz.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Video Editing

In the video editing test, which isn’t all that significant in terms of its results, we do however see the differences between the 60 and 90Hz modes. Again, it’s odd to see the 60Hz mode perform that much worse than the Pixel 3 in this test, pointing out to more conservative scaling of the little CPU cores.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Writing 2.0

In the Writing test which is the most important sub-test of PCMark and has heavier workloads, we see the Pixel 4 perform very well and is in line with the better Snapdragon 855 devices out there.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Photo Editing 2.0

The Photo Editing scores of the Pixel 4 are also top notch and the best Snapdragon 855 device we have at hand.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Data Manipulation

The data manipulation test is another odd one that I can’t really explain it performs better on the forced 90Hz mode over than the automatic 90Hz mode.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Performance

Finally, the Pixel 4 ends up high in the ranks in PCMark, really only trailing the Mate 30 Pro.

Speedometer 2.0 - OS WebView JetStream 2 - OS Webview WebXPRT 3 - OS WebView

In the web benchmarks, the Pixel 4 performs quite average to actually quite bad, compared to what we’ve seen from other S855 phones. I’m really not sure why the degradation takes place, I’ll have to investigate this more once I have another S855 with Android Q.

Performance Conclusion

Overall, performance of the Pixel 4 is excellent, as expected. The big talking point here isn’t really the SoC or Google’s software, but rather the 90Hz screen of the phone. It really augments the experienced performance of the phone, making it stand out above other 60Hz phones this year.

That being said, unlike last year, I can’t say that the Pixel 4 is amongst the snappiest devices this year as that title was already taken by the new Huawei Mate 30 Pro with the newer generation Kirin 990. Unfortunately for Google, performance of the Pixel 4 will be a rather short-lived selling point as I expect the competition (which don’t already have the feature) to catch up with high refresh screens, and also surpass the Pixel as the new generation Snapdragon SoCs are just a month away from launch.

Introduction & Design GPU Performance


View All Comments

  • LiverpoolFC5903 - Wednesday, November 13, 2019 - link

    Please do not regurgitate unfounded "views" as a fact. The 'new' Nokia has a significant number of people from the 'old' Nokia and is 100% Finnish. This allegation of being a chinese shell is laughable. If you are referring to Nokia phones being manufactured in China, ahem, even Iphones are manufactured in China. As are hundreds of other brands... Reply
  • Spunjji - Monday, November 11, 2019 - link

    Pretty sure their bigger problem was being tied to a Microsoft OS. Reply
  • milkywayer - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

    The battery is so terrible that I have the 90hz feature and the hand gesture thingy turned off on my 4XL. Frankly some Google execs need to be in jail for bundling such a terrible battery with a $1000 phone. It should be a crime in 2019 for what they offer for the price tag. Since Ive left Apple, they probably caught the lazy fewks at Google off guard. What a year! APPLE bundling a bigger battery and improved battery life than any one else. Reply
  • s.yu - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

    A LIVE user!
  • milkywayer - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

    Not sure what you're attempting but if you're gonna post a comment, stick to the topic. There's already enough meaningless spam to go around in the internet. Reply
  • s.yu - Saturday, November 9, 2019 - link

    What I mean is somebody reading Anandtech actually buys this crap. The specs and pricing alone should be ample deterrent. Reply
  • milkywayer - Saturday, November 9, 2019 - link

    I was going to cancel my ore order. I got mine for $300 off by chance so I took it. I think it's every bit worth the $650ish incl tax i paid for the XL. Googles problem is they are pricing these as iPhones but have cut so many features. I'm sure with the ass kicking they've received now for the pixel 4 at least next year the pixel will have a bigger battery. :D Reply
  • s.yu - Sunday, November 10, 2019 - link

    If $650 inc. tax also covers warranty then...I suppose it's still up for consideration, just not for many here who don't want to put too much personal data on clouds because of the puny storage. Reply
  • Spunjji - Monday, November 11, 2019 - link

    At that price it's a reasonable phone. Marginally worse hardware than the competition, better software support.

    Shame they actually don't sell it for that, otherwise I'd consider buying one!
  • chrnochime - Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - link

    They will just mess up something else next year. They just can't compete at this price level with the seemingly half-baked products they release. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now