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

  • MooseNSquirrel - Sunday, November 17, 2019 - link

    Just when you think comments cant get any dumber, one gets proven wrong. Reply
  • MScrip - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

    -- "I dunno if they're smurfing to not upset their partners..."

    Their partners sell 300 million units a quarter or 1.2 billion units a year.

    Meanwhile... Google is lucky to sell 12 million Pixels the entire year.

    So I'm not really sure the partners are worried about the Pixel... :)
  • surt - Sunday, November 10, 2019 - link

    But the question is, would Google eat into partner sales if they made a good phone? Reply
  • MScrip - Sunday, November 10, 2019 - link

    Even if Google somehow quadrupled their sales... that's still a pitiful 48 million units per year.

    Samsung can sell that many in TWO MONTHS. And that is *just* Samsung.

    We haven't even mentioned Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo, and the countless other vendors who contribute to the 1.2 BILLION units sold per year.

    So I don't think Google can do anything to "eat into" partner sales. There's simply too many of them.

    Pixel 5 could be the greatest Android phone ever made... but it's not gonna put a dent in partner sales.
  • austonia - Monday, November 11, 2019 - link

    Pixel4-XL-128GB here. better compared to the iPhone Pro\XL, which is more expensive for models above 64GB, but then have more storage and extra camera.

    the Google hardware seems pretty serious to me. first non-Apple with real face unlock (Soli-accelerated), squeeze for assistant, 90hz amoled at 1440p, Pixel Neural Core, 6GB RAM, etc. but of course the main draw is software and integration... it just works, and more sensibly than iPhone, IMO.
  • Spencer1 - Sunday, November 17, 2019 - link

    I wish people would stop spouting this nonsense. Are we pretending the Huawei Mate 20 Pro with its full array of dot projected 3D facial scanning didn’t exist? Reply
  • 727200 - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

    Ouch. I really don't understand Google's approach with regards to the Pixel line, especially the 4. I can swallow the fact that it's not the most bleeding edge processor in lieu of decent software. But they really sold themselves short with the 4. Soli is half baked, so is the 90hz panel regulation, and then you double down by excluding a fingerprint reader? Oh, and ZERO headphone adapter? All for a flagship price?? It screams "me too" while implementing terrible differentiation (aside from the camera). I'll pass. Reply
  • ElBerryKM13 - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

    Apple releases devices with 64gb "Oh so innovative, what a company" Google pixes releases 64gb "device is stuck in the past" Reply
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

    "Unfortunately, the storage tiers this year also remain the same, at 64GB, 256GB and 512GB. I do find it extremely conservative of Apple to continue the 64GB base model given that the majority of the competition has switched over to 128GB as a minimum."
  • bji - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

    Why bother with evidence? Haters are gonna delude themselves into hating no matter the facts. Reply

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