Google Pixel 5 gets a surprise upgrade with the April update

Google Pixel 5 GPU boost
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Google Pixel 5 isn’t the most powerful phone, but a new security update might have changed that. Updated Pixels now appear to have had a significant boost to their GPU performance.

The update won't make the Pixel 5’s Snapdragon 765G magically run as fast as the Snapdragon 888 or 865. But it does mean that the phone now performs a lot better than it originally did at launch. 

A lot of people noticed that the Pixel 5 underperformed at launch, even compared to other phones with a Snapdragon 765G chip. In our Geekbench testing we found that it had a multicore score of 1,617 points, which fell significantly short of a lot of 2020 phones. It’s even less than the 2,329 points scored by the Pixel 4.

But following the update it seems things have changed. Editors from Der Standard and Anandtech noticed a 30-50 percent increase in performance after the latest Pixel security update.

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According to Der Standard’s Andreas Proschofsky, the Pixel 5 scored 2278/2260 on OpenGL/Vulkan tests in 3DMark. After the update, those numbers rose to 3286/3083. That’s a very big change.

It’s not clear how such a big change happened after a security update of all things. Proschofsky speculates that the Pixel 5 may have been some performance throttling that has now been switched off. Unfortunately we don't have confirmation of that, or why the phone’s GPU performance has improved so dramatically.

The update’s changelog does mention “performance optimizations for certain graphics-intensive apps and games”, but it doesn't elaborate any further.

While the GPU boost is by far the most important part of this update, that’s not all the patch has to offer. Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G camera quality received a boost in “certain” unspecified apps. The patch also fixed a problem with all Pixel phones that caused the phone to freeze during startup, along with a glitch that previously caused the phone to appear offline while connected to a VPN.

But if you have a Pixel 5, make sure to update as soon as it rolls out to you. Boosted performance is always a good thing, especially when the boost is this big.

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.