Google's latest Pixel phones have the top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 mobile processor. But don't expect performance on the level of other leading Android smartphones, based on test results we've seen since the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL started shipping earlier this month.
To be clear, the Pixel 3 and 3 XL deliver solid performance in everyday use, and we found the phones to be capable performers during our testing. But the Pixel 3 and 3 XL come up short of other phones in benchmark tests, including devices that are powered by the same Snapdragon 845 chipset.
Let's start with Geekbench 4, which measures general performance. When we tested Google's new phones, the Pixel 3 XL scored a 7,684, while the Pixel 3 came in at 7,316. Those are good numbers, which are 16 to 22 percent faster than what we saw from the Snapdragon 835-powered Pixel 2. More importantly, the new Pixels' outperformed the Galaxy S9 (7,276), which like the Pixels runs on a Snapdragon 845 and features 4GB of RAM.
Other Snapdragon 845-powered phones did better, though, with the OnePlus 6 (9,088), Galaxy Note 9 (8,876) and LG V40 ThinQ (8,302) all besting the new Pixels on Geekbench. It's no coincidence that all three of those phone have at least 6GB of RAM — and the OnePlus model we tested actually came with 8GB.
|Phone||Geekbench 4 Result|
|Pixel 3 XL||7,684|
|Galaxy Note 9||8,876|
At this point, it's not worth dwelling too much on benchmark comparisons with the iPhone. We've already established that the A11 and A12 Bionic CPUs that have powered Apple's phones the last two years outperform their Android counterparts, so the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL really don't approach the iPhone XS's 11,420 score on Geekbench 4.
3DMark Sling Shot Extreme
The Pixels do perform better on a graphics benchmark we use — 3DMark's Sling Shot Extreme test. Here, the Pixel 3 XL scored a 4,396 while the Pixel 3 tallied a virtually identical 4,400. Both phones bested the iPhone XS's 4,339 score, but the Note 9 (4,639) and OnePlus 6 (5,124) take the crown in this particular test.
|Phone||3DMark Sling Shot Extreme OpenGL ES 3.1 Result|
|Pixel 3 XL||4,396|
|Galaxy Note 9||4,639|
In one of our real-world tests, we have each phone convert a 2-minute 4K video file to 1080p. The Pixel 3 pulled off the task in 2 minutes, 53 seconds, nearly 30 seconds longer than it took the Galaxy S9+ to complete the job. The iPhone XS breezes through this test in 39 seconds.
Pixel 3 vs iPhone XS
Other sites conducting Pixel 3 tests are noting the big disparity between Google's new phone and Apple's latest iPhones. AppleInsider ran additional benchmarks including Geekbench's graphics test, Antutu's benchmark, Antutu's HTML 5 test, the Octane 2.0 browser benchmark and the GFXBench OpenGL 1080p Manhattan Offscreen test. The iPhone XS Max bested the Pixel 3 in all of those tests.
App Launch Times
Another issue that seems to have surfaced in Pixel benchmarking has been with memory management on the new phones. 9to5Google reports that a significant number of users are complaining about background apps being killed and issues with Spotify stopping music playback when you try to take a picture with the Pixel 3's camera.
While we haven't experienced these RAM issues ourselves, you can see memory management playing a role in benchmark tests conducted by EverythingApplePro, in an app-launching test. The iPhone XS Max breezes past the Pixel 3 XL in the first round of the test when opening apps for the first time. But the Pixel 3 XL also struggles in round 2, as many of the apps need to be reopened since they weren't kept running in the background.
If you're considering a Pixel 3 purchase, likely it's because of the phone's pure Android experience or its well-regarded cameras (which have beaten the competition in our other testing) and not because you need a phone that blows away its rivals on speed tests. Still, the performance gap between the Pixel 3 and other top flagship phones is worth noting. And we'll also keep monitoring reports of memory management issues with the Pixel 3 to see if Google ultimately issues a software fix.