Early benchmarks for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro showed The Android flagship GPUs scoring the highest
It's only been a day since the launch of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, and so far, the impressions are pretty good. This is a good thing for Google, as their phones have tended over the years to be less impressive to the flagship phone review crowd. It's not that they're inherently bad, it's just that they all have some obvious problems that users have to look back and decide to buy a phone with the vaunted Pixel camera.
This time, the Pixel 6 Pro, in particular, doesn't have much to complain about. The product quality, screen, aesthetics, feel, speakers, battery life, and camera are superb, and I can't complain. On top of that, both phones are Pixel, which means they'll get Google's version of Android, longer update times, and an overall software experience that's better than other Android phones.
But what about performance?
If you check performance benchmarks like Geekbench 5, you'll see that the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro aren't the fastest phones in terms of processor speed. They fall between the Snapdragon 865 and 888, even though the core layout is a bit stronger. Using two larger Cortex-X1 cores instead of a single X1 set up in 888, you'd think the tensor would have more raw power. I have a hunch that Google might control the top speed of the tensor to give better battery life and avoid overheating issues. I hope over time we'll see both the Pixel 6 and The Pixel 6 Pro get a little more horsepower out of them.
Geekbench does not test GPU performance well. For this, other benchmarks are much more useful. We think the tensor will probably surpass the Snapdragon 888 in absolute speed (because of that core configuration) and I freely assume the GPU will struggle to keep up with Qualcomm's Adreno. Google chose the Mali GPU among the tensors, trailing Adreno in most benchmarks. But not tensors.
On the contrary, the GPUs in Tensors seem very powerful. Thanks to some benchmarks posted on Reddit, we know -- at least on paper -- that Tensor's GPU looks up to the task of a modern flagship smartphone. And it didn't just get the job done: It scored higher than all of its Android peers. In the photos below, you'll see the results of devices for tensor, Snapdragon 888, Kirin 9000, and Exynos 2100 soCs.
As you can see, tensors are beating all the major Android soCs in the market, though not a slaughter. For me, it was a big surprise and I was very happy. Similarly, the core architecture of a tensor SoC has all the necessary capabilities to make it very, very fast. Concerning GPU performance, I think it's safe to say that tensors are capable of competing at the highest levels.
Does that mean the Pixel 6 is the fastest phone on the market? Not true. The benchmark can only give us a guide to the maximum power of the equipment. While the processor benchmarks mentioned above did not achieve class-leading performance, I don't think we have seen the full power of tensors. With a few tweaks to the underlying software, I expect the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro to get faster over time, and it looks like the hardware is already capable of supporting whatever Google chooses to do in the coming months. Ideally, tensors can improve performance even better under load. The horsepower is here. Now it's up to Google to let the horses run.