Google’s latest generation Pixel smartphones are rewarding from many points of view. They don’t cost as dauntingly expensive as the Samsung or Apple flagships. You get a consistently impressive camera experience. Also, the software is pristine Android with loads of useful tricks.
Where the pixels falter is raw performance and some annoying chip-adjacent issues. It’s not even Google’s fault. But if you were hoping for a turnaround, you might want to revise your hope planning. According to The Information, the first fully customized chip from the Tensor division won’t arrive until 2025.
There were plans to introduce a fully self-designed Tensor chip codenamed Redondo in 2024, moving away from Samsung’s Exynos project. But due to conflicting priorities within Google’s engineering department, a completely self-designed Tensor chip dubbed Laguna won’t be introduced until 2025.
Assuming Google doesn’t change its mind and reimagine the branding efforts, you can pin your hopes for seemingly flawless performance on the Tensor G5 chip powering the Pixel 10 series in 2025. Pivoting would also be poetic with the first decade anniversary of the efforts. by Google Pixels.
Another interesting piece of information that could also prove to be a future problem for Google is the manufacturing technology update. The Tensor Laguna silicon will be based on TSMC’s 3nm manufacturing process, which theoretically means a big leap in performance and power efficiency over the 5nm-based Tensor G2 inside the Google Pixel 7 and its Pixel 7 sibling Pro. However, supply chain sources say Apple has hogged a lion’s share of 3nm chip orders, so there’s that bottleneck for Google to navigate.
Pixel phones have a performance issue
The Tensor processors inside the Pixel phones haven’t been really slow, at least for day-to-day tasks. But they’re not exactly top performers either. In fact, they tend to suffer from the same kind of performance pitfalls as the Exynos processors installed inside millions of Samsung flagships of the past.
Interestingly, Samsung itself has ditched the underperforming Exynos chips for its flagship phones. The Galaxy S23 series, for example, went all-in on Qualcomm processors and it worked. Community forums Reddit and Samsung have far fewer complaints about heating and throttling on Galaxy phones this time around.
What if we check the numbers? The Pixel 7 Pros Tensor G2 chip’s single-core Geekbench 5 benchmark figures are about 40 percent lower than the iPhone 14s’ A15 Bionic chip. But let’s stick to Android and reflect on Tensor’s shyness where it’s clearly evident.
Compared to the Galaxy S23 Ultras Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, the Pixel 7 Pro’s Geekbench 5 multi-core scores reach the 60% level. In the PCMark test, the Pixel 7 Pro is about 20% slower than an older generation Qualcomm flagship.
Moving on to the graphics department, the Galaxy S23 Ultras Qualcomm processor is over twice as fast as the Tensor G2. These are some not so subtle differences. That might be forgivable for the Pixel 7, a phone that costs $599, but for the Pixel 7 Pro, you deserve better for the $899 you invest in Google’s phone.
But it’s not just the performance gap that annoys. The Tensor G2 continues to lag, dropping to about 65% of its maximum performance under synthetic stress tests. But let’s get away from the benchmarks. Even I can live with slightly lower fps output in games.
But there are also some serious non-performance issues. The Pixel 6 had known heating issues. The Pixel 7 isn’t dramatically better. You can find Pixel 7 users complaining of random heating issues due to buckets. Check out some of the rants from irritated users here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Tensor G2 heats up while charging. Conversely, when it heats up, it also drains the battery at a faster rate. Some users say that browsing social media also raises the temperature. This is unacceptable, plain and simple!
Then there is some glaring problem with the Tensor silicon hooked connectivity modem. Check out some of the Wi-Fi, cellular, and Bluetooth connection issues that are making life more difficult for Pixel 7 users here, here, here, here, and here.
Hope, but far in the future
Look, I completely understand the argument that the Pixel doesn’t need fire-breathing silicon or two dozen gigabytes of RAM. It’s an AI-powered phone, so what it really needs is a powerful AI engine. But the Tensor already has one and does a great job.
What is undesirable is that my Pixel phone decides to overheat randomly and even in the most basic activities. I want my phone to do its critical job and allow me to have a smooth phone call without interrupting it multiple times.
These are the basic requirements of a phone. It has to do the phone stuff right. The Tensor chip doesn’t allow Pixel phones to be a phone. I can’t wait to see what Google can achieve without the looming specter of Samsung’s Exynos bankruptcies. It’s just a shame that we will have to wait until 2025 to experience the tensor revolution.
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