GPU Performance

GPU performance of the Pixel 3 should be relatively non-surprising for the most part – again we see the Snapdragon 845 at play and its Adreno 630 GPU should be performing excellently. This year the only real differences between devices was how vendors decided to set up their thermal throttling mechanisms and how the hardware itself is able to dissipate sufficient heat – as the SoC’s peak performance lies above the sustainable thermal envelope of a given device.

3DMark Sling Shot 3.1 Extreme Unlimited - Physics

In the 3DMark Physics test, the Pixel 3 performs as expected in peak performance, however we see a more than usual decline is sustained performance compared to other Snapdragon 845 phones. Here it is possible Google has more strict thermal limits on the CPU.

3DMark Sling Shot 3.1 Extreme Unlimited - Graphics

The graphics results on 3DMark are more in line with other S845 devices, still the small Pixel 3 does end up slightly lower in performance. It’s notable that the Pixel 3 here ends up with a lower sustained performance score as the Pixel 2 family – showcasing the worst-case scenario for the SoC.

GFXBench Aztec Ruins - High - Vulkan/Metal - Off-screen

GFXBench Aztec Ruins - Normal - Vulkan/Metal - Off-screen

In the new Aztec benchmark, the new GPU architecture does help quite a bit in terms of differentiating itself from last year’s Pixels, however still the Pixel 3 ends up at the lower end of S845 phones in terms of the sustained performance.

GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 Off-screen GFXBench T-Rex 2.7 Off-screen

Finally in Manhattan and T-Rex, the Pixel 3 ends up in the same ballpark range as last year’s Pixels – again a worst-case scenario for the new SoC.

Among Android devices the Pixel 3 doesn’t stand out too much from the competition, however is still going to be able to perform very well. One has to keep in mind GPU and gaming performance is very much tied to the hardware capabilities, and in this regard we’ll see major jumps with the next generation GPUs.

System Performance Display Measurement
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  • s.yu - Thursday, November 15, 2018 - link

    You're looking at this wrong, *flash*, not night sight, should be the last resort. On axis flash is almost always ugly and detrimental to what you're trying to capture, and severely interferes with post processing, night sight saves the need for flash, which is the way to go.
  • sarangiman - Thursday, November 15, 2018 - link

    "I’ve never really understood why people claimed the Pixel 2 camera to be good in low-light, because in my experience as well as visible in these sample shots, the Pixels were never really competitive and are outclassed by the better sensors from Samsung and Apple, when capturing in traditional modes."

    It's not that Samsung or Apple used 'better sensors', they just used longer exposure times (down to 1/4s), while the Pixel 2 would try to stick to 1/25 to 1/40s to avoid motion blur in human subjects, and only reluctantly dropping to 1/15s in very very dark situations.

    The reason many were impressed by the low light performance of the Pixel 2 was that it could retain good image quality in *less* low light (but still low light - such as indoors) conditions, while not having human subjects blurred. Also, iPhone motion estimation would jack up the shutter speed (to ~1/30s) when any movement was detected (human subject or shaky hands), and image quality would drop drastically, below that of the Pixel 2 (b/c it wouldn't also average as many frames as the Pixel cameras do). Things have improved with the XS.

    So it's a question of *how* low light of a scene are you interested in, and are you photographing human subjects or still scenes.

    Thanks for the review, very nice comparisons, and great work in particular with your display evaluation. It's irksome that despite having a proper CMS in the OS, every app appears to be rendering to sRGB. Google Photos app is even color profile aware, but converts images with ICC profiles (say: P3 or even ProPhotoRGB images) to sRGB for output (which means in 'Adaptive' screen mode, the sRGB output gets stretched, yielding oversaturated inaccurate colors). This just isn't how color management is meant to work - the CMS should take the embedded ICC profile and convert to the display profile.
  • makkumatr - Saturday, November 24, 2018 - link

    Love the detailed review, Andrei.
    Could you comment on the quality of the sound recording of the videos on Pixel 3, reading a lot of complaints on that.
  • ErikSwan - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    Andrei, thank you for the thorough review, especially the display section.

    Did you evaluate display uniformity at all? A lot of users (me included) are reporting a green-to-pink gradient across the display. It's very easy to notice with a gray background at low brightness levels in low to moderate light (think: using the phone in bed with only a bedside reading lamp illuminating the room). I'm curious whether only some devices are susceptible to this or if you noticed it on your Pixel 3 sample as well.

    Going forward, I would really like to see some measurement of uniformity included in display evaluations. If the dE at the centerpoint of the display is very low, that's great, but if the display isn't also uniform it can be a misleading indication of the overall quality of the display.

  • ducksu - Thursday, May 16, 2019 - link

    What's the best screen mode for pixel 3?

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