I’ve already written my fair share of stories about Google’s Tensor chip, made in partnership with Samsung…
In summary from the previous summariesit’s pretty clear that Google is resorting to making Tensor chips with Samsung because it’s more cost effective than buying from Qualcomm, but also because it gives Sundar Pichai & Co more control over what the final SoC would be able to do (better). In Google’s case, the Tensor’s focal points are AI and machine learning — parts of the SoC that enable super-smart features like dictation, real-time translation, the Google Assistant (and all the amazing support it provides), and even the handy Magic Eraser trick that lets Pixel users erase strangers from their photos.
Thing is, with such a focus on optimizing Samsung-assisted low-cost Tensor chips, the Mountain View guys had to give up other things like pure processing power and the newly discovered efficiency that processors from Qualcomm bring to the table.
The bad news”? If you’re choosing between the cheaper Pixel 7 and the upcoming (more expensive) Galaxy S23, the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset won’t make your choice any easier!
The good news? The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 will provide Samsung (and not only) flagship phones with a really strong selling point over the Tensor G2, as this chip now seems to make phones like the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro look… mid-range!
Power over brains or brains over power?
Older Samsung phones are already faster than the Pixel 7; Snapdragon 8 Gen 2-powered Galaxy S23 could make Google’s flagship look like a true mid-range phone
Google is already behind Samsung in terms of processing power…
If we compare Samsung’s current flagship, the Galaxy S22 to Pixel 7we would see that the two are not far apart when it comes to CPU benchmarks (Geekbench 5):
- Galaxy S22 scores around 1,150 points in single-core (simple tasks) and 3,300 points in multi-core performance (more demanding tasks)
- Pixel 7 scores around 1,050 single-core points and 3,250 multi-core points
To Google’s credit, the Tensor G2 powering the Pixel 7 surpasses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 when it comes to GPU power. The most demanding 3D Mark Extreme tests tell us that the The Pixel 7 (1,850 points) outperforms the Galaxy S22 (1,600 points) by around 15%.
So, yes – Samsung’s former flagship phone still trumps the Pixel 7 series when it comes to raw CPU performance, but really, not that much…
- Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1-powered Galaxy Z Flip 4 scores nearly 4,000 in single-core and around 1,300 in multi-core tests
- This means that Qualcomm’s mid-cycle SoC refresh scores almost 19% better than the Pixel 7 and Tensor G2 in both single-core and multi-core CPU tasks, which is not a trivial lead.
Flagship or mid-range? Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 could change the way we view Pixel 7 and Tensor
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 benchmarks don’t give Google’s Pixel 7 a chance – image courtesy of Ben Sin.
However, where it gets a little ugly for Google and the Pixel 7 (of course, processor-wise) is when you look at the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which runs all of the Tensor G2 and the rest of the competition (apart from Apple A16 Bionic).
Unlike a week ago, we now have very real Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 benchmark results, thanks to the iQOO 11 flagships made by Vivo, which became the first internationally available Android phones with the new Qualcomm SoC. generation !
- The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 powering the iQOO 11 and expected to feature in all Galaxy S23 models globally scores a whopping 1,500 single-core points in CPU performance and nearly 5,000 in multi-core!
- Again, the Pixel 7 and Tensor G2 score 1,050 single-core and 3,250 multi-core, meaning the iQOO 11 and Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 blow through Google’s flagship, surpassing it by 42 % in single-core tasks and 53% in multi-core – a difference we usually only see when comparing flagship phones to mid-range phones (2020, 2021 and even 2022).
It is important to note that the The Galaxy S23 series should feature an overclocked version of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 (for now, no rumors are coming about other Android 2023 flagships). This means that (technically) the Galaxy S23 could easily outperform the iQOO 11 and thus leave the Pixel 7 and Tensor G2 further behind!
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 also brings faster storage than the Pixel 7
The Antutu scores (CPU, GPU, RAM test) for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 also leave the Tensor G2 in the dust:
- iQOO 11 scores about 1,273,000 in Antutu
- The Pixel 7 scores around 813,000, down 34%
As indicated by Antutu’s scores, the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 will also come with faster RAM than its predecessors and, respectively, the Tensor G2. Indeed, unlike older phones, the new Qualcomm chip will now boot UFS 4.0 storage, resulting in a noticeable increase in read/write speeds over the older UFS 3.1, found in the Pixel 7 and all others. Android phones in the market so far. .
Without going into the heart of the matter (in which even I am lost), the S23’s UFS 4.0 RAM is claimed to consume 46% less power than UFS 3.1 while delivering 2x performancewhich looks very promising, and plays an important role in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 benchmark scores.
The Pixel 7 lags the Galaxy S23 in software updates that can affect long-term performance; Android’s “default” flagship might not be that “default” after all…
The Pixel 7 only offers 3 years of Android updates…
Processing power is clearly going to be the Achilles heel of the Pixel 7 series compared to the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Galaxy S23, S23+ and S23 Ultra. However, there’s another crucial area where the Galaxy continues to dominate the Pixel, and surprisingly or not, it’s software updates. Frankly, I was almost convinced that Google would feel more generous and start giving users at least 4 years of Android updates and 5 years of security support with the launch of the Pixel 7, but that’s not the case. Instead, Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro will get 3 years of OS updates and 4 years of security support – just like last year’s Pixel 6 series.
Samsung, on the other hand, has really stepped up their software update game lately, and there’s no reason the Galaxy S23 series shouldn’t continue that tradition, which means they should give you 4 years of operating system updates and 5 years of security support. The South Korean company is also much faster in delivering these updates (although, of course, not as fast as Google – the main source).
The fact that Google is falling behind other Android phone makers like Samsung and OnePlus in the (crucial) area of software support is frankly difficult to understand because… Google makes Android! And the Pixel! And Samsung and OnePlus don’t.
More concretely, if I picking between the Pixel 7 and the Galaxy S23 (watch out, we still haven’t seen Samsung’s phone perform across the board), I think I’d bet on the Galaxy! At least if I know I will keep the phone as long as possible (4-5 years).
Would you accept?