Google's Pixel Battery Compared to Nexus Smartphones

Google Pixel XL Hands On AH 17

Redditor, TyGamer125, has pieced together a table showing the relative claimed battery life of Google’s 2015 smartphones, the Google Nexus 5X and Google Nexus 6P, together with the 2016 Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL. The table, which you can see at the bottom of this article, shows that the Pixel family of devices have better quoted battery life compared with the outgoing Google Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P devices, and that depending on the model and how the device is being used, the difference is significant. However, before we start looking at the data, it’s important to remember that benchmark battery life figures should be considered unrealistic for almost all people, almost all of the time. These battery life statistics were achieved under ideal conditions, which typically means that all unused applications, services and radios were disabled or shut down during the test. Nevertheless, some metrics show a significant improvement in battery life and it’s the improvement that’s important here rather than the actual quoted battery life.

With that out of the way, let’s look through the data and we’ll take a look at the modem efficiency, because the Pixel and Pixel XL appear to have significantly more efficient modems compared with the outgoing Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P. Standby time is up from 8.6% to 25.5%, depending on the model. This in itself is interesting and some of this can be explained by the Nexus devices being tested on Android 6.0 Marshmallow and the Pixel devices being tested on Android 7.0 Nougat, with its improvements to Android Doze, although the handsets would be tested with minimal application load and so very little for the operating system to put into a doze. However, there are significant improvements for talk time: for the Nexus 5X to the Pixel, the improvement is from 20 hours to 26 hours, or a 30% improvement in talk time. The Nexus 6P shows an even greater improvement as it’s up from 23 hours to 32 hours, or 39.1%. For those of us who talk on our smartphones, the Google Pixel family of devices show much better talk times.

For many of us, Internet use is key to our smartphones and here we see another improvement between the devices. Over LTE, the Pixel posts a massive 62.5% improvement over the outgoing Nexus 5X, managing 13 hours of browsing compared with 8 hours for the Nexus 5X. The Pixel XL shows a still-impressive 40% improvement, moving from 10 hours to 14 hours. The story is similar over Wi-Fi, with both devices showing a steep improvement in claimed battery life. Finally, for media, where we might reasonably expect steep improvements, both devices benefit. The Nexus 5X’s LCD panel is considered to be less efficient at video compared with the new AMOLED panel for video playback, and the improvement is a respectable 30% – perhaps a little disappointing compared with the improvement in browsing. The Nexus 6P to Pixel XL shows a 40% improvement in video playback. For audio, here the newer generation Google ‘phones can benefit from the improvements to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 compared with the Snapdragon 808 and 810 for the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P respectively: we see the Pixel showing a 46.7% improvement in music playback time and the Pixel XL showing a 30% improvement to 110 and 130 hours respectively.


Why are the Google Pixel devices showing such a healthy improvement in battery life? There are a few factors, which we’ve already covered: moving to an LCD could explain some of the Nexus 5X to Pixel’s battery life improvement, but it’s also possible that Google are using a more modern AMOLED panel with greater power efficiency. Furthermore, the Pixel is gaining a newer generation chipset compared with the 2015 Google Nexus devices, which is more efficient. However, as stated at the start of this article, the real test of the Pixel’s battery will be when the devices arrive in customer hands rather than using dry benchmarks. Still, it’s looking good so far.