Google Tensor G2 needs to work on efficiency

Google’s next Pixel finally has a release date. the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro will debut on October 6and them bring Tensor G2 chip along with them While the first generation of Tensor left a lot of room for improvement, this time it is energy efficiency and heat generation that needs more attention.

The original Google Tensor chipset was Google’s first mobile chip, and it put on quite a show at first. It is true that Google’s design was heavily based on Samsung’s Exynos basebut the company’s choice to focus on AI strength over raw performance clearly didn’t affect the final package.

But over time, it becomes clear where Google’s chip is struggling to keep up with the competition.

In my own experience, I’ve had very little to complain about with Tensor, at least until I upgraded to the Galaxy Z Fold 4, which really put the Tensor issues front and center. My Pixel 6 Pro ran head to head with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and its Snapdragon 888, and I could really barely tell the difference in everyday use with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 on the Galaxy S22 series. There are a few hiccups here or there, but overall, I was very happy with it.

The two things I’ve really felt though have been heat and battery life.

During the months that have elapsed since our Pixel 6 Pro review, I have noticed that the battery life has been reduced quite a bit. Where it could last a full day at launch, the Pixel 6 Pro feels like it constantly needs a charge at dinner time every day, especially if I’m spending a lot of time on a cellular network instead of just using Wi-Fi. A big culprit in battery drain is the modem, which has been shown to be well behind the competitionand it seems to absorb more energy to maintain its signal.

Another side effect of Tensor deficiencies is heat. While it wasn’t much of an issue during North Carolina’s fall, winter, and spring, the summer heat really showed how much the Pixel 6 Pro struggles to stay cool. Every time I was out in the sun, keeping my phone cool was harder than keeping myself cool. I would often place the phone next to a bottle of water in my bag when playing disc golf just to keep it from overheating. And there were too many times that I noticed the Pixel getting hot to the touch, to the point where I could feel the heat through my pockets while walking on a hot day.

That heat really stood out compared to every other phone I’ve tried during the summer months. The OnePlus 10T stayed consistently cool, as did Samsung’s latest foldables, and even my Fold 3 from last year managed to never get as hot as the Pixel did in recent months.

oneplus 10t and pixel 6 pro
Even in the dead heat of New York in August, the OnePlus 10T stayed cool

Tensor seems to be the biggest culprit here since, generally speaking, the processor is the part of a phone that generates the most heat. Dissipation is the key to keeping a phone cool, but other chips have improved their overall efficiency to reduce that heat generation in the first place.

Of course, Google can’t do much to solve these problems. Much of the blame lies with the Samsung foundry that produces the original Tensor chip and will continue to produce the Tensor G2.

As proof of that, we can look at a couple of places. For one thing, Exynos chips have been linked to heat issues in the past. the The Exynos variant of the Galaxy S20 Ultra had a lot of overheating issuesand devices in that same era even led fans to request to Samsung to stop using the chips.

Also, Qualcomm showed how much of a difference a chip can make when it’s made by Samsung or the other major player, TSMC. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 was produced under the direction of Samsung and was overall a pretty solid chip. But just a few months later, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 arrived on the scene and it was a massive improvement across the board, despite being pretty much the same chip on a design level. The biggest gain was with battery life, thanks to better power efficiency, which Qualcomm says could increase overall endurance by around 30%. based on our time with the Galaxy Z Fold 4which has the same battery size and pretty much the same screens as the Fold 3, all signs certainly pointed to Qualcomm’s chip being the main improvement for the foldable’s strength, and it really all came down to the switch to building a lot more efficient from TSMC.

In reality, Google is likely years away from coming close to what Qualcomm has achieved. Not even MediaTek, which uses the same TSMC production as Qualcomm now, can fully match a top-tier Snapdragon. Also, Tensor “G3” is already rumored to be in the works with Samsung still in foundation.

But still, it’s clear to us that this is one of the biggest areas where Google needs to catch up. The Pixel 6 series pretty much matched the Snapdragon-powered flagships in terms of day-to-day performance, but ongoing issues with heat and battery life really dampen the experience. Tensor G2 is the first step in Google’s opportunity to close the gap.

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