While Google’s April software patch for Pixel phones is technically listed as a security update, it actually contains a number of improvements such as upgraded image quality when snapping pics with select third-party camera apps, better support for VPNs, and bug fixes to prevent some Pixels from freezing during startup. However, the most important changes in this patch for Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 owners are new “performance optimizations for certain graphics-intensive apps and games.”
That’s because, after updating the Pixel 5 with the latest software, we saw benchmark numbers in 3DMark’s Sling Shot Extreme graphics test increase between 30% and 50% or more depending on the settings. When I tested back at launch, the Pixel 5 scored 2,674 on 3DMark’s Sling Shot Extreme Unlimited test, but after the update benchmark scores rose to 3,514, which equates to an improvement of just over 30%.
These figures mirror similar results posted by Andreas Proschofsky from Austrian newspaper Der Standard, with some other reviewers claiming graphics performance has doubled in certain circumstances.
Now, for some, it may be quite frustrating to learn that their phones may not have had access to their “full” performance at launch, though in my experience, the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G never really suffered from weak performance or lag even while gaming.
But to me, the real takeaway is the huge impact software updates can have on modern devices, which makes it increasingly important to regularly check for updates and install them in a timely manner. That doesn’t mean you need to install updates on day one, but at the same time, there aren’t a lot of good reasons to ignore that icon in your notification tray for weeks or months at a time.
Regardless, Google’s April software updates for its Pixel phones have delivered some notable boosts in performance for the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G, which is something that’s always nice to get.