If you’ve been here for a while, you’ll know that I’m a sucker for FPS (first person shooter) games, and especially like the Team Death Match and Battle Royale genres. There’s no shortage of games that take full advantage of these features, and — unsurprisingly — I spend most of my gaming time on phones like PUBG New State, PUBG Mobile, Fortnite, and Call of Duty Mobile.
When news of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro starts to surface around the end of 2021, I’m very excited to see Google decide to use a set of CPU cores in the Tensor SoC that can be compared to the power and the power we got from Qualcomm and Samsung at the time. Graphics are present in the best chip you can get. While past Pixels have always been on the back end of a processor refresh cycle, Tensor makes me wish the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro would break out of that mode and become phone-driven tasks that are not only good at AI and ML, but also good at gaming and graphics. in this way.
Alas, no matter how many reviews I leave on the Google Play Store about different games, So far, developers haven’t been overly concerned about their games running well on Tensor SoCs, which is a pain. It’s a similar situation we’ve seen on Chromebooks, where there isn’t enough user volume to justify the time or effort required to optimize apps for a particular processor. Most games target Snapdragon chips and Apple’s mobile processors, and then move on.
For example, while PUBG Mobile is playable, you can’t turn on high frame rates on anything but the lowest graphics settings. PUBG New State is better, but there is a severe lag during matches whether the graphics are sped up or all the way down. Call of Duty is the best in the group, although some of the larger TDM and battle royale maps show serious lag when things get heated. It’s worth mentioning that my previous phone, the OnePlus 8T and its Snapdragon 865+ processor, never had any of these issues in these games. Obviously, this is an optimization problem.
Finally, we have a contender
However, with the recent launch of the long-awaited Apex Legends Mobile, things seem to have changed a bit. I don’t have technical confirmation on this, but I can tell you that the game runs like an absolute dream on the Pixel 6 Pro, and I’m very happy about it. As I like to try any game, I immediately went into the settings menu in Apex and cranked every setting to the maximum allowed, just to see where I started.
For the Pixel 6 Pro, that means everything but graphics quality is maxed out. It can be set to “Extreme HD” — a notch below the highest setting “Original” — which we found to be a limitation on all devices except the M1 iPad Pro in our office. This works fine for me. Extreme HD combines with Ultra Frame Rate, Adaptive Smoothing, Dynamic Shadows, Anti-Aliasing, Refraction Quality, Glow and Foliage settings to create an absolutely stunning look without stuttering or slowing down even once.
I’d expect apps on an iPad or iPhone to provide this smooth gaming experience, and I’ve even come to expect most phones to run on the latest Snapdragon SoCs. But I haven’t had that experience in my time with a Pixel 6 phone, and it’s great to see this hardware put to good use to make such a fun, engaging, and addicting game.
I really hope that with the Pixel 6a launching soon at a lower price, we’ll see Tensor in more hands, and app developers will take the time to make sure Pixel phones are fully functional. If any metrics Respawn has done with Apex Legends Mobile is any indication of what the Tensor is capable of, there’s plenty of horsepower under the hood. Now, forgive me, I still have some upgrades to do.