Google started off the week with its release of Android 5.1. While the latest version of Android tweaked a lot of little things that bugged us about earlier Lollipop builds, introducing new features and changing the way others worked. But more than all that, what owners of certain devices have been noticing is a big boost in performance. Nexus 6 users have been reporting that their phones feel a lot more speedy after upgrading to 5.1, and now we have a better sense as to what’s going on, as Google changes the way the phone’s multi-core SoC works.
The Nexus 6 runs a quad-core Snapdragon 805. It used to be that the chip would selectively control how many cores it was running based on demand. With Android 5.1, the Nexus 6 is in full quad-core mode all the time. Google also has disabled a “boost” mode that fiddled with clock speed when switching tasks between cores, and while that sounds like it would hurt performance, it may just save enough battery life to balance out any losses from the phone’s new full-quad-mode operation.
Beyond that, further optimization to the ART runtime sure doesn’t seem to be hurting things any. All these changes taken together, you should notice a much smoother user experience on the Nexus 6 after installing Android 5.1 – while not killing your battery in the process.