Earlier this year, the clever folks over at XDA Developers found that the OnePlus 3T was effectively gaming benchmarks in order to garner a better overall score for itself, with the Meizu Pro 6 Plus also doing something similar.
It was deemed that both were activating a performance mode of sorts, clocking their chips higher in order to get a better benchmark score when the most popular benchmarking apps were used.
Now, it seems that the latest phone from OnePlus, the OnePlus 5 does the same kind of thing with the same kinds of results. According to XDA Developers, the OnePlus 3T was increasing the frequency of its CPUs when it detected that a benchmark app was being run, allowing it to get as much performance out of them as possible.
Last time around, OnePlus introduced changes to the behavior of their ROM whenever it detected a benchmark application was opened. Such application names were explicitly listed by their package IDs within the ROM in a manifest that specified the targets.
Then, the ROM would alter the frequency in relation to an adjusted CPU load — our tools showed CPU load would drop to 0% regardless of obvious activity within the application, and the CPU would see a near-minimum frequency of 1.29GHz in the big cores and 0.98GHz in the little cores.
According to XDA Developers, the OnePlus 5 handsets being sent out to reviewers takes cheating up to eleven, maximizing benchmark app results, and affording the device extremely positive reviews for its raw speed.
The OnePlus 5, on the other hand, is an entirely different beast — it resorts to the kind of obvious, calculated cheating mechanisms we saw in flagships in the early days of Android, an approach that is clearly intended to maximize scores in the most misleading fashion.
Where we stand on this issue is perhaps controversial. Where XDA Developers clearly believes that OnePlus is cooking the books here, we think that all it is doing is ensuring that its chips are running at their optimal frequency when a benchmark is being run. Considering the fact that benchmarks are supposed to tell us how fast things are capable of working, does it not make sense that chips should be running full bore when a test is in progress? OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei clearly agrees, writing on Reddit in response to the furore.
We have made it so that when running benchmark apps, the phone performs the same as when running resource intensive apps such as 3D games. We also fully activate our chipset in other parts of OxygenOS, for instance when launching apps to make the launch experience faster and smoother.
We are not making it easier for the chipset to perform, for instance by changing to a lower resolution when detecting a benchmark app. We are not changing the performance of our chipset, for instance by overclocking it.
Based on that, we find ourselves wondering why all smartphone manufacturers don’t do the same. In fact, why is it even required – should the benchmark tools not push the devices to their limits anyway? Are benchmark scores being run on other devices simply incorrect, and lower than they should be?
Something for you to ponder! Let us know your thoughts on the matter.
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