Well, this shocking development might hit you square in the face but it’s actually true. Two uber-popular Chinese hardware giants, OnePlus and Meizu, have come under fire for cheating on the benchmark tests for Android smartphones. This was initially discovered by Mario Serrafero of XDA Developers, who took notice of some strange behavior in the smartphones of these brands. The OnePlus 3T and Meizu Pro 6 Plus were then found using underhand techniques to boost the performance of the device while running specific apps.
Serrafero first suspected OnePlus of using such techniques to rig benchmark tests while using Qualcomm’s Trepn Power Profiler and Snapdragon Performance Visualizer to monitor chip performance on the OnePlus 3T. He realized that the device would adjust the clock speed for running certain apps. But, it later came to light that this phenomenon was being exhibited when one would certain apps, especially benchmark ones.
After discovering the strange benchmark results, XDA developers approached the software company behind Geekbench — Primate Labs to further analyse the issue at hand. And this is what was discovered while rigorously testing the two phones.
Firstly, it was noticed that OnePlus 3T’s both the small cores and big cores were ideally operating at 0.31 GHz. Such was the case when you opened any app and closed if after sometime. But, the phone continued to operate at the higher clock speeds even after closing certain apps. It was then found that the CPU is rigged to idle at 1.29 GHz for the big cores and 0.98 GHz for the small cores, even when those apps weren’t open. The smartphone was still operating at its highest capacity at this instant of time.
Thus, the duo of software teams were able to confirm that the OnePlus 3T had been coded to switch to loosened thermal restrictions targeting benchmark apps such as Androbench, AnTuTu, Vellamo, Quadrant, GFXBench, and Primate Labs’ own Geekbench. Talking about the same, the official blog post reads,
Our hypothesis was that OnePlus was targeting these benchmarks by name, and was entering an alternate CPU scaling mode to pump up their benchmark scores.
Additionally, XDA is of the opinion that it was originally a feature on Hydrogen OS and has now been ported to Oxygen OS as well.
We may literally fall short of words when describing the rigging mechanism being used by Meizu to cheat on benchmarking test, so bear with us. The Chinese phone maker is using different setting that have hard-coded in the software to cheat users depending on the app they’re using.
The Meizu Pro 6 Plus is powered by an Exynos 8890 processor and features two modes – Balance Mode and a Performance Mode. The hack is appalling and has been pushed out to users via a recent software update.
The phone usually operated at a sub-standard setting and switched gears when a benchmarking app was opened. The company has, however, now handed control of the said differential modes to the users themselves. It now prompts the users to turn on Performance Mode when they run a benchmarking app. This, thus, helped the company yield better results in the said tests. The Performance Mode wasn’t being used in everyday use. This development was first reported by AnandTech.
Once it was confirmed that OnePlus was using the said techniques to cheat on the benchmarking test, XDA reached out to the Chinese upstart. And this might come as an added blow but OnePlus admitted to the existence of this benchmark rigging behavior. In a statement, the company says,
In order to give users a better user experience in resource intensive apps and games, especially graphically intensive ones, we implemented certain mechanisms in the community and Nougat builds to trigger the processor to run more aggressively. The trigger process for benchmarking apps will not be present in upcoming Oxygen OS builds on the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T.