Technology

OPPO Phones Delisted For Benchmark Cheating: Was It Needed?

Oppo find x phone
Image Source: UL Benchmarks (screenshot)

Many big smartphone makers have been caught cheating lately, including big names like Samsung, HTC, OnePlus and Huawei. Now one more name has been added to this growing list, and that name is Oppo.

OPPO Find X phone delisted

Oppo has been caught cheating by reporting misleading scores to UL Benchmarks, the company behind 3DMark. As a result, UL Benchmarks delisted the Oppo F7 and the Oppo Find X phone. UL Benchmarks revealed that both phones tweaked their performances to get a 41% higher score on the 3DMark app.

UL Benchmarks tested the performance of the Oppo F7 and the Oppo Find X phone after a request by the technology website Tech2. The company then used a private version of its 3DMark app to uncover the flaw. Prior to the delisting, the Oppo Find X phone was ranked fourth on the list of the Best Smartphones for 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme performance.

“The difference in scores tells us that the devices are simply recognising the 3DMark app by name rather than adapting to the type of work in the test. This kind of detection and optimisation is forbidden by our rules for manufacturers,” UL Benchmarks said.

In a separate statement, Oppo admitted that its smartphones can identify benchmark apps and adjust their performance accordingly. Further, the Chinese firm noted that in the case of unknown apps, the system is trained to use the default power optimization strategy.

Further, the phone maker noted that the system limits the performance to 70% to 80% of the maximum power if a user is inactive for five to 10 seconds. Once the user is active, the system cancels the performance limit to ensure the user gets the best experience. However, Oppo adds that it will work to improve the system.

“At the same time, we are working on upgrading the system, and strive to distinguish between the requirements of undetected apps or the subjective needs of users,” the Chinese company said.

Huawei did something similar

Huawei was also caught cheating by UL Benchmarks last month. At the time, UL Benchmarks used the same method as for the Oppo phones to prove the cheating. UL tested Huawei phones on both the public and the private versions  of the 3DMark app.

Since the test results varied dramatically between the two apps, UL accused Huawei of including a hidden “performance mode” that boosts the phones’ performance for specific apps. UL also delisted four Huawei phones: the Huawei P20, Huawei P20 Pro, Huawei Nova 3 and Honor Play.

In its defense, the Chinese company said the performance spike is due to innovative technologies such as AI used by Huawei to optimize the phones’ performance in certain situations. However, if that were the case, the phones should have given the same results when running the public and private versions of the 3DMark app. Huawei added that in the future, it would make the “Performance Mode” in EMUI 9.0 more open. This will give users the option to decide when they want a boost in performance.

“Huawei respects consumers’ right to choose what to do with their devices,” the smartphone maker said.

How important are benchmark scores?

Given the number of companies that have been caught tweaking their phones’ benchmark scores, a big question that arises is why they are doing so. A simple answer to this could be smartphone makers’ needless obsession with benchmarks.

It is pretty difficult to quantify the performance of a smartphone, but benchmarks scores are seen as the best way to do so. Such scores help smartphone makers tout how their product is better than those from the rivals or show how they have improved performance compared to the earlier-generation phones.

Though it makes sense, it is not wise to depend on such scores for a purchase decision. The benchmark apps test the phone under intensive workloads which the average smartphone user rarely achieves. Thus, a higher benchmark score does not necessarily mean any one phone is better than the others. It is imperative that users understand the scores in the correct way and evaluate phones on the basis of user experience and whether or not it fits their needs.