The new OnePlus flagship killer isn’t just an iPhone 7 Plus clone, but it’s also a benchmark cheater. That used to be a common practice in the Android world, and even the most prominent handset makers out there were caught doing it. But that doesn’t mean a young company such as OnePlus should behave similarly in 2017. In fact, it appears that even a top Android engineer at Google is not happy with OnePlus 5’s benchmark optimizations.
It was xda-developers that discovered the OnePlus 5 was “grossly cheating” at benchmarks, and it was a piece of news that spread quite quickly. OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei then explained the matter on Reddit, saying that the OnePlus 5 does not cheat. Instead, the handset is optimized to deliver the best possible performance when benchmark apps are detected.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Pei continued, “When users run benchmark apps, which I agree aren’t a useful proxy for real life performance, we believe that they want to see the full potential of their device without interference from tampering. That’s what we’ve unlocked. Every OEM has proprietary performance profiles for their devices, I appreciate that we have a tech enthusiastic following, but feel free to have a look around. :)”
Smiley or not, this isn’t a good excuse. Cheating is cheating.
Tim Murray, who’s a senior Googler and lead engineer covering Android performance, called out OnePlus on Twitter, saying these performances tricks are “egregious.”
He followed up on that tweet with more explanations, noting that he personally told Android vendors not to engage in such practices, and yet OnePlus still did it.
As Pei says, fake benchmarks are not everything. But don’t trust the scores you see online for the OnePlus 5, because they’re not real.