They're (Almost) All Dirty: The State of Cheating in Android Benchmarks

Refreshing. That is what AnandTech's coverage of the mobile segment is. In fact, that is what most of their web coverage brings to the (e-)table. Judging by the replies we find in our "Meaningless award"-thread, a lot of people are sick and tired of media presenting products in the most positive light possible, ignoring some of the most obvious faults and issues. AnandTech however, calls out even the biggest of players in the mobile segment. Oh, so refreshing!

The story of the day is a continuation on the Samsung cheating scandal from a couple of weeks ago. In a short news article, AT points out that Samsung is not alone. In fact, many companies are involved with cheating the benchmarks. As Preetam from Nextpowerup writes: "Well, we aren't mad at you Samsung. In fact, companies like HTC, ASUS and LG were also caught cheating in benchmarks. The point is that we consumers would rather have your developers spend their time enhancing the functionality of the phone's software, bring new features, tweak existing ones and work towards providing an even better experience. This is instead of spending all those resources optimizing the SoC in the device to perform better in certain benchmarks to be able to score an edge over the competition in reviews. It's partly the fault of phone reviewers and their heavy emphasis on the mobile benchmarks which has forced OEMs to get to tuning, to be able to out-do phones from other manufacturers."

In the meantime, Samsung is trying to control the situation. After all, not only AnandTech is covering this issue, Arstechnica is in it as well. In a statement to CNET UK, Samsung defends the Note 3. It says, ""The Galaxy Note 3 maximises its CPU/GPU frequencies when running features that demand substantial performance. This was not an attempt to exaggerate particular benchmarking results. We remain committed to providing our customers with the best possible user experience."

I'd say this hilarious meme from Nextpowerup (below) sums it up quite nicely.

The conclusive lines of AnandTech's coverage makes all this also relevant to the industry we're mostly tied to. He writes,

"The hilarious part of all of this is we're still talking about small gains in performance. The impact on our CPU tests is 0 - 5%, and somewhere south of 10% on our GPU benchmarks as far as we can tell. I can't stress enough that it would be far less painful for the OEMs to just stop this nonsense and instead demand better performance/power efficiency from their silicon vendors. Whether the OEMs choose to change or not however, we’ve seen how this story ends. We're very much in the mid-1990s PC era in terms of mobile benchmarks. What follows next are application based tests and suites. Then comes the fun part of course. Intel, Qualcomm and Samsung are all involved in their own benchmarking efforts, many of which will come to light over the coming years. The problem will then quickly shift from gaming simple micro benchmarks to which "real world" tests are unfairly optimized which architectures. This should all sound very familiar. To borrow from Brian's Galaxy Gear review (and BSG): "all this has happened before, and all of it will happen again.".

Interesting note: Apple is apparently not cheating the benchmarks.


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