The early promise of OnePlus phones was peak performance for a modest price. In modern years, the beloved Smartphone brand has become increasingly expensive. Furthermore, the power-per-dollar isn't too dissimilar to phones within their price range.
In the company's latest controversy, OnePlus has been found to be limiting performance on their latest devices. While absent from benchmark software, real-time usage of 300 popular Android apps has been found to be throttled in new updates.
OnePlus throttles performance and manipulates benchmarks
In a report by AnandTech, it was discovered that the OnePlus 9 dramatically throttles the performance of popular apps. For example, Google Chrome was limited to only using the phone’s Cortex-A55 cores instead of having access to the more powerful A78 and X1 cores. This saw a performance hit as hard as 85%.
The report states that the company blacklists popular applications that could use the extra horsepower. However, unknown apps are given full performance access as they aren't known to the OEM. Even worse, apps designed to measure performance, such as GeekBench, are always given full performance to cheat benchmarks.
In response, GeekBench banned the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro from ranking in the benchmark charts. Currently, all of the OEM's devices are being reviewed by the company. GeekBench said:
“We view this as a form of benchmark manipulation."
They admit to cheating
In a statement to XDA developers, OnePlus admitted locking performance on certain apps. Despite the phones launching without locked performance, the company claims they've limited app access for a better user experience.
“Our top priority is always delivering a great user experience with our products, based in part on acting quickly on important user feedback. Following the launch of the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro in March, some users told us about some areas where we could improve the devices' battery life and heat management. As a result of this feedback, our R&D team has been working over the past few months to optimize the devices' performance when using 300 of the most popular apps, including Chrome, by matching the app’s processor requirements with the most appropriate power. This has helped to provide a smooth experience while reducing power consumption. While this may impact the devices' performance in some benchmarking apps, our focus as always is to do what we can to improve the performance of the device for our users.”
The company's statement doesn't touch on the most pressing, ethical issue. The changes made to the company's smartphones were done without announcement, only after the review period sang their praises. In many ways, it’s the same as Apple slowing down old iPhones. However, Apple slows down phones years after the fact, not mere months.