Performance cheating or battery optimization? Oneplus 9 Pro throttles hundreds of apps

All Google apps as well as those from Facebook, Youtube, Snapchat, Zoom and Co run far too slowly on the smartphone flagship from Oneplus. Observers have another explanation beyond energy conservation.

The Experts from the Anandtech platform encountered very strange behavior of the Oneplus 9 Pro (Test). Some apps run as slowly as on ten-year-old cheap smartphones, others just as fast as on other Snapdragon 888 flagships. They delved deeper into the system to explain the differences. Your conclusion is shocking.

Between performance cheating and battery optimization

Performance measurement is one of the main disciplines of technology geeks. They compare benchmarks and their own app measurements in order to obtain a picture that is as realistic as possible. When testing the Oneplus flagships, the values ​​did not match: Oneplus keeps popular applications away from its fastest cores, which results in up to four times lower performance. In conventional benchmarks, however, the device works as one would expect with this configuration. The authors write: “It’s so unusual and amazing that it really blurs the lines between battery optimization, performance cheating, and general misrepresentation of device specifications.”

Processes kept away from performance cores

According to the analysis, benchmark programs and unknown apps get their full performance. Most of the most popular non-benchmark apps, however, throttle the system significantly. The bottom line: “This means that the regular benchmark results are pretty much useless to the user experience.”

The first thing we noticed was the behavior of the Chrome browser: In the first run, the Speedometer benchmark only achieved a value of 61.5. The explanation is that the phone only runs the benchmark on the Cortex 78 cores and not the Cortex X1 performance core. In addition, the system reduces their frequency from 2.41 to 2 gigahertz. With an immediate repetition, it even only used the smallest cores of the Cortex-55 type and achieved a benchmark of a staggered 16.8.

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Performance like a cheap device from 2010

The performance dropped noticeably, especially when displaying Internet content via the corresponding Webview library. The specialists succeeded in persuading the Oneplus Pro to activate the Cortex-X1 for their content only with unknown web programs and only after reinstalling them. In all other cases, the numbers portrayed the Oneplus 9 Pro as “an early 2010s budget device with terrible performance”.

Geekbench bans Oneplus 9 from the catalog

In the course of the investigation, the testers found that the operating system recognizes and throttles certain apps. If the Geekbench benchmark test is masked as a Chrome app, for example, the values ​​drop by 20 percent. The operator of the performance platform threw out the Oneplus 9 and Oneplus 9 Pro after these tests. Due to the differences that the system makes with the apps, the Anandtech authors interpret the phenomenon as a “misrepresentation of device performance and not as a general optimization of energy efficiency”.

Blacklist shows the who’s who of the apps

A look at the corresponding frameworks shows an astonishing picture: The performance limitation affects almost every popular app – from Zoom to Whatsapp, Tiktok, Instagram, Snapchat and Youtube and practically all Google apps to Oneplus’ own apps and system settings. The review speaks of hundreds. The author of the test writes that in view of this it would be impossible for him to realistically quantify the Oneplus 9 Pro’s performance.

Oneplus admits manipulation

The XDA portal eventually received a Manufacturer’s opinion. Based on user advice, the aim was to improve the battery life and the thermal management and to “optimize” the performance of the devices when using popular apps. That helped to provide a smooth experience while reducing power consumption at the same time. This representation contradicts the fact that the “strange behavior” of the devices was already present when they were launched, as early reviews prove. In addition, it does not explain why only certain apps are affected and why this mechanism is hidden deep in the system, writes the Anandtech editor in conclusion.

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