OnePlus admits throttling common apps to save battery life

 GeekBench describes the behavior as "normative manipulation"

OnePlus admits throttling common apps to save battery life

OnePlus has confirmed that it deliberately reduces performance in "many of the most popular apps" in order to improve battery life in the latest OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro phones. The problem arose after testing by Andrei Frumusanu of Anandtech, who described the situation as "somewhat confusing" after discovering slowdowns in a wide range of notable apps from the Google Play Store.

Anandtech's conclusion is that OnePlus "blacklists popular apps away from the fastest cores, causing typical workloads like web browsing to slow down." The site tested Chrome and Twitter's performance extensively, but concluded that the slowdown "pretty much applies to everything with any level of popularity in the Play Store." It is said to cover all Google apps, all Microsoft Office apps, all prominent social media apps and web browsers, although some complex games like Genshin Impact are not affected.

Some phone manufacturers have been caught in the past artificially boosting performance so that their devices run unreasonably fast in standards. This is not exactly what is happening here. While the benchmark apps appear to be performing within expectations, the performance of the "normal" apps has declined. However, popular testing tool GeekBench describes OnePlus' approach as a "modular rig" and has removed the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro from its Android benchmark scheme.

OnePlus confirmed to XDA Developers that this is an intentional behavior designed to improve battery life. This is the full statement:

“Our top priority has always been to deliver a great user experience with our products, based in part on acting quickly based on critical user feedback. After the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro launched in March, some users told us about some of the areas where we could improve devices battery life and heat management. Result To this feedback, our R&D team has been working over the past few months to improve hardware performance when using many of the most popular applications, including Chrome, by matching the application processor requirements with the most appropriate power.This has helped provide a smooth experience while reducing power consumption While this may affect hardware performance in some benchmarking applications, our focus as always is to do what we can to improve device performance for our users.”

OnePlus' statement indicates that performance is only affected by benchmarking results, which is basically the opposite of what Anandtech found. Unless, of course, the intended user experience is that the most popular apps are slowed down, and the "impact" on benchmark results is higher than it should be.

Please note that performance adjustments may not make a significant difference to the overall user experience. "I wouldn't blame anyone if they didn't necessarily notice the inconsistency in performance - I didn't notice it immediately after adjusting the device's very slow momentum-pass speed," Frumusanu wrote. “However, having it alongside a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra or Xiaomi Mi 11 (Ultra) and paying attention, I often notice that the OnePlus 9 Pro is less responsive.”

What is clear is that OnePlus is taking an unusual approach to power management on the 9 Pro - Frumusanu says it "definitely represents the first case of a supplier implementing a standard application and discovery in this way" - and it's something you might want to be aware of before dropping money on the latest version of company.

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