OnePlus admits throttling popular app performance to save battery life

Geekbench calls it "a form of benchmark manipulation".
Geekbench calls it "a form of benchmark manipulation" Photo credit: Getty Images

Mobile phone manufacturer OnePlus has confessed to reducing the performance of popular apps in order to improve battery life on its OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro phones.

The admission comes after Andrei Frumusanu of AnandTech, a review website, found some strange results while benchmarking the performance of the phone.

The results he saw while testing the Snapdragon 888 processor were incomparable to the results observed with other devices containing the same processor.

In particular, he noted, Chrome suffered from "extremely weird behaviour", an indication it was being forced from using the processor's faster cores.

"We have detected that OnePlus is blacklisting popular applications away from its fastest cores, causing slow down in typical workloads such as web browsing," he wrote.

"This is perhaps to improve battery life at the expense of performance, but it does mean that the regular benchmark results are somewhat useless for user experience."

Subsequently Geekbench - which provides benchmarking software used to directly compare performance of hardware - to ban the devices from its charts, calling the process "a form of benchmark manipulation".

It also said that other OnePlus phones would be reviewed to see if they also manipulated performance.

In a statement OnePlus confirmed it lowered the performance of apps in order to continue "delivering a great user experience".

"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," it said.

"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."

This means that apps only started being throttled after the phone had been released and reviewed - meaning users may be getting a different experience to that which they might have expected.

"I wouldn’t blame anybody if they hadn’t necessarily noticed the performance discrepancy," Frumusanu wrote.

"I hadn't immediately noticed it myself beyond the devices' extremely slow momentum scrolling speed setting. However, having it side-by-side to a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, or a Xiaomi Mi11 (Ultra) and paying attention, I do very much notice that the OnePlus 9 Pro is less responsive."