Huawei & Honor’s Recent Benchmarking Behaviour: A Cheating Headache

When we exposed one vendor, it led to a cascade of discussions and a few more articles investigating more vendor involved in the practice, and then even Futuremark delisting several devices from their benchmark database. Scandal was high on the agenda, and the results were bad for both companies and end users: devices found cheating were tarnishing the brand, and consumers could not take any benchmark data as valid from that company. Even reviewers were misled. It was a deep rabbit hole that should not have been approached – how could a reviewer or customer trust what number was coming out of the phone if it was not in a standard ‘mode’?

So thankfully, ever since then, vendors have backed off quite a bit on the practice. Since 2013, for several years it would appear that a significant proportion of devices on the market are behaving within expected parameters. There are some minor exceptions, mostly from Chinese vendors, although this comes in several flavors. Meizu has a reasonable attitude to this, as when a benchmark is launched the device puts up a prompt to confirm entering a benchmark power mode, so at least they’re open and transparent about it. Some other phones have ‘Game Modes’ as well, which either focus on raw performance, or extended battery life.

Going Full Circle, At Scale
So today we are publishing two front page pieces. This one is a sister article to our piece addressing Huawei’s new GPU Turbo, and while it makes overzealous marketing claims, the technology is sound. Through the testing for that article, we actually stumbled upon this issue, completely orthogonal to GPU turbo, which needs to be published. We also wanted to address something that Andrei has come across while spending more time with this year’s devices, including the newly released Honor Play.

The Short Detail
As part of our phone comparison analysis, we often employ additional power and performance testing on our benchmarks. While testing out the new phones, the Honor Play had some odd results. Compared to the Huawei P20 devices tested earlier in the year, which have the same SoC, the results were also quite a bit worse and equally weird.

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