Not long after the release of the Galaxy S4 earlier this year, Samsung found itself accused of artificially (and secretly) boosting benchmark scores on its flagship phone to ensure it would outperform the competition. Samsung outright denied that it had intentionally done so, but now the scenario is repeating itself with the release of the Galaxy Note 3. Ars Technica noticed the odd behavior while reviewing the device, and the details closely mirror those of the original controversy.
When running popular benchmark apps, Samsung's latest phone quietly enables a special high-speed mode, leading to scores that blow away similarly specced devices. The LG G2 features an identical 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 processor to that inside the Note 3, for example, yet it pales in comparison during benchmark runs. Ars Technica's research shows that the Note 3 makes a very real distinction between benchmark apps and regular software. Upon detecting the former, it kicks into a consistent 2.3GHz mode — the phone's highest possible CPU speed — that lets it achieve abnormally high scores.
Ars Technica also found a way of turning off the optimization; when that happens, the Note 3's performance comes back down to earth and loses its artificial advantage over rivals. The questionable tactics don't directly affect customers per se, but unfortunately it seems the press will need to pay a much closer eye to Samsung's benchmark scores from now on.