Samsung is allegedly boosting the performance of its flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone in reviews by allowing its hardware to run faster in specific benchmarking apps. An investigation by AnandTech sparked by a post on the Beyond3D forum found that the GPU in various models of the phone ran at higher clock speeds in certain performance-measuring tools than users would normally be able to attain.
An unfair advantage?
The GPU findings relate to the international model of the phone, which uses a Samsung Exynos 5 Octa system-on-chip. In benchmarking apps like GLBenchmark 2.5.1, Quadrant, and AnTuTu, the GPU is able to run at 532MHz, whereas the device is normally locked to 480MHz; AnandTech says this gives a roughly 11 percent boost in reported performance. CPU performance in both the Exynos and Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered US variant is also affected; launching one of the whitelisted benchmarking apps causes the processor to jump to the highest performance mode and stay there regardless of the actual workload.
Although Samsung does not claim a specific GPU clock speed for the Galaxy S4 in its marketing materials, several publications regularly use benchmarking tools to evaluate new devices. Benchmarks have always had a tenuous relationship with real-world performance, but if what AnandTech alleges is indeed the case, Samsung is giving its flagship smartphone an unfair advantage against the competitors it's put up against in ostensibly objective comparisons.
Update: Samsung has responded to the allegations, claiming innocence.