OnePlus and Meizu were caught cheating some popular Android benchmarking apps earlier this week. Mario Serrafero of XDA Developers initially noticed some strange behavior exhibited by the OnePlus 3T while monitoring how the device increases CPU clock speeds when opening apps to improve load times. While using Qualcomm's Trepn Power Profiler and Snapdragon Performance Visualizer, Serrafero realized that the OnePlus 3T sometimes wouldn't scale down clock speeds after opening apps. Upon further inspection, it came to light that this phenomenon is only observable when launching certain apps, mostly benchmarks.
The OnePlus 3T regularly boosts CPU clock speeds to improve launch times but reduces them as soon as it opens apps to preserve battery. However, the phone continues forcing high CPU speeds after opening some benchmarks as all of its cores continue to operate at full capacity even when there's no CPU load to speak of, i.e. when the processor is idling. Serrafero speculated that OnePlus is possibly targeting benchmarking apps by allowing more relaxed thermal restrictions when they are running to artificially increase benchmarking scores. Those suspicions were confirmed after another round of testing conducted by Geekbench creators Primate Labs in Toronto. As it turns out, the OnePlus 3T is specifically targeting Androbench, AnTuTu, Vellamo, Quadrant, GFXBench, and Primate Labs' own Geekbench. Primate Labs then developed a masked version of its benchmarking app which avoids detection by the OnePlus 3T. Upon running it, the device was idling at 0.31GHz like it usually does, proving that OnePlus is truly trying to cheat benchmarks. OnePlus said that this feature was implemented in order to boost performance in some games and promised to exclude benchmarks from triggering it with an OxygenOS update that will roll out in the near future.
An even more extreme case of benchmark cheating was then discovered upon inspecting the Meizu PRO 6 Plus. Meizu's device sporting the Exynos 8890 features a Balance Mode and a Performance Mode and is prompting users to turn on the latter when they open a benchmarking app. While the device scores better when running in Performance Mode, a masked version of Geekbench yielded similar results for both modes, suggesting that Meizu only included the Performance Mode for benchmarking purposes while the thereof makes no difference in everyday use.