Huawei Reacts to Benchmark Cheating Scandal, Promises Transparency

Huawei will provide open access to the preloaded ‘Performance Mode’ in EMUI 9.0 to let users choose when to use their devices to the “maximum”, the company said after facing controversy for artificially producing high benchmarks on a number of its phones. After an expose by a reputed testing publication, 3DMark maker UL Benchmarks said it had found Huawei to be using ‘forbidden’ detection and optimisation, with certain models found to have the code to adjust their performance to get higher scores on benchmark apps including 3DMark. UL Benchmarks then proceeded to delist the Huawei P20, P20 Pro, Nova 3, and Honor Play from its leaderboards.

Earlier this week, folks at AnandTech exposed Huawei as boosting the performance of its devices to ‘cheat’ on benchmark results. The team specifically found that despite having the same HiSilicon Kirin 970 SoC, the Honor Play and the Huawei P20 devices received different benchmark results. It was the software that helped the new model to increase the performance artificially.

UL Benchmarks said it was was able to confirm the flaw by using a private version of the 3DMark app and spotted as much as 47 percent higher results on the public 3DMark app than what was received on its private version. It added, “Optional performance modes that can be set by the user-already available on some other manufacturers’ models-are allowed under our current rules as long as they are disabled by default. A device must run the benchmark as if it were any other application.”

In its statement acknowledging the mechanism to artificially produce high benchmark results, Huawei said, “Because different scenarios have different resource needs, the latest Huawei handsets leverage innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence to optimise resource allocation in a way so that the hardware can demonstrate its capabilities to the fullest extent, while fulfilling user demands across all scenarios.”

“Huawei respects consumers’ right to choose what to do with their devices,” the company notes, adding, “Therefore, Huawei will provide users with open access to ‘Performance Mode’ in EMUI 9.0, so that the user can choose when to use the maximum power of their device.”

UL Benchmarks said, “We contacted Huawei with our findings, and we are happy to say that they have pledged to implement a more transparent approach in a future update,” adding that has agreed to reinstate Huawei’s models once it brings the Performance Mode for end users. “Delisted devices appear unranked, and without scores, at the bottom of our popular list of the best smartphones,” UL said. Huawei says that the delisting is of a temporary nature and is aimed “to prevent confusion” around existing benchmark results.

Notably, while Huawei is ultimately giving users access to its Performance Mode, it hasn’t yet made any announcements to restrict its devices from overperforming on benchmark results. The move will only be helpful for users who want to extend the performance of their devices at a tap of a button.

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