Further evidence that benchmark scores are a horrible way for the average consumer to choose an Android phone oozed to the surface this week, since it looks like most of the biggest vendors essentially cheat on the tests.
The idea is pretty simple – devices designed to produce inflated benchmark scores have hidden subroutines that remove the usual limits on CPU or GPU power when known benchmarking apps are running, allowing them to achieve performance in excess of what would normally be possible. So the performance you get when actually using the device won’t match up with the performance the benchmarks indicate.
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Samsung was the first Android manufacturer to get pilloried for this, a couple months ago, when it was caught cooking the hardware on the Galaxy S4, and the company seems not to have learned its lesson. Reviewers quickly noted that the Galaxy Note 3 uses extensive “benchmark optimization,” and Ars Technica found that the same technique may partially mask potential performance issues in the latest Galaxy Note 10.1.
Sadly, this type of trickery isn’t confined to Samsung’s devices – an extensive report from AnandTech shows that LG, HTC and Asus are all in on it as well. (Who had clean hands? Motorola and the people who make That Other Smartphone.)
Although I don’t want to overstate the importance of this issue, it remains that getting involved with this kind of low-rent chicanery was a stupid decision by all involved. Deceiving customers and the media in the interest of minor increases on benchmark scores? Does that really seem like a decent risk-reward calculation?
Samsung, in particular, is having a rough week where its credibility is concerned. The company had promised that Galaxy Note 3s sold in Europe would not be region-locked – which turns out to not be strictly true, either, according to a threadnaught on XDA Developers.
Credit: IDGNS/Martyn Williams
Users are finding the region lock still firmly in place, so I guess it just kind of sucks to be you if you were trying to use the Note 3 while traveling internationally. This news comes after Samsung had stated publicly that users would be able to unlock the devices for free. The company really, really needs to clarify what’s going on here, and refund or replace customers who didn’t receive the handset they thought they were buying.
(H/T: Android Authority)
On to slightly less aggravating news – leaked information suggests that the rumored Nexus 5 from Google will be released before the end of the month, and AndroidWorld.it has what it says are the specs for the forthcoming new phone, thanks to Myce.com.
It’s relatively standard fare – a 5-inch, 1080p screen, Snapdragon 800, 2GB of RAM, 8MP/1.2MP rear and front cameras. However, it seems likely to be the device that returns 4G/LTE connectivity to the Nexus lineup, as FCC documents indicate that it should work with all four major U.S. carriers’ next-gen networks. If you’re a Nexus fan who was disappointed by the Nexus 4’s lack of 4G, stay tuned.
I suspect I’m not alone in my hatred of apps that push ads to the notification bar in Android, which means I’m likely not the only one celebrating Google’s recent move to ban this and several other irritating advertising practices from apps offered through the Play Store.
Also included in the crackdown, according to a detailed analysis from Android Police, are tougher restrictions on hate speech, stricter rules about impersonating other developers or applications, and a ban on adding new shortcuts or bookmarks to a user’s device.
Go read it, it’s all good news. The announcement was made in late August, but the changes went into effect last weekend.
(H/T: Android Headlines)
Remember how hyped up everyone got over Chromecast? Adriana Lee over at ReadWrite has a good piece about the promising TV dongle and the continuing delays in bringing it to a mass audience.
Finally, a site called Gadget Helpline (whose site appears to have collapsed under the weight of interest) has what it says is an exclusive preview of Android 4.4 “KitKat.” But it looks like Key Lime Pie for some reason, complete with icon. Android Authority, fortunately, has re-hosted the images and offered partial explanations – as well as a biggish grain of salt – about the leak.
Android Authority posits that this is an older version of 4.4, and that the Key Lime Pie name was used internally to prevent leaks to the press. (That sure worked well.) If this is an old variant, I’d say it suggests that the KitKat naming deal happened further along in the process, but I’m just speculating.
Email Jon Gold at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.