Yesterday, we head some scandalous claims made about Samsung, the Galaxy S 4, and the phone’s benchmark performance. Based on tests conducted by Anandtech, the Exynos-based GS4 appeared to be keeping its GPU running at a lower clock speed for the vast majority of apps, and would only crank things up to full-speed performance when running a benchmark app named on a hard-coded list stored on the phone. If true, that would suggest that Samsung was manipulating benchmarks in order to deliver figures not reflecting the phone’s real-world performance. Now Samsung has responded to these allegations, but what it has to say is a little less than reassuring.
Basically, Samsung’s position is that the GS4 totally runs a 533MHz GPU, just as the benchmark apps tested, and it’s only occasionally underclocked to 480MHz for certain apps like games where they might otherwise cause an “overload.” Full-speed 533MHz mode, it explains, is indeed used by apps like S Browser, Gallery, Camera, Video Player, and, of course, certain benchmark software.
Something about that doesn’t quite sound right, though. Shouldn’t a higher-speed GPU offer graphic-intensive games better performance? Is there a problem with chip stability at those high speeds? If so, that’s a potentially more damning problem than any benchmark funny business. And then there’s the matter of that list of specific benchmark apps chosen for 533MHz mode – wouldn’t the sensible thing be adjusting GPU clock speed on demand, based on usage? Cherry-picking a fraction of all available apps for this behavior neither seems very effective, nor particularly on the up-and-up.
What do you think, are we being too harsh on Samsung, or are you also not fully satisfied with this explanation?