Samsung’s Android 4.4 update ends benchmark boosting saga
Samsung was criticized last year for using techniques to artificially boost benchmark scores on devices like the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3. The manufacturer was alleged to have introduced code that puts the CPU into overdrive as soon as a benchmark test is initialized, which led to inflated benchmark scores. Samsung was able to achieve this by allowing the CPU to run full-tilt whenever a benchmark test was detected. While that may lead to a higher benchmark score, it usually causes instability and overheating. This is why CPUs are throttled and do not run at maximum frequencies unless the workload demands it.
Why Samsung would resort to such an under-handed move is still in question. The manufacturer has come out and said that it does not knowingly indulge in benchmark rigging. However, a lengthy analysis by Ars Technica has confirmed that the offending code that was causing devices to run on maximum frequencies has been removed from Samsung’s official Android 4.4 KitKat build. After installing Android 4.4 KitKat, both the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 function normally when a benchmark test is run.
Geekbench test results from Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean to Android 4.4 KitKat do reveal a slight increase in scores, but nothing as drastic as the increase from Android 4.2.2 to Android 4.3. Ars talked to John Poole of Primate Labs, who mentioned that the increased score on KitKat is due to better tweaking by Samsung and not artificial inflation. “I’m inclined to think that the change between 4.2.2 and 4.4.2 is due to Samsung tweaking the overall power and performance settings rather than a new harder-to-detect boost.”