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Apple Slams Samsung's Benchmarking 'Shenanigans'

By Erika Morphy MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Oct 2, 2013 5:00 AM PT

The ongoing battle between Apple and Samsung may be more commonly fought in the courtroom than on social media, but Apple on Tuesday apparently made an exception following the publication of a report suggesting that Samsung may be artificially boosting the benchmark scores of its new Galaxy Note 3.

Apple Slams Samsung's Benchmarking 'Shenanigans'

"Shenanigans" tweeted Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of marketing, along with a link to the story in question on Ars Technica.

Ars began by looking into why the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 scored "really, really well" on benchmark tests -- a phenomenon that was particularly puzzling given that Samsung's 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 "blows the doors off" LG's 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800.

'A Special, High-Power CPU Mode'

The answer, as reported by the publication, was that Samsung appears to be artificially boosting the benchmark scores with "a special, high-power CPU mode that kicks in when the device runs a large number of popular benchmarking apps," author Ron Amadeo explained.

Essentially, the CPU treats the benchmarking app differently than it does a normal app, locking into the fastest speed possible, Ars charged, for scores that are inflated by as much as 20 percent.

Neither Apple nor Samsung responded to our request for further details.

Limited Effects

"Make no mistake," Rob Walch, host of Today in iOS, told MacNewsWorld. "This is not an 'oops' event for Samsung; this is not something that can happen by accident. This is Samsung deliberately rigging its devices to perform differently when they sense a benchmarking app. This is them saying, 'hey, let's put in code to make our unit look better when it is running a benchmark app.'"

That said, however, it is unlikely that the report will have much influence with smartphone buyers.

"For starters, I don't think many consumers realize what a benchmarking app is," Charles King, principal of Pund-IT, told MacNewsWorld.

"So long as the performance isn't materially impacted, I doubt this report or others like it will resonate that deeply with consumers," King added.

'A Small Group of Buyers'

That doesn't mean Apple won't try to make something of it, via tweets and possibly other marketing campaigns, he added.

"These two companies have definitely taken their gloves off as they fight each other for market share around the world," King explained. 'It wouldn't surprise me to hear Apple commenting on Samsung's 'deception' again."

If that were to happen, King continued, and Apple's efforts began to gain traction with consumers, Samsung will have to respond.

"Benchmarking can be surprisingly subjective, and I would expect both sides to show substantiation for their positions if it came to that," he said.

Most likely it won't come to anything, however, except perhaps among the most sophisticated of tech users, he predicted. "That is a relatively small group of buyers."

It's Happened Before

In fact, similar claims have been lodged against Samsung in the past that quickly disappeared without a ripple, Walch pointed out.

Earlier this summer, for example, AnandTech reported similar findings, he noted.

"It didn't seem to bother people," he said. "In general, I tell people to take benchmarking tests with a grain of salt, and any to do with Samsung in particular."

People who rely on device performance already know this, Walch concluded.

"Gamers and users of multimedia are very sophisticated smartphone users," he explained, "and tend to have their own criteria for evaluating a device's specs."

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