Earlier this week Huawei was accused of cheating on benchmark tests to ensure better scores for the P20, Honor Play, and possibly more unspecified devices. The response from the company during the initial reports was that benchmark cheating was rampant in the industry, especially from Chinese manufacturers, with the implication being that any benchmark cheating was only done to stay competitive with those dodgy companies. Now, the company has released a new statement promising that a 'Performance Mode' will be coming to EMUI 9.0
First, here's the statement in full:
Huawei and UL (creators of 3DMark) have held comprehensive discussions on benchmarking practices this week, and have reached a positive agreement on the next steps in working together.
In the discussion, Huawei explained that its smartphones use an artificial intelligent resource scheduling mechanism. Because different scenarios have different resource needs, the latest Huawei handsets leverage innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence to optimize resource allocation in a way so that the hardware can demonstrate its capabilities to the fullest extent, while fulfilling user demands across all scenarios.
UL understands the intent of Huawei’s approach, but is opposed to forcing the use of a “Performance Mode” by default when a benchmarking application is detected by the device. UL rules require a device to run the benchmark as if it were any other application.
Huawei respects consumers’ right to choose what to do with their devices. 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.
Huawei and UL have also discussed current common benchmark testing methodologies in general. UL and Huawei would like to participate in an industry movement to develop benchmarking standards that best serve the needs of manufacturers, press, and consumers.
To prevent confusion around current benchmarking results, after discussion, UL and Huawei have temporarily delisted the benchmark scores of a range of Huawei devices, and will reinstate them after Huawei grants all users of Huawei handsets access to the Performance Mode.
There's still no direct admission from Huawei that it had intended to deliberately cheat the benchmarking test, but using AI to to optimise resource allocation in that way could be considered cheating from a certain point of view. Assuming, of course, that this same resource allocation isn't normally available for users to take advantage of. That's presumably part of the reason why Huawei is launching 'Performance Mode' with EMUI 9.0.
For those that don't know, EMUI is Huawei's custom version of Android that feels as though Huawei has done everything in its power to become iOS. That also means Huawei can fill your phone with its own software and features, if it wants to. The software is set to rollout at an unspecified point in September to the P20, Mate 10, and Mate 9 series, and will presumably come to the Mate 20 series as well. Exactly when is unclear, and I can confirm that the Mate 20 Lite I just got hold of still runs EMUI 8.2
As for Performance Mode, it's not clear what this actually is, when it will comes to EMUI 9.0, and whether or not it's the same piece of software that led to cheating accusations. I've asked Huawei to clarify, and will update when I hear back.
If it is the same thing, then we also need to consider what effect this may have on device performance. According to AnandTech (who broke the initial cheating story) whatever was used to seemingly cheat the benchmarks will likely lower the efficiency of the processor over time, as well as increasing power consumption and reducing battery life. That's not good, even if you do get to enjoy a short term performance boost. A candle burnt at both ends, and all that.