UL delists Huawei phones with suspect benchmark scores

September 6, 2018

Over the last five years, more than a few smartphone manufacturers have been caught and shamed for trying to manipulate benchmark scores. That's why UL has clear rules for manufacturers that govern how a platform can interact with its benchmarking software. 

Earlier this week, AnandTech reported that several recent smartphone models from Huawei and its sub-brand, Honor, seem to be producing artificially high and misleading benchmark scores. Huawei is the second largest smartphone manufacturer in the world by volume according to IDC

After testing the devices in our own lab and confirming that they breach our rules, we have decided to delist the affected models and remove them from our performance rankings. 

Which models have been delisted?

Based on our own testing, we have delisted the following models:

  • Huawei P20 Pro
  • Huawei Nova 3
  • Honor Play

Based on AnandTech's testing and reporting, we have also delisted:

  • Huawei P20

Delisted devices appear unranked, and without scores, at the bottom of our popular list of the best smartphones. 3DMark scores from delisted devices should not be used to compare models. 

Why have you delisted these models?

We tested each model with the public version of 3DMark, available from Google Play, and a private version of 3DMark that is not available to the public or manufacturers. 

Chart comparing 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme benchmark scores

We found that the scores from the public 3DMark app were up to 47% higher than the scores from the private app, even though the tests are identical. 

With the public 3DMark app, these devices appear to use a hidden "Performance Mode" that overrides the devices' usual power profile—see the AnandTech article for more details.

The difference in scores tells us that the devices are simply recognizing the 3DMark app by name rather than adapting to the type of work in the test. 

This kind of detection and optimization is forbidden by our rules for manufacturers. We contacted Huawei with our findings, and we are happy to say that they have pledged to implement a more transparent approach in a future update,

"Huawei is planning to provide users with access to “Performance Mode” so they can use the maximum power of their device when they need to."

Optional performance modes that can be set by the user—already available on some other manufacturers' models—are allowed under our current rules as long as they are disabled by default. A device must run the benchmark as if it were any other application.

We're committed to creating benchmarks you can trust

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