OnePlus confirms manipulating apps to save battery

According to the latest news, OnePlus has confirmed that it deliberately reduced performance in “many of the most popular apps” for improving the battery life of its latest OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro phones. The issue arose after Anandtech’s Andrei Frumusanu did some tests and called the situation “rather baffling”.

He discovering a slowdown in a wide range of prominent Google Play Store apps. Anandtech’s concluded that OnePlus is “blacklisting popular applications away from its fastest cores, causing slowdown in typical workloads such as web browsing.”

Anandtech tested the performance of apps like Chrome and Twitter extensively and said the slowdown “applies to pretty much everything that has any level of popularity in the Play Store.” They clarified that the slowdown covers all Google apps, all Microsoft Office apps, all notable social media apps, and web browsers but some complex games were left untouched.

Previously, some phone manufacturers have been caught artificially boosting performance which makes a device run unreasonably fast in benchmarks but that is not what is happening here. Here, the performance of “regular” apps has been compromised. Still, after this allegation, popular testing benchmark, GeekBench described OnePlus’ approach as “benchmark manipulation” and removed the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro from its Android benchmark chart.

OnePlus has now confirmed to XDA Developers that it was an intentional move that is focused on improving battery life. The company said, “Our top priority is always delivering a great user experience with our products, based in part on acting quickly on important user feedback. Following the launch of the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro in March, some users told us about some areas where we could improve the devices’ battery life and heat management.

As a result of this feedback, our R&D team has been working over the past few months to optimize the devices’ performance when using many of the most popular apps, including Chrome, by matching the app’s processor requirements with the most appropriate power. This has helped to provide a smooth experience while reducing power consumption. While this may impact the devices’ performance in some benchmarking apps, our focus as always is to do what we can to improve the performance of the device for our users.”

Though the statement indicates that the performance is only affected in benchmark results, Anandtech has found exactly the opposite. Frumusanu said “I wouldn’t blame anybody if they hadn’t necessarily noticed the performance discrepancy — I hadn’t immediately noticed it myself beyond the device’s extremely slow momentum scrolling speed setting.  However, having it side-by-side to a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, or a Xiaomi Mi 11 (Ultra) and paying attention, I do very much notice that the OnePlus 9 Pro is less responsive.”

Either way, it is clear that OnePlus took some really unconventional and unorthodox approaches which are far away from common practices in terms of power management on t OnePlus 9 and its Pro variant.

Mary Woods
A news media professional with strong experience in online journalism, content management, and social media.