The market’s first ‘usability’ benchmark

When you’re on a long flight, have you stopped yourself from playing a mobile game in order to conserve your battery? Have you experienced too many stutters when you play a visually intensive title? Do you think it’d be helpful if you could choose a phone to suit your specific needs, based on public data about how well each model handles the best games and apps?

Smartphone and tablet reviewers try to distill their sense of how well a phone performs, but no matter how good their intentions, their conclusions are inevitably subjective and anecdotal. That’s why a market has developed around benchmarking apps like GFX, CPUBench, AnTuTu etc.

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How to make an ‘uncheatable’ benchmark

Is there such thing as an ‘uncheatable’ benchmark? Cheating isn’t new in benchmarking, as seen with SPEC (for PCs) or Dhyrstone (for embedded processors) from a decade ago. More recently, benchmark wars have resurfaced, given the news around how certain smartphone manufacturers like Samsung and HTC have been rigging the results on particular top end models. It appears that they detect when a benchmark that is running (such as GFX, Basemark, or AnTuTu), and then increase the chipset frequency and temperature constraints to give higher results.

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