Wednesday 13 November 2019

Samsung denies performance-boosting hardware in Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4 (left) and Apple iPhone 5
Samsung Galaxy S4 (left) and Apple iPhone 5

Rhiannon Williams

Samsung has denied allowing its hardware to run faster in specific benchmarking apps to garner more favourable reviews for the Galaxy S4.

An investigation by tech website AnandTech claims the graphics processing unit (GPU) in differing models of the S4 ran at higher speeds in certain performance-measuring apps. The speeds measured were higher than those usually achieved by users, the site said.

Samsung today issued a statement denying that the varied GPU frequencies of the S4 were intended to improve performance measured by benchmark tools.

The South Korean company said: “Under ordinary conditions, the GALAXY S4 has been designed to allow a maximum GPU frequency of 533MHz. However, the maximum GPU frequency is lowered to 480MHz for certain gaming apps that may cause an overload, when they are used for a prolonged period of time in full-screen mode. Meanwhile, a maximum GPU frequency of 533MHz is applicable for running apps that are usually used in full-screen mode, such as the S Browser, Gallery, Camera, Video Player, and certain benchmarking apps, which also demand substantial performance.

“The maximum GPU frequencies for the GALAXY S4 have been varied to provide optimal user experience for our customers, and were not intended to improve certain benchmark results."

The team behind the AnandTech study said benchmarking tools GLBenchmark 2.5.1, Quadrant, and AnTuTu measured speeds of 532MHz, despite the fact the international model measured is normally locked at 480MHz. These increased speeds represent a performance boost of around 11pc, which could give the Galaxy S4 an unfair advantage in comparisons with rival phones, the site said.

It also claimed that the US S4 model's processor jumped to the highest performance mode and stayed there, regardless of actual usage.

Samsung do not state a specific Galaxy S4 GPU clock speed in the model's listed specifications, leaving reviewers to use benchmarking tools to gauge performance.

Benchmarking apps are used to test the performance of graphic systems, processors, web browsing and other features in devices for comparison with other models, and scores do not typically have a direct relationship to how fast the devices feel for typical users, but they do aim to provide objective comparisons.

The Galaxy S4 sold over 10m handsets within a month of its release earlier this year, and was hailed as a significant improvement on its predecessor the S3. Yet despite favourable reviews, the device failed to sell enough units for Samsung to meet its £5.8bn operating income estimate for April - June, netting £5.5bn.

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