Oneplus has admitted that they deliberately slowed down the OnePlus 9 to improve the battery life. A couple of days ago Anandtech found through their testing that the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro reduces its performance while using popular apps on the play store.
The popular apps include pretty much everything except benchmarking apps like geekbench. Whenever the phone detects that you are using any benchmarking app the phone uses all of its cores including the Prime X1 core and then when you’re done, it shifts the load to the less powerful cores.
This results in OnePlus 9 users getting reduced performance of apps, including the likes of Google Chrome, Twitter, YouTube pretty much all of the popular apps.
OnePlus responded admitting that they actually do it for better battery life on their latest phones. Now some of the OnePlus fans would argue that they don’t find any negative here as they would happily give up performance for better battery life and heat management. If you have similar thoughts then you are totally getting this wrong.
You see it’s okay for companies to prioritize battery life over performance. Nothing wrong with that. But that’s not what OnePlus did. They paid a premium to get Snapdragon 888 chips and passed that cost to consumers. They under-engineered the phone and then throttled the performance for everything but benchmarks so that people wouldn’t notice it as benchmarking is the popular way to measure the performance.
So what’s happening now is you are getting performance similar to a Snapdragon 700 chip while you paid a premium to get the 888 chip. If OnePlus had taken a more conservative approach like adding a setting where you could give users an option to limit the performance for better battery life then they might have gotten away with it but they decided to show their products in the best light possible by engaging in shenanigans.
Some of you might also say that isn’t it something similar to what Apple did in 2017?
Well, the difference is Apple throttled older devices with aged batteries because they could no longer deliver expected voltage in certain high CPU usage scenarios, resulting in sudden shutdowns. They were trying to prolong the life of older devices. Also unlike OnePlus, Apple never turned off the throttling when iOS detected a benchmark software. The only real commonality here is that in both cases the companies should have clearly communicated what they were doing.