OnePlus provides a further explanation for the OnePlus 9 CPU throttling controversy, won't please Qualcomm
OnePlus has found itself in a pickle of its own making. The company’s flagship handsets, the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro have both been delisted following an in depth analysis from Anandtech that showed the company was using app identifiers to throttle the performance of the Snapdragon 888 on certain commonly used apps. This resulted in Geekbench delisting the devices from its benchmark scores as the device was able to run benchmarks without performance limitation -- this is something Geekbench still considers manipulation.
Following the Geekbench announcement, OnePlus released an initial statement admitting that it had worked to respond to customer feedback about the OnePlus 9 series battery life and heat management by looking to “optimize the device’s performance when using many of the most popular apps”. While OnePlus immediately came clean on the matter, it made the adjustments to the device’s performance without letting anyone know what it was up to. This, of course, hasn’t gone down too well with customers and observers, as one might expect.
OnePlus has now issued a subsequent statement, but this time it looks like it might get itself in a spot of bother with Qualcomm, the maker of the Snapdragon 888 found in the OnePlus 8 series. This is part of the latest statement from OnePlus:
In recent years, the performance of smartphone SoCs has reached a point where their power is often overkill in certain scenarios for many apps including social media, browsers and even some light gaming.
With this in mind, our team has shifted its attention from simply providing sheer performance to providing the performance you expect from our devices while reducing power consumption and heat dissipation. To be more precise, we want to match each app with the most appropriate performance it needs.
In the case of the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro, when you open apps or heavy games, the Snapdragon 888 processor, including the super powerful X1 CPU core, will run at full speed to provide the best performance. But with actions that do not require the maximum power, like reading a webpage or scrolling through Twitter and Instagram, it’s not necessary for the CPU to run at almost 3GHz to do that smoothly. The OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro reduce the CPU frequency in these scenarios to reduce power consumption and heat dissipation while maintaining a smooth experience.
As you can see, the company is continuing with its theme of device and performance optimization -- all of which seems reasonable, except for its lack of initial transparency on the subject. But this time, as you can also see, OnePlus has put its chip maker Qualcomm in the spotlight by suggesting that its chips are ‘overkill’ while also implying that the Snapdragon 888 is really to blame as it runs too hot as a result and uses too much battery. It will be interesting to see if Qualcomm steps into the fray to defend itself as it too is now being dragged through the mud by OnePlus.
The Snapdragon 888 is fabricated on Samsung’s 5 nm node where its 865 was fabricated on TSMC’s 7nm node. It should, in theory, be more power efficient. However, the reality is that it isn’t. Part of this has been put down to the choices made at a chip design level by Qualcomm which prioritize performance, while choosing Samsung for its fabrication instead of industry leader TSMC could also be a factor. While the OnePlus 9 series feature almost identical battery capacities to the Snapdragon 865-powered OnePlus 8 series, the latter has significantly better battery life and thermals.