Benchmark utilities are designed to let you run the same exact test on multiple phones, PCs, or other devices so you can get an apples-to-apples comparison and see how they stack up against one another in terms of CPU, graphics, memory, and storage performance, among other things.

At least that’s the idea.

In practice, some device makers have a habit of cheating — and it looks like the folks at Anandtech have uncovered some widespread cheating on the part of chip maker MediaTek and many of the mobile phone makers that use its chips.

By detecting when a device is running specific benchmarking tests, the mobile phones can boost performance to get a higher score… which doesn’t necessarily represent real-world performance. Sure, it turns out your phone can run fast enough to achieve that high score. But most of the time it won’t, because it’s too busy trying to balance speed and power consumption.

MediaTek has responded by basically saying it’s up to phone makers to decide whether to use this benchmark cheating service… and everyone does it anyway… and why wouldn’t you want to see the highest score possible?

Anyway, this isn’t new — Anandtech also discovered widespread benchmark cheating in the smartphone industry way back in 2013. Since then it looked like things had calmed down a bit, but maybe that’s just because device makers thought no one was watching.

Whoops.

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