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Benchmark Booster found in Samsung Galaxy S4

The battle for the best and most powerful Android smartphone in the world is sometimes heavily fought in benchmark scores. This is how the Galaxy S3 was known to be the better Android phone. Same is true with the Galaxy S4.

However, in a recent investigation by AnandTech, the Samsung Galaxy S4 was found to have been optimized for specific benchmark tools.

These are the apps where the Galaxy S4 is instructed to run at full power:


  • Quadrant (standard, advanced, and professional)
  • Linpack (free)
  • Benchmark Pi
  • AnTuTu Benchmark

When these apps are running, the GPU of the Galaxy S4 is forced to run at 532MHz. Everything else, even graphics-intensive games, will only trigger a maximum GPU frequency of just 480MHz.

The same is true with the CPU (both Exynos 5 and Snapdragon 600) — when those benchmark apps are running, the system triggers the CPU to run at maximum frequency on all 4 cores.

In our review of the Galaxy S4, we saw the handset clocking in the highest scores in benchmark tests by Quadrant and Antutu.

This means that the environment in which regular apps and games would run on the Galaxy S4 is not the same as the settings put forth while running these specific bench-marking apps. While we cannot categorically conclude that Samsung is over-clocking their chips just to score higher/better in these benchmarks, there is certainly evidence of benchmark optimization.


Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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32 Responses

  1. abuzalzal says:

    It’s not cheating…

    It’s deception

    • rockz says:

      marketing strategies… press releass ….

    • r41 says:

      Shame on Samsung. However this only solidifies the stance that benchmarks are not the last word in choosing a phone. Look at WP8 and iOS, only on mere dual cores yet smoother than most if not all Androids out there. It’s the experience that counts, which is not always produced by injecting power.

  2. sir cheap says:

    Now this reminds me of the benchmark competition between Nvidia and ATI’s grpahics cards during the early 2000s. Not to mention, games that will only run on a specific graphics card.

  3. Bench says:

    And this is why one does not simply buy a smartphone or tablet solely due to its benchmark scores. I’m looking at you, benchmark-whores.

    • tama says:

      benchmarks are nice pero di mangmang ang mga manufacturers, alam nila kung pano imanipulate ang scores without actually adding something of value to the real world usage of the device

  4. Abed M. says:


  5. Darius says:

    for regular users like me who doesn’t care so much about benchmarks, i can still say na the s4 is one of the fastest android in the market right now.

    • OhohKhimee says:

      fastest? oh really? many users that they are experiencing lags and overheating..lmfao.

    • Name: says:

      @Darius nope s4 is just one of the fastest android phones today and to @Ohoh you are also wrong no matter how fast s4 is,it will still lag because android OS is not that stable

  6. I understand why Samsung would optimize their phones for benchmarks. I think it’s pretty much like SEO. You want to increase your chances “to get noticed”. Personally, I don’t rely on benchmarks when buying a gadget. If the phone feels right and if it has all the features I’m looking for, that’s usually what I would go for.

    • Abed M. says:

      absolutely. S4 is a great phone, Samsung don’t need to use such unfair practices just to gain advantage.

  7. setsuna says:

    Its not deception. Its just showing us the maximum potential of the processor.

    • Abed M. says:

      Max potential of processor that runs on benchmark tests only? Still its a blatant cheat though, runs on lower clock cap on non-benchmark test apps.

    • TacticalNinja says:

      @Abed M.: Setsuna made perfect sense. One reason why *most* graphics intensive application don’t fully utilized the CPU is power consumption and lifespan of the CPU. Similar to any other CPU’s, their normal operating clock is not defaulted to use the maximum clock since it will degrade the CPU faster, and will use more power to run.

      And if you notice “bug fixes” from applications actually includes using *LESS* battery life, which translates to optimizing the application to run on *Lower* clockspeeds. Because to mobile application developers, higher clock speeds means their application is not efficient, and is not considered a good thing.

    • abuzalzal says:

      Its just showing us the maximum potential of the processor? you crazy? Have you done an overclocking procedure before????

      EVERY CPU/GPU in the market can run well above their given stock speeds, pero kung hahayaan mong tumakbo at full throttle (overclocked) for 30 minutes ano kaya mangyayari? Common sense

      It’s a clear-cut deception, the gpu can run @532 Mhz no doubt, but at what given time frame bago bumigay ito at mag-shut down due to thermal problems? To me that is definitely what you call ”Full Potential”.

    • boboamp says:

      @tacticalninja and @setsuna they’re still cheating because we all know that benchmark apps are used to compare phones hardwarewise w/c is better using number values para maging exact,ngaun kung imamaximize lng nila un pag sa benchmark apps namimislead nila ung mga tao kasi ang akala nila ganun kabilis ang hardware ng gs4 nila pagnaglalaro cla ng intensive 3d games,KUHA MO?!?!?

  8. nameless says:

    o c’mon people. If a game can’t optimize the use of cores and maximum freq, it’s the game’s fault. The hardwares are just there. It’s up for the software engrs to utilize them. Don’t blame the device if your app is not designed to utilize its maximum potential. Again it’s not cheating. Those people who are easily deceived by benchmarks are just fools.

    • oitangabatkanand2 says:

      @nameless hindi un fault ng game devs,kasi kahit iprogram pa nila ung isang app na imaximize ung processor(for example)wala rin silang magagawa kasi nakaprogram ang processor ng s4 na hanggang dito lang siya dapat tatakbo except the name benchmark apps na hinahayaan nila na ioverclock ung processor and gpu…

    • nameless says:

      Nah. It’s the software’s deficiency if it was not able to utilize the maximum potential of he device. Have you heard of overclocking apps? If they were able to unleash the maximum potential of a device, why can game devs not do it? Some games have specific engines to maximize a certain hardware. Unfortunately, for android, it will cost them a lot because of many device variations available in the market. The reason they will just resort into what is generally acceptable for every device.

    • analog says:

      sir, core utilization including the operating frequency are generally controlled by the kernel, not the app itself. as for hardware based app optimization, that feature isnt open for all developers, you know should know what lib/s a specific SOC player uses in order to optimize your app for that (without requiring root access). tegra only/optimized games are the example.

    • nameless says:

      Isn’t it the Game Devs’ job to figure how to optimize their product on certain devices? They did it with Tegra optimized games. There’s a reason why they provide us software updates. The only problem i see here is that devs are having a hard time optimizing their product on android because of device variations unlike apple who only has one at a certain period of time. It would cost them much it they have to pay attention for eac SoC in the market.

      Regarding the core/freq control, it’s just already there. The benchmarks are the results. It showed what the hardware are capable of. No cheating indeed.

    • analog says:

      of course it is hard when you dont have a list of functions/libraries for the said optimization. i haven’t seen any tegra specific libraries available on the internet. it’s part of the business. if soc specific libraries are available over the net then it’s not that hard for large players in the mobile gaming industry to create any-soc optimized games.

      sir, it is true that it showed the maximum capabilities of the soc but there are reasons which it isn’t ideal to operate at maximum limits even a certain demands so. now samsung had set a safe operating limits of the GPU in their kernel (480Mhz), setting the GPU to operate at 532Mhz for longer periods of time (high end games) will give you performance boost in exchange of thermal stress and battery drain. it was hardcoded in their firmware which has the list of apps running to run at boost mode.
      again, indeed it showed the maximum performance of the soc for short periods, but the maximum performance isn’t ideal for normal use, even games. now if you want your game to be optimized by operating the GPU at max frequency, you are not allowed to do so, you need special root permissions.

    • nameless says:

      These libs you were talking about might not be as open as other libs from other SoC. Yes, perhaps for business reasons.

      For some reasons, I view these benchmark ratings as measurement of the hardware’s max capability under ideal conditions. These companies never assured us that these devices would always work under full potential for all situations. The Benchmarks used was created to measure the maximum performance but not the actual performance of the device for specific uses. Therefore I can’t consider this as cheating. Maybe the comment above was right. It was a deception created on end-users’ hype over benchmarks.

      We’ll figure those ROM/kernel stuffs once the source code is released.

  9. snowden says:

    why not use the benchmark booster to boost graphic-intensive apps? why limit it to benchmarking tools????

    • TacticalNinja says:

      Not sure if trolling, or you literally misunderstood the article.

      Yun na yung catch: “If only the booster works for all applications”, but it is only activated/only optimized for benchmarking applications.

  10. Hmmm says:

    Maybe because they thought about the handset’s battery consumption ang longitivity, so they set these cores to the right (not to its highest limit) frequency in a level in which all games and apps would run smoothly even without raising it to its maximum clock. If there was a reason behind this i think that must be it.

  11. ohohkhimee says:

    shame on you samsung..iphone 5 with its only dual core can wipe out that s4 in terms of smoothness and speed..no lags, forceclose, hangs and auto shutdown..thats apple thats quality..hd games? Name it runs smoothly..

    • AMMarquez says:

      sir, that’s because Apple doesn’t really do multitasking (like what Android does) so the phone pauses every other processes to make the phone run smoother. And also, ask the GPU. Only Tegra 4 and Adreno 330 GPUs can beat that (probably), even the A6X is beaten easily. And note that the Adreno GPUs probably have only 1 core, compared to the SGX543 on the iPhone 5, which has 3 cores.

    • hahaha says:

      not sure if isheeps are really dumb or they are just trying to find an excuse why they bought a phone that’s not even close to what it’s worth.

  12. Schwartz MD says:

    What are benchmarks for? They show the maximum potential of a phone. Why would you set your phone to highest speed always. It’s not that much different from a car for example. The manufacturer may claim that it can reach a certain top speed in an ideal situation but you may never reach that speed (unless you tweak your engine of course). My car’s manual says it’s maximum speed is at 205kph, but the fastest I got was 185kph even when it was new. This article could be misleading. Based on my understanding, there’s shouldn’t be any issue about it… Well, haters gonna hate.

  13. expwfirmwareprgmng says:

    Just reacting to a post above that says “dahil nakaprogram ang processor ng s4 na hanggang dito lang sya dapat tumakbo”. That is inaccurate, that claim was never made in oiginal article. While the processor is tuned to clock lower than the maximum it can handle (for many obvious reasons), nothing is preventing apps from using this reserved and unused power if they can and they need to. So it’s like applications triggering the requirement.

    The real trick here is that the phone is hardcoded to react to the benchmarking apps proactively, triggering the max cpu power by itself and for the benchmarking software.

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