OnePlus always used flagship specs in its devices, even when its phones were undercutting the competition’s price. The days of “flagship killers” are long gone, but the company still chooses high-end processors each year. In theory, that should make the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro some of the fastest phones you can buy today — indeed, our reviews say basically the same thing — but it turns out that many applications are being held back from reaching peak performance.
A new report from Anandtech dives deep into determining whether or not the OnePlus 9 Pro’s benchmarks match real-world usage, and unfortunately, the answer seems to be a hard no. While OxygenOS allows benchmarking apps to reach full performance using its Snapdragon 888, OnePlus has included a blacklist of popular apps from the Play Store, all of which are prevented from taking full advantage of the phone’s power. The report speculates it’s an attempt to deliver improved battery life — a failure, if our review is anything to go by.
The CPU frequency scaling tracking test, comparing spoofed Twitter and Chrome apps with an anonymous app (image via Anandtech).
As for what apps are affected by OnePlus’s manipulation, unfortunately, it seems to be wide-reaching. Anandtech tested dozens of the most popular apps in the Play Store, ranging from social networks to Microsoft’s Office suite, along with several popular third-party browsers, and nearly everything was limited. Even pre-installed system apps were restricted. It didn’t take long for a pattern to appear: if you recognize an app’s name, it’s probably being throttled by OnePlus.
There are, of course, some exceptions. Vivaldi was the one browser found not to be artificially limited, and games like Genshin Impact could be played at full performance. The analysis discovered some odd outliers as well. Uber and Uber Eats both ran at reduced speeds, but Lyft and Grubhub performed as usual.
While one could argue the main takeaway here is not to trust benchmarking apps — a lesson we’ve learned time and time again — this specific issue feels more reminiscent of Apple’s throttling controversy from a few years ago, which ended with a rare apology from the company. We’ll have to wait to see if OnePlus removes or reduces these app restrictions in response to this report since it’s undoubtedly not taking advantage of the full power of the Snapdragon 888. Until then, you should check out the entire investigation over at Anandtech for a truly nerdy deep dive into benchmarking, kernel code, and app spoofing.