P20 Pro among Huawei handsets caught adultery during benchmark tests

Huawei P20 flagship handset

After a discovery earlier this week AnandTech that the Huawei P20's flagship device fluttered in 3D-benchmarking 3DMark, the results of the phone were removed from the official results site, along with three other Huawei handsets.

UL Benchmarks – the company responsible for popular mobile and desktop benchmarking software such as 3DMark, PCMark and VRMark – has a pronunciation about the deletion, claiming that it carried out its own tests confirming the results of AnandTech and subsequently removing the Huawei P20 Pro, Huawei P20, Huawei Nova 3 and the Honor Play (a sub-brand of Huawei) as a result.

UL found in particular that Huawei had a hidden performance mode built into its handsets, which was only activated when the devices recognized that the 3DMark app was running. This would circumvent the typical limitations of the phones in terms of battery usage and heat levels to extract as much power as possible.

Huawei P20 flagship handset

When UL compared the public version of 3DMark on these handsets with their own benchmarks, they discovered that this performance mode increased the scores of the handsets by up to 47%. Although the existence of high-performance modes on phones is not inherently cheating, UL's benchmarking rules suppose these modes should be turned off when running the benchmark.

Huawei commented on UL's findings and stated that it "intends to give users access to" Performance Mode "so that they can use the maximum power of their device when needed".

It is unclear whether Huawei users would have seen the release of this mode if the manufacturer was not caught cheating, and whether handset owners who choose to use the option could cause long-term damage to their devices – something that is certainly a possibility if the mode disables the built-in functions for heat and battery protection of Android.