October 27, 2020

Qualcomm responds to MediaTek benchmark cheating controversy

MediaTek admitted that it inflated benchmark scores, but said a "key" rival was doing the same.

Qualcomm has denied suggestions that it engages in benchmark cheating.

MediaTek courted controversy last week when a new report alleged that the company was facilitating benchmark cheating. The chip designer purportedly allowed OEMs to enable a “sports mode” in benchmark apps, using so-called whitelisting to identify these apps.

The Taiwanese firm defended itself against the report at the time, adding that this was a common industry practice and that its “key competitor” was also guilty of this practice. Its arch-rival in this space is Qualcomm, so you’d have to assume that MediaTek was indeed talking about the US chip designer.

Now, Qualcomm has issued a statement to Android Authority categorically stating it doesn’t whitelist benchmark apps.

Qualcomm’s statement on benchmark cheating

“Whitelisting refers to the technique of using the app name to determine whether to put the device into performance enhancement mode,” the company explained.

“The action of whitelisting a benchmark app is generally considered by the industry as cheating since it defeats the purpose of a benchmark, which is to reflect user experience for day to day use. Qualcomm does not whitelist.”

It’s entirely possible that MediaTek was referring to another competitor, such as Huawei or Samsung. But these companies mostly make chipsets for their own brands, with Samsung occasionally selling its chips to others. Qualcomm is the only major company that’s a direct competitor to MediaTek at every price tier around the world.

Nevertheless, this saga still suggests that companies haven’t learned their lesson when it comes to inflating benchmark scores. It’s particularly disappointing for MediaTek as its Helio G series and Dimensity 1000 flagship processor do have great specs on paper and shouldn’t need sketchy benchmark practices.

More posts about smartphone hardware