Samsung might be throttling the performance of 10,000 apps (Updated)

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Galaxy S21 Plus backs

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

TL;DR

  • Samsung is purportedly throttling the performance of 10,000 apps on its phones.
  • It’s believed that the company’s Game Optimizing Service app is to blame.

Update: March 3, 2022 (1:27 AM ET): Samsung is apparently investigating the GOS issue pointed out below. According to information circulation on Naver, the company is conducting an internal investigation and approaching the issue as seriously as the Galaxy Note 7 debacle. Samsung is also expected to make an official announcement regarding the matter soon.


Original article: March 2, 2022 (2:49 PM ET): We’ve seen several cases over the years of smartphone manufacturers limiting the performance of a select number of apps, ostensibly in order to claw back battery life. Now, it looks like Samsung might be doing the same.

The purported list isn’t limited to games, as we see prominent apps like Instagram, Microsoft’s Office apps, Netflix, Google Keep, and TikTok here. Even Samsung’s own apps and services are listed here, such as Secure Folder, Samsung Cloud, Samsung Pay, Samsung Pass, and the dialer.

It’s no surprise to hear that benchmark apps like 3DMark, Antutu, PCMark, GFXBench, and GeekBench 5 aren’t listed here. This suggests that Samsung isn’t subjecting benchmark apps to throttling. A Korean YouTuber went so far as to change the 3DMark package name to reflect Genshin Impact (which does appear on the list) and ran the benchmark. The renamed package achieved a drastically lower benchmark score and average frame rate. Check out a screenshot below, with the renamed package on the left.

Samsung GOS Square Dream

For what it’s worth, the app doesn’t seem to be installed on our Galaxy S22 series units. It shows up on the Galaxy Store but hitting “install” shows that the app isn’t compatible with my S22 Plus review device. We also can’t see it on Galaxy S20 FE and Galaxy S10e devices. However, a team member reported seeing the app on their Galaxy S21 Plus, reiterating that it can’t be disabled.

On the one hand, it’s understandable that smartphone makers would seek to balance performance and battery life for many apps. On the other hand, there’s a clear argument to be made that users aren’t getting the performance they asked for. It’s especially suspicious that no benchmark apps are listed here, meaning these results wouldn’t be representative of the actual experience.

It seems like Samsung didn’t learn from OnePlus’s own throttling saga last year.

This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen a mobile manufacturer engage in such ethically dubious practices though. OnePlus was caught “optimizing” the performance of popular apps with the OnePlus 9 Pro last year, but it too excluded benchmark apps from being throttled.

We’ve contacted Samsung’s representatives to find out whether this list is accurate and to determine what exactly GOS is doing to these apps. We’ve also asked the company whether benchmark apps are subject to GOS. We’ll update the article if/when Samsung gets back to us.

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