OnePlus explains why it throttles CPU performance in many apps

Last week it was discovered that the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro were throttling performance in many popular apps. This came as a surprise to many as performance is an area where OnePlus has always excelled, and OnePlus phones are often regarded as one of the fastest on the market. You can expect a OnePlus flagship to have a mediocre camera but never subpar performance. But the new OnePlus 9 series isn’t setting the bar too high as far as device performance is concerned.

As discovered by Andrei Frumusanu from AnandTech last week, the OnePlus 9 series is selectively and deliberately throttling CPU performance in apps like Google Chrome, Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, Discord, and many other apps. Shortly after the finding, OnePlus provided a statement confirming that the OnePlus 9 series throttles CPU performance in many popular apps. In a new post on the OnePlus forums, the company has now detailed its reasoning behind limiting the CPU performance.

In the post, OnePlus acknowledges that the performance of the Snapdragon 888 is overkill for most day-to-day tasks. OnePlus says when opening apps and games, they allow the performance cores, including the X1 CPU core, to run at their full speed. At the same time, the company explains that it reduces the CPU frequency of the performance cores in scenarios like reading a webpage, scrolling through Twitter and Instagram feeds, etc., to save battery and reduce heating.

The company also confirmed that they maintain a list of most popular apps that are subject to this “performance optimization”:

The OnePlus R&D team also maintains a list of applications – based on the most popular Google Play Store apps – that we try to optimize, including some of the apps you know and love like Chrome, Twitter, Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Discord, Microsoft Office plus our own apps. All of this optimization is only finalized after our testing team makes sure the actual user experience is not negatively affected.

While it’s good to see OnePlus not beating around the bush and fully explaining their reasoning behind this performance-limiting mechanism, we expected better from a brand that has built its name around speed and performance. OnePlus should have been upfront about the CPU throttling, in our opinion.

We at XDA believe smartphone companies should not throttle performance in any app without telling users. Performance throttling can be a double-edged sword in that it could be weaponized by companies to deliberately slow down the performance and force people to upgrade to a newer model down the line — the iPhone batterygate scandal comes to mind.

If OnePlus must keep the performance-limiting mechanism in place, it should at the very least give power users an option to opt-out of this optimization and let them decide for themselves whether they want to save battery life or have the maximum performance.