The OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro are among the best Android phones on the market. That’s in part due to their standout performance and lightning fast charging. But in trying to fix one shortcoming, OnePlus has stirred up trouble.
Battery life was one of the few disappointments for us with the OnePlus 9 Pro and it seems we weren’t alone. An AnandTech report on OnePlus 9 Pro performance in benchmarks turned up some irregularities with certain apps. That report led OnePlus to issue a statement to XDA Developers confirming that some apps were being limited to reduce power consumption.
As is often the case, the coverup is likely going to eclipse the “crime” as OnePlus is seeing a fair amount of backlash over this decision.
This was a slightly unusual case because what AnandTech and others are often looking for with benchmark manipulation is phones recognizing that they are being benchmarked. When that happens, the phones then temporarily boost performance to deliver inflated numbers. OnePlus wasn’t doing that, so the OnePlus 9 Pro rightfully earned its top Geekbench 5 score among Android phones. However, it was limiting the performance of popular apps like Google Chrome and Twitter.
The OnePlus spokesperson specifically indicated that R&D was “matching the app’s processor requirements with the most appropriate power.” Framed that way it is a reasonable change to make, maximizing battery life without sacrificing performance in a way that would be perceptible to users.
If this were offered up as a setting, I imagine quite a few users would opt-in. But that’s the problem, users aren’t being given a choice. Some apps are simply being hampered by OnePlus and users have no ability to turn it off. Given the 65W charging on the OnePlus 9 Pro which can top it back up to 100% in just about 30 minutes, there are unquestionably users that would say they don’t care about the battery life and they just want 100% of the performance available to them at all times.
Given the attention that this has drawn, we expect that we haven’t heard the last response from OnePlus on this matter. The company likely will either need to walk back the changes that are limiting performance, find a way to give users control over the behavior, or offer a more thorough explanation of what is happening and which apps are affected.