Earlier this week reports emerged that the Game Optimizing Service (GOS) on some Samsung smartphones was throttling the performance of certain games and apps in order to better manage battery life. Now Samsung says a software update is on the way to make this an optional setting.
As per The Verge, the update will enable device owners to choose whether or not they want this throttling to happen. According to Samsung, it is partly designed to limit performance in order to keep phone temperatures down.
“We value the feedback we receive about our products and after careful consideration, we plan to roll out a software update soon so users can control the performance while running game apps,” said Samsung spokesperson Kelly Yeo.
While the original report suggested that non-gaming apps like Netflix and Instagram were also being throttled – with up to 10,000 apps affected in total – Samsung is insisting that GOS only manages the performance of games, as its name indicates.
To add to the controversy, popular Android benchmarking apps are excluded from GOS – that means that the Samsung phones with the software installed are likely to be recording scores that don’t match the performance you actually see while gaming.
In response, Geekbench has decided to delist benchmarking scores from phones in the Galaxy S22, Galaxy S21, Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S10 ranges. We’ll have to wait and see whether these scores get restored in the future.
Analysis: the throttling controversy so far
Samsung has now admitted that its Game Optimizing Service does “manage the performance” of games in order to avoid overheating and to maintain battery health – and it’s not the first phone maker to be caught out doing this.
Both Apple and OnePlus have owned up to throttling performance on their handsets in the past, and the reasons are the same: by forcing apps and games a little slower, the idea is that the battery and other internal components are going to last longer.
It’s a reasonable excuse, but consumers need to be told about these practices and trade-offs up front, preferably before they’ve spent a sizeable chunk of cash on a phone. At the very least, we should get the option to decide whether we want higher frame rates or longer battery life.
It looks as though Samsung will soon give that choice to its users. It’s not clear exactly which handsets GOS runs on, but considering that Geekbench has delisted scores for the last four years’ worth of Samsung flagship phones, it’s fair to assume that most of them are affected.