It’s almost hard to believe that it has been half a decade since the very first benchmark cheating scandal erupted in the mobile market. That has caused no small amount of drama and for benchmark suites to defend their territory, make changes, and blacklist certain phones. Unknown or forgotten to many, one such result of that media circus was a lawsuit against Samsung revolving around the 2013 Galaxy S4. That case has now been settled but it is one case where “better late than never” doesn’t really apply.
The case started in 2014 and, like all benchmark cheating allegations, accused Samsung of misleading consumers by exaggerating the capabilities of the Galaxy S4. Samsung curiously never denied it used special code to detect benchmarking tools and pushed the hardware beyond its normal operating mode. It only argued that it was under no legal obligation to disclose that fact at all.
At this point, there will be debates on what benchmarks are supposed to report in the first place, whether they should be testing for theoretical maximum capacity or actual real-world performance. Even benchmark tool makers disagree there and so do phone makers. Of late, though, phone makers promise to clean up their act whenever they are reported to be cheating.
Samsung, on the other hand, vigorously fought the case for five years. It finally settled the case without admitting any wrongdoing. It was just probably no longer worth fighting over a six year old phone. Besides, the settlement only prevents it from “cheating” benchmarks until 2023.
And what do the plaintiffs get for all their trouble? the $13.4 million settlement will be broken down to $10.6 million for injunctive relief and $2.8 million for the settlement fund, while the lawyers get $1.5 for keeping the case alive. Claimants are, in effect, entitled to $10 each. More than just the amount, the length of time it took for the case to finally come to a close is almost tragic. Had it been resolved earlier, manufacturers may have thought twice about benchmark cheating. That or they get a free pass for it.