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Samsung accused of cheating on hardware benchmarks ... again

South Korean giant says it's in no way goosing TV HDR brightness

Samsung has once again been accused of cheating in benchmark tests to inflate the apparent abilities of its hardware.

The South Korean titan was said to have unfairly goosed Galaxy Note 3 phone benchmarks in 2013, and faced with similar allegations about the Galaxy S4 in 2018 settled that matter for $13.4 million.

This time Samsung has allegedly fudged the results for its televisions, specifically the S95B QD-OLED and QN95B Neo OLED LCD TVs. 

These accusations were raised this month by YouTube channel HDTVTest on the S95B, and by reviews site FlatpanelsHD on the QN95B. The claims boils down to Samsung allegedly using an algorithm to detect when benchmarking software was running on the set and adjusting the color and artificially boosting luminance by up to 80 percent during the test to make the equipment look better in reviews.

According to the FlatpanelsHD report, those levels of brightness can't be sustained during normal use without damaging the TV's backlight panel. 

An algorithm to detect and hoodwink benchmarking software is just what Samsung was accused of employing in those earlier examples. The chaebol never denied or admitted any wrongdoing, instead arguing it wasn't obligated to tell consumers if its devices included code that allowed it to best benchmarks. 

Samsung's alleged actions to cheat at TV benchmarks were only noticed because of its reliance on industry benchmarking standards, which test HDR TVs by focusing on 10 percent of the screen. When FlatpanelsHD testers changed their benchmark size to nine percent they were able to bypass the alleged algorithm and get what they claimed is an accurate score. 

Based on its findings, FlatpanelsHD's Rasmus Larsen wrote that the Samsung TV it tested "has a significantly over-brightened image overall. Also … peak brightness is much lower when testing with a 9 percent window."

What does Samsung have to say?

Samsung Korea told FlatpanelsHD it "will provide a software update that ensures consistent brightness of HDR contents across a wider range of window size beyond the industry standard." To the cynically minded, that sounds like Sammy making sure it's not called out next time.

When The Register reached out to Samsung for comment, a representative today said: "Samsung Electronics does not use any algorithm for the purpose of yielding specific test results."

Samsung also told us that its own test, and independent third party ones, "show that HDR content is accurately displayed on various window sizes, and not just at 10 percent." It also said peak brightness is maintained at similar levels across window sizes under 10 percent "without damaging the panels." ®

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