Smartphones have come a long way when it comes to performance and computation. With the rise in the number of people depending on their phones to get most of their work done, there has been a steep increase in the demand for higher processing power.
Most Android flagships in recent times have an octa-core processor and come with more RAM than your fingers can count. Despite the sheer raw performance of these phones, you may have come across an additional high-performance mode of some sort that claims to help boost things even further.
We will be exploring more about this feature in this article to see if the supposed high-performance mode actually makes your phone faster.
What Is High-Performance Mode?
Although not much is known in detail about what the high-performance mode toggle really does to your device, we can make a few educated guesses. For starters, it bumps up the CPU and GPU performance to the highest your phone can provide.
In the world of installing custom ROMs and rooting your phone, a few kernels end up overclocking your phone’s CPU to squeeze every last bit of performance out of it. However, since this is a feature that a few OEMs have started providing natively, it’s safe to assume that it doesn’t actually overclock your device, subjecting it to risk.
Instead, a few things as trivial as selecting the high-performing cores instead of the smaller ones, and utilizing 100% of your phone’s CPU in short bursts to avoid overheating, all contribute to gains in performance. The high-performance mode can also help speed up a game you’re playing by suspending other background tasks.
In essence, no, the high-performance mode doesn’t unlock any hidden capabilities of your phone to provide magical performance. At the same time, however, it may significantly improve gaming performance on your phone if you usually have lots of background processes running.
How to Enable High-Performance Mode
At the time of writing, only a select few manufacturers have incorporated a high-performance mode in their phones. Samsung, OnePlus, Oppo, and Realme, all have a toggle buried in the menus that you can enable.
The way you access this option may differ slightly depending upon which phone you’re using. You can usually find this toggle in battery or power settings.
For OnePlus devices running OxygenOS, navigate to Settings > Battery > Advanced Settings and turn on the High Performance Mode toggle. Since ColorOS shares a similar codebase, you may find the option under the same menus on Oppo and Realme phones.
Does High-Performance Mode Actually Boost Performance?
While it’s neat that smartphone manufacturers are starting to hand out power-user features to their consumers, does the high-performance mode really make a difference? We put it all to the test by observing benchmark numbers, gaming performance, and everyday usage.
We used a OnePlus 9RT for testing and as our daily driver, any changes in performance would be quite noticeable. The device has a Snapdragon 888 processor, and an Adreno 660 GPU backed up by 12GB of RAM, these are all specifications representative of a high-end smartphone.
We used Geekbench 5 and AnTuTu Benchmark for a more technical and detailed overview of device performance before and after enabling the high-performance mode toggle.
While benchmarks are an easy way to rank your phone based on its performance, take these numbers with a grain of salt. There are a lot of variables that affect these numbers, which is why even phones with the same processor have different results sometimes.
We ran all the benchmarks on the same phone with a high battery level and spaced them out to allow the device to cool down a bit. Geekbench 5 is a reliable benchmark tool that calculates your phone’s single-core and multi-core performance.
The phone saw a significant bump in the single-core performance with the high-performance mode enabled but surprisingly accounted for a lower multi-core performance. This makes sense because high-performance mode focuses all of your phone’s power on just the task at hand, ignoring unnecessary background processes.
There are many things that AnTuTu Benchmark measures including CPU and GPU performance, memory and UX score, and much more. The story remained the same while testing performance using AnTuTu Benchmark. The phone retained its CPU score but saw a significant jump in GPU score.
Real-World Gaming Performance
Benchmarks may be exciting to run, but they are not representative of actual performance. Most benchmarks only stress your phone’s CPU and GPU for as long as they run, while gaming sessions can last hours on end.
We played some of the most graphically demanding games with and without the high-performance mode enabled, and the results are quite… anticlimactic. Both Call of Duty Mobile and Genshin Impact provided a smooth gaming experience for the first 30 minutes after which the latter started dropping frames. The results remained consistent even with the high-performance mode turned on.
In our understanding, gaming performance is affected more by the automatic CPU throttling that your phone does in order to avoid overheating, rather than insufficient power itself. The high-performance mode might improve the gaming experience on lower-end phones, but so far, only the more expensive and higher-end phones have been blessed with this feature.
When it comes to regular day-to-day usage consisting of browsing social media apps, capturing photos, and occasionally multitasking, the high-performance mode did not bring any noticeable improvements.
As stated previously, flagship phones already have no trouble keeping up with moderate to high usage. We left the toggle turned on for an entire day and could only notice a slightly faster battery drain.
It Doesn’t Matter if You Have the Right Phone
Our main takeaway from all these tests is that the high-performance mode seems redundant on flagship devices given just how well these phones perform regardless. Sure, we saw higher numbers in benchmarks, but everyday use and gaming performance remained the same.
We’d love to see this option roll out to the more budget-oriented devices that could actually benefit from it. As long as you plan on buying a device with the right specifications for your use, the high-performance mode is just a novelty to have, and its absence shouldn’t bother you.