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Category: Android N

MobileXPRT 3 is here!

We’re excited to announce that MobileXPRT 3 is now available to the public! MobileXPRT 3 is the latest version of our popular tool for evaluating the performance of Android devices. The BenchmarkXPRT Development Community has been using a community preview for several weeks, but now anyone can run the tool and publish their results.

Compatible with systems running Android 5.0 and above, MobileXPRT 3 includes the same performance workloads as MobileXPRT 2015 (Apply Photo Effects, Create Photo Collages, Create Slideshow, Encrypt Personal Content, and Detect Faces to Organize Photos), plus a new optical character recognition-based workload called Scan Receipts for Spreadsheet.

MobileXPRT 3 is available at MobileXPRT.com and on the Google Play Store. Alternatively, you can download the app using either of the links below:



After trying out MobileXPRT 3, please submit your scores here and send any comments to BenchmarkXPRTsupport@principledtechnologies.com. To see test results from a variety of systems, go to MobileXPRT.com and click View Results, where you’ll find scores from a variety of Android devices. We look forward to seeing your results!

Justin

Notes from the lab

This week’s XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight featured the Alcatel A30 Android phone. We chose the A30, an Amazon exclusive, because it’s a budget phone running Android 7.0 (Nougat) right out of the box. That may be an appealing combination for consumers, but running a newer OS on inexpensive hardware such as what’s found in the A30 can cause issues for app developers, and the XPRTs are no exception.

Spotlight fans may have noticed that we didn’t post a MobileXPRT 2015 or BatteryXPRT 2014 score for the A30. In both cases, the benchmark did not produce an overall score because of a problem that occurs during the Create Slideshow workload. The issue deals with text relocation and significant changes in the Android development environment.

As of Android 5.0, on 64-bit devices, the OS doesn’t allow native code executables to perform text relocation. Instead, it is necessary to compile the executables using position-independent code (PIC) flags. This is how we compiled the current version of MobileXPRT, and it’s why we updated BatteryXPRT earlier this year to maintain compatibility with the most recent versions of Android.

However, the same approach doesn’t work for SoCs built with older 32-bit ARMv7-A architectures, such as the A30’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 210, so testers may encounter this issue on other devices with low-end hardware.

Testers who run into this problem can still use MobileXPRT 2015 to generate individual workload scores for the Apply Photo Effects, Create Photo Collages, Encrypt Personal Content, and Detect Faces workloads. Also, BatteryXPRT will produce an estimated battery life for the device, but since it won’t produce a performance score, we ask that testers use those numbers for informational purposes and not publication.

If you have any questions or have encountered additional issues, please let us know!

Justin

BatteryXPRT 2014 gets an update

After Android 7 (Nougat) was released on select devices this past fall, we discovered an issue with BatteryXPRT on devices running Android 7 and above. The battery life tests were completing accurately and reliably, but the test was not producing a performance score.

The problem was a result of significant changes in the Android development environment. Android 7 restricted the flags used for different target architectures when linking native code components, and that caused issues while executing part of the Create Slideshow workload. We resolved the issue by changing the linked flags. Also, we migrated the BatteryXPRT code from the Eclipse and Android SDK development environments to the up-to-date Android Studio environment. This allowed us to rebuild the app in a way that maintains compatibility with the most recent versions of Android.

Today, we’re releasing a new build of BatteryXPRT 2014 (v104) at BatteryXPRT.com and the Google Play store. Scores from this build are comparable with previous BatteryXPRT scores, and if you’re testing with a version of BatteryXPRT that you downloaded from the Google Play store, you should receive the new build via an app update.

Click here to download the new BatteryXPRT installer (330 MB) directly from our site.

For users who have limited bandwidth or trouble accessing the Google Play store, downloading the APK files (26.7 MB total) may make installation easier.

Download the updated BatteryXPRT APK (2.8 MB) directly from our site.

Download the updated BatteryXPRT Tests APK (23.9 MB) directly from our site.

If you have any questions about the update or any other XPRT-related topic, feel free to contact us at BenchmarkXPRTSupport@principledtechnologies.com.

Justin

BatteryXPRT’s future

A few weeks ago, we discussed the future of HDXPRT. This week, we’re focusing on the current state of BatteryXPRT 2014 for Android, and how the benchmark may evolve in 2017.

BatteryXPRT continues to provide users with reliable evaluations of their Android device’s performance and battery life under real-world conditions. Originally designed to be compatible with Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) and above, the benchmark continues to work well on subsequent versions of Android, up to and including Android 6.0 (Marshmallow).

Since Android 7 (Nougat) began to roll out on select devices in the past few months, our internal testing has shown that we’ll need to adjust the BatteryXPRT source code to maintain compatibility with devices running Android 7 and above. We developed the existing source when Eclipse was the officially supported SDK environment, and now we need to bring the code in line with the current Android Studio SDK.

Practically speaking, BatteryXPRT does run on Nougat, and to the best of our knowledge, battery life results are still accurate and reliable. However, the test will not produce a performance score. As more Nougat devices are released in the coming months, it’s possible that other aspects of the benchmark may encounter issues. If this happens during your testing, we encourage you to let us know.

Because MobileXPRT 2015 and BatteryXPRT 2014 performance workloads are so closely related, the next obvious question is whether MobileXPRT 2015 runs on Nougat devices. As of now, MobileXPRT 2015 does run successfully and reliably on Android 7, and this is because the most recent build of MobileXPRT 2015 was compiled using a newer SDK.

We think the best course of action for MobileXPRT 2015 and BatteryXPRT will be to eventually combine them into a single, easy-to-use Android benchmark for performance and battery life. We’ll talk more about that plan in the coming months, and we look forward to hearing your input. Until that transition is successful, we’ll continue to support both BatteryXPRT and MobileXPRT 2015.

As always, we welcome your feedback on these developments, as well as any ideas you may have for future XPRTs.

Justin

Sleep studies

Last week, we discussed the increasing complexity of power options in Android 6.0. Features such as Doze and App Standby have changed the way that the operating system manages app activity, and the wide array of UI skins used by many vendors ensures that the steps needed for pre-test configuration differ considerably from device to device.

Managing Android’s Doze feature is critical to getting a good BatteryXPRT score. To show how involved this process can be, we thought it might be helpful to present the steps for one device. Below my sig are the configuration steps we used for the Huawei Mate 8, which we recently featured in the XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight. For other phones we’ve tested, the steps have been quite different. We’re working on distilling our experience for our tips and tricks document, and the updated version of the document will be available soon. If you have any useful tips, please let us know.

Justin

Whitelist BatteryXPRT (there are two ways to do this)
1) Access Battery manager from Settings/Advanced settings or from the Phone Manager app on the home screen.
2) Select Protected apps.
3) Use the toggles beside BatteryXPRT and BatteryXPRT Tests to allow them to keep running after the screen turns off.

Configure sleep settings
1) Open Settings from the home screen.
2) Select Display.
3) Select Sleep.
4) Select Never. This may reset to a default setting on its own. In our case, it reset to 10 minutes.

Configure screen lock settings
1) Open Settings from the home screen.
2) Select Advanced settings.
3) Select Security.
4) Scroll to the bottom of the list and use the toggle to turn off Screen lock. This keeps the device screen from locking after standby periods during the test.

Staying awake

Android developers continue to respond to user demands for longer battery life. Android 6 brought a number of enhancements to improve battery life, and Android N promises even more! Device makers often add device-specific options in their customized UIs, which means the options can differ greatly from device to device. A power-conscious user has a lot more control, but with that control comes complexity.

Not that long ago, preparing a device to run BatteryXPRT was simple: turn off automatic updates, kill unnecessary backgrounds apps, and set the screen to stay awake for at least 30 minutes. That’s still the case for many devices. However, it’s often much more complex. You may have to whitelist BatteryXPRT to keep Android from killing it when the device is in standby. Always-on features may interfere with standby. Security lock timers can override screen-timeout settings for the display – and the list goes on.

We’ve been testing a lot of devices and taking notes. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll be updating the BatteryXPRT Tips and Tricks document to reflect what we’ve learned. If you’ve encountered any of these issues, we’d love to add your tips to the list, so please send them our way!

Eric

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