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New MobileXPRT 3 installations may crash on Android 11

We recently received a tech support inquiry about problems with new MobileXPRT 3 installations on some Android 11 phones. The tester installed MobileXPRT 3 on a selection of phones running Android 11, and the app crashed immediately upon opening. We were able to reproduce the issue on multiple phones in our lab, and currently know that the issue may happen on the Google Pixel 3, Google Pixel 4a 5G, Google Pixel 4XL, Google Pixel 5, and the OnePlus 8T (running Android 11 with an Oxygen OS skin).

MobileXPRT 3 continues to run without issues on Android 9 and 10 phones. When we updated an Android 10 phone with an existing MobileXPRT 3 installation to Android 11, we found that the benchmark ran successfully. This suggests a lack of fundamental incompatibilities between MobileXPRT 3 and current versions of Android 11. Because some of our lab techs experienced crashes immediately after the app asked for permissions, we think it’s possible that new permissions-setting requirements in Android 11 are causing the problem.

We’re currently working to isolate the problem and identify a course of action. We’ll share more information here in the blog as soon as possible. If you’ve encountered this problem in your testing, we apologize for the inconvenience, and we’re thankful for your patience as we work towards a solution.

If you have any information you’d like to share about running MobileXPRT 3 on Android 11, please let us know!

Justin

Transparent goals

Recently, Forbes published an article discussing a new report on phone battery life from Which?, a UK consumer advocacy group. In the report, Which? states that they tested the talk time battery life of 50 phones from five brands. During the tests, phones from three of the brands lasted longer than the manufacturers’ claims, while phones from another brand underperformed by about five percent. The fifth brand’s published battery life numbers were 18 to 51 percent higher than Which? recorded in their tests.

Folks can read the article for more details about the tests and the brands. While the report raises some interesting questions, and the article provides readers with brief test methodology descriptions from Which? and one manufacturer, we don’t know enough about the tests to say which set of claims is correct. Any number of variables related to test workloads or device configuration settings could significantly affect the results. Both parties may be using sound benchmarking principles in good faith, but their test methodologies may not be comparable. As it is, we simply don’t have enough information to evaluate the study.

Whether the issue is battery life or any other important device spec, information conflicts, such as the one that the Forbes article highlights, can leave consumers scratching their heads, trying to decide which sources are worth listening to. At the XPRTs, we believe that the best remedy for this type of problem is to provide complete transparency into our testing methodologies and development process. That’s why our lab techs verify all the hardware specs for each XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight entry. It’s why we publish white papers explaining the structure of our benchmarks in detail, as well as how the XPRTs calculate performance results. It’s also why we employ an open development community model and make each XPRT’s source code available to community members. When we’re open about how we do things, it encourages the kind of honest dialogue between vendors, journalists, consumers, and community members that serves everyone’s best interests.

If you love tech and share that same commitment to transparency, we’d love for you to join our community, where you can access XPRT source code and previews of upcoming benchmarks. Membership is free for anyone with a verifiable corporate affiliation. If you have any questions about membership or the registration process, please feel free to ask.

Justin

A new MobileXPRT 3 build is available

Today, we published an updated MobileXPRT 3 build, version 3.114.2.1, on MobileXPRT.com and in the Google Play Store. The new build fixes an issue that was causing crashes on Xiaomi phones. Xiaomi holds significant market share in China, so we wanted to address the issue as soon as possible.

Xiaomi phones use a proprietary Android-based firmware called MIUI, which requires apps to communicate with the system in a specific way. When we originally built MobileXPRT 3, Android allowed an app’s code to send implicit messages calling certain classes of actions. In MIUI, the code must broadcast explicit messages that call the exact action necessary (e.g., waking from sleep). The requirement can improve security by allowing more granular levels of user control, and save power by restricting the number of unseen tasks that apps can run in the background without a user’s knowledge. The new MobileXPRT 3 build code complies with MIUI’s requirements. Other Android-based platforms will likely require explicit messages in the near future, so we’re hoping the new build will be relatively future proof.

We also fixed a few small UI bugs and improved the accuracy of the system hardware information that the app reports when a user submits a set of results. None of these changes affect performance, so scores from prior MobileXPRT 3 builds are comparable to those from the new build. If you have any questions or comments about MobileXPRT 3, please let us know.

Justin

BatteryXPRT provides the objective battery life data that shoppers need

Over the last few weeks, we’ve discussed the capabilities and benefits of TouchXPRT and CrXPRT. This week, we’d like to reintroduce readers to BatteryXPRT, our app that evaluates the battery life and performance of Android devices.

Battery life for phones and tablets has improved dramatically over the last several years, to the point where many devices can support continuous use for well over a full work day on a single charge. This improvement is the result of advances in battery hardware technology, increased processor efficiency, and smarter utilization of software services by the operating system. Battery life has increased to some extent for most device categories and price points. However, enough of a range remains between devices at each level that access to objective battery life data is valuable for device shoppers.

Without BatteryXPRT, shoppers must rely on manufacturer estimates or full rundown tests that don’t resemble the types of things we do with our phones and tablets every day. A rundown test that surfs the web continuously for over 15 hours reveals which devices last the longest performing that specific task. It doesn’t tell you which devices last the longest over a full day performing a variety of common activities such as web browsing, watching videos, browsing and editing photos, playing music, and periodically sleeping. During BatteryXPRT’s battery life test, the app executes those same types of tasks and produces a performance score based on the speed with which a device completes each task.

BatteryXPRT provides an intuitive user interface in English and Simplified Chinese, and easy-to-understand results for both battery life and performance. Because your data connection can have a significant effect on battery life, BatteryXPRT runs in airplane mode, connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi, or connected to the Internet through a cellular data connection.

BatteryXPRT is easy to install and run, and is a great resource for anyone who wants to evaluate how well an Android device will meet their needs. If you’d like to see test results from a variety of Android devices, go to BatteryXPRT.com and click View Results, where you’ll find scores from many different Android devices.

If you’d like to run BatteryXPRT

Simply download BatteryXPRT from the Google Play store or BatteryXPRT.com. The BatteryXPRT installation instructions and user manual provide step-by-step instructions for configuring your device and kicking off a test. We designed BatteryXPRT to be compatible with a wide variety of Android devices, but because there are so many devices on the market, it is inevitable that users occasionally run into problems. In the Tips, tricks, and known issues document, we provide troubleshooting suggestions for issues we encountered during development testing.

If you’d like to learn more

The Exploring BatteryXPRT 2014 for Android white paper covers almost every aspect of the benchmark. In it, we explain the guiding concepts behind BatteryXPRT’s development, as well as the benchmark’s structure. We describe the component tests, the differences between the app’s Airplane and Network/Wi-Fi modes, and the statistical processes used to calculate expected battery life.

Justin

Three years of the XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight

February marked the three-year anniversary of the XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight, and we now have over 150 devices in our Spotlight library! We started the Spotlight to provide consumers with objective information on device hardware and performance, and to provide vendors with a trusted third-party showcase for their gear. Each week, we measure and verify the Spotlight device’s specs ourselves, never relying on vendor-published data. We also test each device with every applicable XPRT benchmark, and publish the data that lets consumers know how a device measures up to its competitors.

Over the past three years, we’ve featured a wide array of devices:

  • 49 phones
  • 28 laptops
  • 26 tablets
  • 24 2-in-1 devices
  • 12 small-form-factor PCs
  • 7 desktops
  • 6 game consoles
  • 6 all-in-ones

 

In addition to a wide variety of device types, we try to include a wide range of vendors. We’ve featured devices from ACEPC, Acer, Alcatel, Alienware, Amazon, Apple, ASUS, Barnes and Noble, BlackBerry, BLU, CHUWI, Dell, Essential, Fujitsu, Fusion5, Google, Honor, HP, HTC, Huawei, Intel, LeEco, Lenovo, LG, Microsoft, MINIX, Motorola, Nokia, NVIDIA, OnePlus, Razer, Samsung, Sony, Syber, Xiaomi, and ZTE.

XPRT Spotlight is a great way for device vendors and manufacturers to share PT-verified specs and test results with buyers around the world. We test many of the devices that appear each year and will test—at no charge—any device a manufacturer or vendor sends us. If you’d like us to test your device, please contact us at XPRTSpotlight@PrincipledTechnologies.com.

There’s a lot more to come for the XPRT Spotlight, and we’re constantly working on new features and improvements for the page. Are there any specific devices or features that you would like to see in the Spotlight? Let us know.

Justin

More, faster, better: The future according to Mobile World Congress 2019

More is more data, which the trillions of devices in the coming Internet of Things will be pumping through our air into our (computing) clouds in hitherto unseen quantities.

Faster is the speed at which tomorrow’s 5G networks will carry this data—and the responses and actions from our automated assistants (and possibly overlords).

Better is the quality of the data analysis and recommendations, thanks primarily to the vast army of AI-powered analytics engines that will be poring over everything digital the planet has to say.

Swimming through this perpetual data tsunami will be we humans and our many devices, our laptops and tablets and smartphones and smart watches and, ultimately, implants. If we are to believe the promise of this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona—and of course I do want to believe it, who wouldn’t?—the result of all of this will be a better world for all humanity, no person left behind. As I walked the show floor, I could not help but feel and want to embrace its optimism.

The catch, of course, is that we have a tremendous amount of work to do between where we are today and this fabulous future.

We must, for example, make sure that every computing node that will contribute to these powerful AI programs is up to the task. From the smartphone to the datacenter, AI will end up being a very distributed and very demanding workload. That’s one of the reasons we’ve been developing AIXPRT. Without tools that let us accurately compare different devices, the industry won’t be able to keep delivering the levels of performance improvements that we need to realize these dreams.

We must also think a lot about how to accurately measure all other aspects of our devices’ performance, because the demands this future will place on them are going to be significant. Fortunately, the always evolving XPRT family of tools is up to the task.

The coming 5G revolution, like all tech leaps forward before it, will not come evenly. Different 5G devices will end up behaving differently, some better and some worse. That fact, plus our constant and growing reliance on bandwidth, suggests that maybe the XPRT community should turn its attention to the task of measuring bandwidth. What do you think?

One thing is certain: we at the Benchmark XPRT Development Community have a role to play in building the tools necessary to test the tech the world will need to deliver on the promise of this exciting trade show. We look forward to that work.

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