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Google blocked benchmark apps on Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro ahead of launch, but that’s not new

Google’s Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro launched to the public just over a week ago, but a controversy has been stirred up around benchmark apps having been blocked via the Play Store ahead of launch.

Benchmarking apps are often used by enthusiasts and reviewers to establish a point of comparison between different smartphones, often with a focus on CPU or GPU performance. However, ahead of the launch of Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, some noticed that Google’s new phones weren’t allowing benchmark apps like Geekbench to be installed via the Play Store.

The issue was highlighted by some on Twitter/X, as well as NotebookCheck, who found that Geekbench 6 and 3DMark were marked as not compatible with the Pixel 8 Pro in the Play Store (pictured below).

Outright blocking benchmarking apps from being installed is certainly a bold and unexpected move, but one that Google did indeed decide to go forward with.

In a statement to 9to5Google, a Google spokesperson confirmed that yes, benchmark apps were blocked on Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro ahead of the public launch. The aim behind this was to “avoid” leaks, and it was Google’s intention to unblock these apps prior to general availability of its new devices. Benchmarking apps also weren’t blocked from running on the device (or modified, as we’ve seen from other brands), as they could be sideloaded manually.

Google’s statement also notes that this practice is actually nothing new, and has been the case for the past few generations of Pixel smartphones ahead of their public launch (even before Tensor’s debut in Pixel 6, the company mentioned).

As with previous years, we blocked benchmarking apps for Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro ahead of launch to avoid benchmark and device spec leaks. These are unblocked ahead of the consumer availability of the phones. However, if reviewers want to try them sooner for reviews, they can sideload them on the phone.

Google spokesperson

Image: NotebookCheck

Notably, I couldn’t directly recall seeing Geekbench blocked when I did benchmark testing on the Pixel 6 Pro, one of the rare times our reviews included benchmark results. I did find a couple of users who found benchmarking apps marked as not compatible on the Pixel 6a shortly after its launch, as well as a mention of the same behavior on Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro by HardwareZone last year.

In any case, Google’s blocking of benchmark apps doesn’t appear to have been a malicious play on avoiding comparisons, but rather a slip-up on timing for an established practice. Including benchmark results has also, notably, fallen out of favor in many cases for reviews, which is probably why this practice flew under the radar.



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