The Samsung Galaxy S4 is a damn fine phone. It's fast, it's big, it's thin and it's completely deserving to be in most people's pockets. But apparently that's not enough for Samsung. Samsung has gotten caught cheating benchmark tests to make itself look better. Basically, the S4 is specifically tweaked to be better at benchmarking than anything else it does.
Anandtech found that the S4 games its GPU to spit out a 533MHz clock speed in certain benchmark tests (AnTuTu, GLBenchmark 2.5.1 and Quadrant) while most every other app and game performance is limited to 480MHz (some other benchmark apps show a lower clock speed too). 533MHz obviously sounds a lot more impressive than 480MHz.
It's gets funnier. Even the S4's CPU spits out lies in certain benchmark tests. In GLBenchmark 2.5.1, the CPU clocks in at 1.2GHz and never dips below it. In GFXBench 2.7, the CPU can go to 500MHz (250MHz virtual frequency). Basically, when the S4 is in GLBenchmark 2.5.1 (and other benchmark tests), it's allowed to run in a higher performance benchmark mode, an unnatural boost to make its numbers look better in fake situations while hiding its actual real life performance.
But could it be different benchmark tests giving different results? No. Anandtech found a string that shows the S4 is hardcoded to specficailly perform better in certain apps for benchmark testing, with "Quadrant standard, advanced, and professional, linpack (free, not paid), Benchmark Pi, and AnTuTu" being mentioned:
It's not exactly putting lipstick on a pig but it's sorta like the digital equivalent of taking performance enhancing drugs for an Olympic event. This kind of shady stuff has happened with PC benchmark tests before but it's obviously cheating the system. The S4 is a fine phone without these boosts, it's weird that Samsung felt the need to fake it to prove that. For a deeper dive into what Samsung is specifically doing, head over to AnandTech.
Update: Samsung has responded with the following statement: