Samsung Electronics’ flagship Galaxy S22 smartphone has taken a battering from reports of hobbled performance and has seen carriers half its price at home in South Korea just weeks since its launch, hurting its image as an iPhone rival.
Consumers have complained – and even filed a class-action lawsuit – about the handset maker advertising what it called its most powerful smartphone yet with scant detail about performance management software that they say drastically slows the premium device when using processor-intensive applications.
Such are the complaints that the Korea Fair Trade Commission last month began investigating the world’s biggest phone vendor.
The controversy represents a blow to Samsung’s reputation for high-end handsets – and potentially its finances – as it tries to make up for two years of premium sales that missed analyst estimates and reverse a decline in market share.
“The dispute will inevitably be a big hit to Samsung’s credibility,” said analyst Lee Seung-woo at Eugene Investment & Securities.
At the heart of complaints is Samsung’s Game Optimising Service (GOS) which manages device performance during gaming to prevent overheating and preserve battery life. The manufacturer introduced the software in 2016, just months before it pulled its premium Galaxy Note 7 following a series of battery fires.
GOS automatically limits handset performance during gaming but also during the use of other processor-intensive applications, said Geekbench, a widely used performance scorer, which found the software slowed the S22’s processor by as much as 46%.
The extent to which GOS slows the S22, the lack of details about the software in marketing materials, and the inability to disable it set social media alight.
“This is an unprecedented, crazy issue that can’t be excused in any way,” ITSub, a YouTuber with 2.1 million subscribers who specializes in gadgets, said in a YouTube post.
Samsung said it issued an update to allow users to disable the software with no risk to safety. It also said it would continue to invest to innovate in both hardware and software.