HTC One M8 2014-Back

Do you care about a smartphone's benchmark scores? They might have mattered to technophiles a few years back, but today the luster of fast benchmarks has kind of worn off. We know our super phones are faster than they've ever been. But to smartphone manufacturers, however, the scores still mean a whole lot—even to the point of fibbing benchmark apps to get that extra high-score.

HTC admitted to CNET that its most recent M8 is optimized to "produce the best possible performance" when tested in benchmarking apps. While HTC's outright confession might be slightly surprising, it really shouldn't change your impression of the device, which we already know to be HTC's best-ever smartphone. One little score shouldn't determine if you do or don't buy a device. Besides, benchmarking scores are never indicative of real-world experience, which is the most important thing.

Take, for example, the Moto X. It doesn't have the highest processing speed, but it's wonderfully optimized, giving users a terrific synthesis of hardware and software; the experience is fast and smooth despite being "underpowered." The HTC One (M8), despite having a "High Performance Mode," is fast regardless of what benchmarking aficionados say. Just like the Galaxy S4, which also "cheated" in benchmarking scores. Same thing goes for Samsung's Galaxy Note 3.

If you care, the High Performance Mode is in the developer settings and can be enabled and disabled manually; the feature is also only available in overseas models, so those of you in the U.S. won't be able to fool any benchmark apps. Darn. If the mode is enabled, your battery will take a significant hit, HTC said. So ask yourself: do you value imperceptible speed increases or better battery life?

HTC's full statement to CNET is below. Interpret it how you will. Benchmarks are a sham.

Benchmarking tests look to determine maximum performance of the CPU and GPU and, similar to the engine in a high-performance sports car, our engineers optimize in certain scenarios to produce the best possible performance. If someone would like to get around this benchmarking optimization there are ways to do so, but we think most often this will not be the case.

For those with a need for speed, we've provided a simple way to unleash this power by introducing a new High Performance Mode in the developer settings that can be enabled and disabled manually. The HTC One (M8) is optimized to provide the best balance of performance and battery life, but we believe in offering customer choice, as there may be times when the desire for performance outweighs the need for battery longevity.