iPhone 6s Plus Got Longer Battery Life with TSMC A9 over Samsung Chip?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Not even after the craze for iPhone 6s and 6s Plus cools down, it is discovered that the new devices’ A9 chip is sourced from two separate vendors-TSMC and Samsung. As Apple didn’t make any comments yet, speculations have been emerging. Tests comparing Samsung chips to TSMC chips especially on its battery life remains to be heat, data from users is indicating:

1. The TSMC A9 16nm process chip spans 2 more hours' battery life.
2. The Samsung chip burns through battery almost 20 per cent faster.
3. The TSMC chip runs much cooler than its Samsung alternative in a number of online tests.

Samsung’s version is made using the 14nm FinFET process, while TSMC A9 using 16nm FinFET process. In general, the smaller the nanometer is, the more transistors can be fit on the die with less heat, and therefore the more powerful the chip is. Specifically, Samsung A9 is by 8% smaller than TSMC A9 node, which indicates better density on Samsung’s 14nm node, thus, Samsung chip is supposed to perform better than TSMC, and power-friendlier theoretically. While in various tests from geeks or experts, the results seems not to be controversial.

We may have every reason to trust Apple as a serious manufacturer, there are even more serious people who have got the two A9 variants tested in terms of performance. Hints at the possibility of significantly better battery life for models with the TSMC-manufactured A9 chip seems prevails in news.

App as Lirum Device Info Lite and some others are even conducted to help identify which A9 it is with. Here from the results displayed on the model information screen we can see very obvious:
Samsung chip
A developer called Hiraku Jira has developped a identifying program and charted results of every devices tested. As it showed, 70% of 6s phones have the TSMC processor while only 40% of 6s Plus phones have the TSMC inside.

Samsung chip vs TSMC chip

N66AP (6s plus) or N71AP (6s) - Samsung chip vs N66MAP (6s plus) or N71MAP (6s) - TSMC chip

Taken into consideration of Apple’s sales data as great as 300million devices in the first week, his data seems not less persuasive at all. Besides, if you rush to the Apple store to change for a TSMC A9 phone, you might have to keep testing until you get the desired one.

Data proofs remain few at this time and controlling for variables to accurately focus the comparison only on the differences in the A9 is difficult, but these limited tests are generating heated discussions in asserted forums.

Perhaps the most dramatic result comes from a reddit poster who compared Samsung and TSMC versions of the iPhone 6s Plus using the battery life test included in Geekbench 3, finding the TSMC version lasting nearly two hours longer than the model with Samsung A9 chip. What’s worse, Samsung chip burns through battery almost 20% faster. 

Samsung vs TSMC on battery life

More signs of difference in battery life between TSMC and Samsung variants are showing as tests and discussions continue. A Chinese site MyDrivers has ran tests comparing otherwise identical phones as they performed JavaScript and video playback tasks and watched the rates of battery depletion. As with the Geekbench testing, MyDrivers saw measurably faster battery drain on the Samsung iPhone 6s compared to the TSMC version. Follow-up testing using AnTuTu Benchmark also showed the Samsung model tending to run up to a few degrees hotter than the TSMC version.

Samsung vs TSMC on Antutu
TSMC iPhone 6s (left) benchmarking slightly higher and with more battery remaining (77% vs. 71%) than Samsung version (right) after 12 runs of AnTuTu Benchmark

A mixture of opinions and tests are attempted, as it is, dramatically or slightly different seems more to be an issue of personal attitude. The interest people showed for this issue just demonstrated their anticipation and excitement for the two stunners. More excitedly, we suddenly realize that around us there is a cluster of tech geeks who are knowledgeable of manufacturing techniques and master of research and study in this mobile phone industry.

Apple has issued an official statement on the matter, saying that the battery life tests being used to demonstrate these differences paint an "unrealistic" picture of real-world battery life. Full statement here:

"With the Apple-designed A9 chip in your iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus, you are getting the most advanced smartphone chip in the world. Every chip we ship meets Apple's highest standards for providing incredible performance and deliver great battery life, regardless of iPhone 6s capacity, color, or model.

Certain manufactured lab tests which run the processors with a continuous heavy workload until the battery depletes are not representative of real-world usage, since they spend an unrealistic amount of time at the highest CPU performance state. It's a misleading way to measure real-world battery life. Our testing and customer data show the actual battery life of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, even taking into account variable component differences, vary within just 2-3% of each other."

Notably, not just processor, Apple sources multiple components from different manufacturers, which makes it difficult to control for variables in these tests. Besides, difference was less pronounced when using tests that weren't constantly stressing the CPU.

With all these info in mind, if you already have it, do you plan to get into the Apple store for a new TSMC chip one? If you are drawing the rein of urge, congrats to you! Now you have something more to help you evaluate whether to purchase or not. Share with us your ideas.


battery life , iPhone 6s plus , Samsung chip , TMSC chip , Apple , smartphone chip