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Apple Claims TSMC vs Samsung A9 Chip Variants Result in Only 2-3% Difference in 'Real World' Battery Life

Over the past several days, a slew of battery tests on the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus have revealed some performance differences between models that have an A9 chip manufactured by TSMC and those with an A9 chip created by Samsung. While various benchmarking and real world usage tests have shown differences of 6 percent to 22 percent, in favor of TSMC chips, Apple says that its own testing has shown battery life variations of only two to three percent.

In a statement given to TechCrunch, Apple says that it has done internal testing and gathered customer data to determine the performance difference between the two chips in the iPhones.
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.
Apple says that early battery benchmark tests conducted by customers, such as those we shared yesterday, are not reflective of real world usage conditions. The two to three percent difference that Apple has seen in data gathered from customers is "well within its manufacturing tolerances" and is a level of variation that could be seen between two devices with the same chip.

Apple's statement on real world usage reflects what recent YouTube tests have revealed. Side-by-side battery tests comparing a TSMC iPhone and a Samsung iPhone did not show differences as dramatic as benchmark tests have shown, but those videos are also not quite indicative of real world usage results. On the MacRumors forums, opinions on battery life have been highly mixed. While some users with Samsung chips have reported poor battery life, others have not reported issues.

Wi-Fi Calling Now Available for AT&T Users

AT&T has flipped the switch on Wi-Fi calling, making it available to customers with eligible plans that are running iOS 9. MacRumors has received tips from customers who were able to activate Wi-Fi calling and we were able to activate the feature on our own iPhones. A number of readers in our forums are also having success activating Wi-Fi calling.

Wi-Fi calling is a feature that lets calls be placed over a wireless connection when cellular connectivity is poor, functioning much like an AT&T M-Cell does now. It's similar to Apple's own FaceTime Audio feature, which also routes calls over a Wi-Fi connection.

AT&T customers can turn on Wi-Fi calling by going to the Phone section of the Settings app and toggling on the Wi-Fi calling feature. From there, there are a set of steps to walk through, including entering an emergency 911 address. Wi-Fi calling is available on the iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus, and 6s Plus running iOS 9.

Customers who want to use Wi-Fi calling need to have AT&T HD voice features enabled, along with an Internet connection. Wi-Fi calling can be used for voice calls within the United States, Puerto Rico, and United States Virgin Islands at no charge. Long distance global voice calls will be charged standard long distance rates.

Once the setup process is complete, customers are receiving notifications letting them know the Wi-Fi calling feature will be available after a short activation period.

AT&T promised to launch Wi-Fi calling alongside iOS 9, but last week announced the feature was delayed due to its inability to get an FCC waiver that would temporarily allow the carrier to forgo offering support options for deaf and hard-of-hearing customers. On Tuesday of this week, AT&T finally received the waiver that it needed to move forward with Wi-Fi calling.

Related Roundup: iOS 9
Tags: AT&T, Wi-Fi calling

Samsung and TSMC iPhone 6s Chips Show Smaller Real-World Battery Impacts Compared to Benchmarks

The news that Apple dual sourced its A9 chips for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus has been a point of discussion over the past few weeks, especially when new battery tests on the phones pointed towards the TSMC chips outperforming those made by Samsung. Following the news, several YouTubers have begun creating videos to compare the dual sourced chips in both battery-straining tests and basic real-world scenarios.

In the first video, Austin Evans compared identical models of the iPhone 6s -- one with the Samsung chip and one with the TSMC chip -- and calibrated their screens so they had the exact same brightness. After running the GeekBench 3 battery test until they both ran down to 50 percent battery life, Evans discovered that the TSMC iPhone 6s lasted fifty minutes longer than the Samsung version, "resulting in a nearly 1.5 times difference in battery life." Thermal imaging also showed the Samsung device running hotter than the TSMC version.

Evans also ran a lighter battery test, playing the same hour-long YouTube video on each device to see how a more day-to-day scenario would affect each chip. In the end, he saw only a one percentage point difference in battery drain, noting that while heavy-use cases could see the TSMC chips come out on top, highlighting the differences between benchmarks and real-world usage.

The next video is from Jonathan Morrison, who compared each chip by running a 30-minute timelapse with all the same settings and brightness running on each device. After the test, the Samsung iPhone 6s was down to 84 percent battery, while the TSMC version came in on top with 89 percent remaining. Morrison continued testing the battery strength of each chip with a ten-minute 4k video test, exporting the video file in iMovie, and finishing off by running GeekBench 3. At the end of the full set of tests, the iPhone with the Samsung chip was at 55 percent battery while the TSMC device was at 62 percent.

The takeaway from Morrison and Evans' videos today seems to be that while intense cases like synthetic Geekbench tests designed to push devices to their limits revealed as high as a 22% difference in battery life between devices using the two chips, real-world impacts may be much smaller depending on the mix of activities. In these specific usage patterns shown above, battery life differences between the two processors ranged from 6% to 11%.

Related Roundup: iPhone 6s
Tags: Samsung, TSMC, A9
Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Buy Now)

Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad 2 References Found in OS X 10.11.1 Beta

The third OS X El Capitan 10.11.1 beta seeded to developers yesterday contains references to a Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad 2, as spotted by French website Consomac. Apple could ship the next-generation keyboard and mouse accessories alongside the new 4K 21.5-inch Retina iMac expected to launch next week, although the exact release date remains uncertain.

keyboard_with_imac copy
Apple's current-generation Wireless Keyboard and Magic Mouse

A new Apple Wireless Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2, each featuring Bluetooth 4.2 and rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, first appeared in FCC filings in August. Apple also registered several new web domains related to the term "Magic Keyboard" in September, including,, and

Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad 2 references in OS X 10.11.1

Apple currently sells an Apple Wireless Keyboard, Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad, each powered by two AA batteries, so these newly uncovered accessories are in all likelihood next-generation versions. The new Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad 2 could have Force Touch, which is built into new MacBooks, while the inclusion of Touch ID is a more unlikely possibility.

Harry Potter Enhanced Editions Now Available Exclusively on iBooks

Apple today announced that enhanced editions of all seven books in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling are now available exclusively through the iBooks Store around the world for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac.

The enhanced Harry Potter books feature the full original text, interactive animations, detailed artwork and annotations from Rowling. There are also exclusive custom covers for each title, custom Harry Potter typefaces and new section headers and drop caps.

Harry Potter Enhanced Editions are available in English for $9.99 each in 32 countries, while pre-orders begin today for French, German and Spanish versions, which will be available on November 9 in 18 additional countries.
“I’m thrilled to see the Harry Potter books so beautifully realised on iBooks for the digital world; the artwork and animations in these enhanced editions bring the stories alive in a delightful new way,” said J.K. Rowling.

“Harry Potter fans are going to love how their favorite stories come to life,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “J.K. Rowling’s legendary series is perfect for enjoying on your iPad or iPhone and we’re thrilled to offer them exclusively on the iBooks Store.”
Harry Potter digital books were previously only available for purchase through the Pottermore shop that J.K. Rowling developed in partnership with Sony.

Jony Ive Discusses His Lasting Memory of Steve Jobs, New Role as Chief Design Officer

Today at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit, Jony Ive sat down with director JJ Abrams and film producer Brian Grazer in a panel titled "Changing Worlds, Inventing Worlds" and spoke about his lasting memory of Steve Jobs and his new role as Chief Design Officer.

Image via Vanity Fair

Ive said he had messy feelings about Jobs when he died and knew of the "incredible complexity" of his attributes, but that in the four years since his death most of those attributes have receded. Since then, Ive believes he's been left with something that is "just him."
Quite honestly, what’s remained, I never would have predicted four years ago. What’s remained is almost unremarkable, but what’s remained is his very simple focus on trying to make something beautiful and great. And it really was simple. There wasn’t a grand plan of winning, or a very complicated agenda. That simplicity seemed almost childlike in its purity. And it’s true.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so happy, as I saw him—this very simple kind of joy—when he would realize, “This is actually working out. This could be great.” It was just the simplicity of that.
That simplicity stands in "stark contrast" to the way Jobs is being portrayed in films like the upcoming Steve Jobs, according to Ive. He notes that Jobs had a sense of civic responsibility to make something good that contributed to humanity and culture.

When asked about Jobs portrayal in Steve Jobs, Ive noted that he "didn't recognize this person at all." He went on to say that the way someone is portrayed can be "hijacked" by people who aren't close friends or family.

Ive also commented on his new role as Chief Design Officer, saying that he "should have done this years ago" and that he hasn't felt "this happy and creative in years and years." Ive's new role, which he officially assumed on July 1, allows him to be more hands-off with day-to-day operations in addition to focusing on new ideas and future initiatives. Ive's day-to-day management of the design team has been turned over to Alan Dye, vice president of user interface design, and Richard Howarth, vice president of industrial design.

Tag: Jony ive

TSMC's A9 Chip Outperforming Samsung's in Early iPhone 6s Battery Benchmarks

Following the launch of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus last month, it was discovered that Apple is dual sourcing the A9 chip for the new devices from both TSMC and Samsung, with the chips from the two companies measuring at slightly different sizes due to different processes used in manufacturing the chips. As users began to determine which chips were used in their devices, data began to point toward a 60/40 split in favor of TSMC, although the ratio has shifted toward 50/50 as more data has been obtained.

Benchmarks have suggested there is little if any difference in chip performance between the two A9 variants, but some recent battery testing (via Engadget) is hinting at the possibility of significantly better battery life for models with the TSMC-manufactured A9 chip.

We should caution that data points 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 significant amounts of interest in our discussion forums and elsewhere.

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.

Geekbench battery tests on TSMC (left) and Samsung (right) iPhone 6s Plus variants
Ran this test a couple times and results were consistent. Always about a 2 hour difference in duration. Both phones were tested using the same backup, same settings. Also tried testing them as new phones and results were similar.
We asked John Poole of Primate Labs, the developers of Geekbench, for any insight into the dramatic differences being observed in some cases, and he noted there have been rumors of TSMC's 16-nanometer process being "superior" to Samsung's 14-nanometer process in power consumption. He was, however, surprised by the amount of difference in observed battery life considering the various components have essentially identical performance benchmarks. Ideally, further controlled testing can be performed to offer a more accurate comparison between the variants.

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Related Roundup: iPhone 6s
Tags: Samsung, TSMC, A9
Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Buy Now)

Apple Seeds Third OS X El Capitan 10.11.1 Beta to Developers and Public Beta Testers

Apple today seeded the third beta of an upcoming OS X El Capitan update to developers and public beta testers for testing purposes, just over one one week after releasing the second OS X 10.11.1 beta and a week after the public release of OS X El Capitan on September 30.

The new beta, build 15B30a, is available through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store and through the Apple Developer Center.

The first beta of OS X 10.11.1 introduced support for a range of new emoji included in Unicode 8, like cheese wedge, taco, burrito, popcorn, middle finger, unicorn head, and more. Other betas appear to include under-the-hood fixes that are not immediately apparent.

It is not clear what the first update to OS X El Capitan will bring to the new OS aside from updated emoji, but it's likely to be a minor update that includes bug fixes and performance improvements for issues encountered following the operating system's official release. According to Apple's release notes, the beta offers stability, compatibility, and security improvements.

Related Roundup: OS X El Capitan
Tag: OS X 10.11.1

Barclays Planning to Launch Apple Pay Support in UK in Early 2016

Barclays Apple Pay UKApple Pay launched in the United Kingdom in July at more than 250,000 locations across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but Barclays remains notably absent from the group of banks supporting the mobile payments service.

Nevertheless, Barclays remains committed to supporting Apple Pay in the future. Barclays CEO of Personal and Corporate Banking Ashok Vaswani today told customer Mike Jobson by email that the bank plans to roll out Apple Pay in early 2016.
We have signed up for ApplePay and will launch it very early in the New Year. We truly value your custom and hope that you continue to bank with us particularly since we are launching this shortly.
A high-level executive at Barclays previously stated the bank anticipated "imminent" support of Apple Pay, and the bank later publicly confirmed it will support Apple Pay in the "future," but no specific launch timeframe had been provided.

Barclays is the only major financial institution of the "Big Four" banks in the U.K. that has yet to adopt Apple Pay. Participating banks include Bank of Scotland, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, M&S Bank, MBNA, Nationwide, NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander and Ulster Bank.

MacRumors has contacted Barclays for comment.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
Tags: Barclays, United Kingdom

Apple Announces Beats Pill+ Speaker Available in November for $229

Apple today announced a new Beats Pill+ Bluetooth wireless speaker with a simplistic design, stereo active 2-way crossover system and 12-hour battery life. The speaker will be available for $229.95 in black or white through the Apple Online Store and authorized Beats retailers beginning next month.

Beats Pill+ Bluetooth Wireless Speaker will retail for $229.95 (Image: The Verge)

The new Beats Pill+ companion app will enable users to control the speaker using a smartphone, with features including the ability to control music from two Bluetooth sources and sync two Beats Pill+ speakers together for either simultaneous or dedicated right and left playback.
"When you obsess about sound the way that we do at Beats, portable Bluetooth speakers can be very tricky," said Beats President Luke Wood. "We spent countless days, weeks, months testing for that perfect combination of form and function - small enough to travel but still big enough to feel the emotion of the music. That’s what you get with Pill+.”
The new Beats Pill+ replaces the original Beats Pill unveiled in October 2012, and is the company's first new speaker since being acquired by Apple for $3 billion in May 2014. The new Beats Pill+ is larger than the original Pill speaker, but smaller than the recalled Beats XL speaker, and weighs 1.5 pounds (0.68 kg).

Beats Pill Plus App
Beats Pill+ companion app for iOS and Android

The Verge went hands-on with the new Beats Pill+ speaker, calling it "the most attractive looking and sounding speaker that Beats has ever made" after listening to a brief demo of songs from various genres, including tracks by The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar, Tom Petty and punk rock band PUP.
More important than the look and build is the sound, and judging from my brief demo the Pill+ is likely the best-sounding Pill ever. That’s apparently all thanks to what’s called a two-way active system, meaning that amplifiers are built into the speakers — two in fact, one for each pair of woofer and tweeter. This helps better assign the different frequencies of music to the right parts of the speaker, resulting in better sound.
The Beats Pill+ is equipped with both Lightning and USB ports on the back for charging your iPhone or other devices. The speaker has a rubberized power button and volume controls and a metallic Beats logo that doubles as a play/pause button. There is also a line in audio port.

Disney Artists Go Hands-On With Upcoming iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

Apple today sent a few iPad Pros over to Disney, where Disney animators were able to use them alongside the Apple Pencil to test out the iPad Pro's drawing and sketching capabilities in a professional environment.

Disney Story Artist Jeff Ranjo shared a Periscope that demonstrates the iPad Pro in action, and several images of the Disney team's drawings were shared on Twitter. The Disney team was using a beta version of popular drawing app Procreate, which has been updated to work with the iPad Pro, and an iPad Pro version of Paper by Fiftythree was also shown off.

In the Periscope, Ranjo was impressed with the grip of the iPad Pro's screen when used with the Pencil, and he also was a fan of the palm rejection features. When drawing on an iPad Pro, the palm of a hand can be rested on the screen, but it's still responsive to zoom gestures. At the end of the video, which is well worth watching to see the iPad in action, he says "Let's order a bunch of them."

Several additional photos were shared by Disney Product Manager Paul Hildebrandt. Disney Story Artist Paul Briggs used the iPad Pro to sketch Olaf from the movie Frozen, while longtime Disney artist Paul Felix drew classic Disney character Mickey Mouse.

Apple's iPad Pro, Pencil, and Smart Keyboard will launch in November. Apple has not yet provided an exact release date for the new tablet, but recent rumors have suggested it could debut early in the month.

Related Roundup: iPad Pro
Tag: Disney
Buyer's Guide: iPad Pro (Don't Buy)

AT&T Receives FCC Waiver Needed for Wi-Fi Calling, No Launch Date Yet

Earlier this week, AT&T announced that it had delayed its promised Wi-Fi calling feature as it had not been able to obtain an FCC waiver that would allow it to temporarily forgo offering support options for deaf and hard-of-hearing people. Following that announcement, the FCC has now granted AT&T's waiver request, allowing the carrier to proceed with its Wi-Fi calling launch plans.

The waiver is available on the FCC website [PDF] and grants AT&T the right to delay implementing a teletypewriter (TTY) service for the deaf until December 31, 2017. AT&T plans to instead use a newer form of communication, real-time text (RTT) as an alternative, and the waiver will allow it to avoid using a TTY service until its RTT service is fully operational.

In response to the FCC's waiver grant, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs Jim Cicconi gave MacRumors the following statement:
We're grateful the FCC has granted AT&T's waiver request so we can begin providing Wi-Fi calling. At the same time we are left scratching our heads as to why the FCC still seems intent on excusing the behavior of T-Mobile and Sprint, who have been offering these services without a waiver for quite some time. Instead of initiating enforcement action against them, or at least opening an investigation, the agency has effectively invited them to now apply for similar waivers and implied that their prior flaunting of FCC rules will be ignored. This is exactly what we meant when our letter spoke of concerns about asymmetric regulation."
In its original statement on the waiver delay, AT&T called out Sprint and T-Mobile for implementing Wi-Fi calling without obtaining similar permissions from the FCC, a sentiment that is again echoed in the above statement. Both T-Mobile and Sprint have allegedly implemented their Wi-Fi calling features without requesting a waiver for TTY rules.

Though AT&T now has its waiver, the company has not yet provided a timeline on when its subscribers can expect to have access to Wi-Fi calling. Ahead of the waiver fiasco, AT&T made Wi-Fi calling available during the iOS beta testing period, suggesting it is ready to debut in the near future.

(Thanks, Ryan!)

Tag: AT&T