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_tsmc_samsung_a9

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.

More signs of a battery life difference between TSMC and Samsung variants come from Chinese site MyDrivers (via reddit), which ran a series of tests [Google Translate] 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 [Google Translate] using AnTuTu Benchmark also showed the Samsung model tending to run up to a few degrees hotter than the TSMC version.

antutu_tsmc_samsung_a9

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

While these early synthetic benchmarks and processor-intensive tests do hint at the possibility of somewhat better power efficiency for the TSMC A9 over the Samsung A9, any impact on real-world performance has yet to be firmly established. Posters in our forums are sharing their general impressions based on their testing and daily usage, yielding a mixture of opinions. Users will no doubt continue their testing, however, in attempting to determine just how visible or invisible these internal variations in the latest iPhones really are in daily use.

Those interested in seeing which variant of the A9 is included in their new iPhones can use an app such Lirum Device Info Lite, which displays on the Model Information screen whether the device has a Samsung (N66AP for 6s Plus or N71AP for 6s) or TSMC (N66mAP for 6s Plus or N71mAP for 6s) chip.

Tags: Samsung, TSMC, A9

Top Rated Comments

ck2875 Avatar
70 months ago
Remember a week ago when everyone was saying they were going to return their TSMC devices for Samsung devices?
Score: 84 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MysteriousStain Avatar
70 months ago
So much for all the whining about wanting the Samsung.
Score: 71 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Icaras Avatar
70 months ago
This thread is going to be popcorn worthy.
Score: 56 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Nunyabinez Avatar
70 months ago
People without a background in statistics should not use the term significant so causally. With an N of 1 you can't claim a statistically significant difference. There may be real differences, but anecdotal crap like this just fuels clicks and wild irresponsible posting.
Score: 44 Votes (Like | Disagree)
D.T. Avatar
70 months ago
The phones with the Samsung sourced A9 also bend easier.
Score: 40 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jeffreyscurtis Avatar
70 months ago
HMMM.... One phone has a SIM installed and is activated on cellular and one has no SIM.
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

jon prosser imac 2021colors

Prosser: 2021 iMac to Come in Five Colors, Apple Silicon Mac Pro to Resemble 'Stacked' Mac Minis

Wednesday February 24, 2021 7:26 am PST by
Hit-and-miss leaker Jon Prosser has today alleged that the upcoming 2021 iMac models will offer five color options, mirroring the colors of the fourth-generation iPad Air, and revealed a number of additional details about the Mac Pro with Apple Silicon. In a new video on YouTube channel FrontPageTech, Prosser explained that the redesigned iMacs will come featuring options for Silver, Space ...
2021 mbp sd slot feature2

Kuo: New MacBook Pro Models With HDMI Port and SD Card Reader to Launch Later This Year

Monday February 22, 2021 8:52 pm PST by
Apple plans to release two new MacBook Pro models equipped with an HDMI port and SD card reader in the second half of 2021, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who outlined his expectations in a research note obtained by MacRumors. The return of an SD card reader was first reported by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman last month. "We predict that Apple's two new MacBook Pro models in 2H21 will have...
m1 mac mini

M1 Mac Users Report Excessive SSD Wear

Tuesday February 23, 2021 7:07 am PST by
Over the past week, some M1 Mac users have been reporting alarming SSD health readings, suggesting that these devices are writing extraordinary amounts of data to their drives (via iMore). Across Twitter and the MacRumors forums, users are reporting that M1 Macs are experiencing extremely high drive writes over a short space of time. In what appear to be the most severe cases, M1 Macs are sai...
iphone 12 pro display video

BOE Rumored to Supply iPhone 13 Display Panels After iPhone 12 Failures

Monday February 22, 2021 9:54 am PST by
Display manufacturer BOE will be one of the main suppliers of OLED panels for iPhone 13 models, according to a new report today from Taiwan's Economic Daily News. BOE is said to be working with touch panel manufacturer General Interface Solution (GIS), part of the Hon Hai Group to develop OLED panels. Multiple iPhone 12 rumors suggested that BOE would supply some panels for the devices,...
flat mbp 14 inch feature yellow

Redesigned 14-Inch MacBook Pro Expected to Feature Brighter Mini-LED Display With Slimmer Bezels and More

Thursday February 25, 2021 7:48 am PST by
Apple plans to unveil new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with Mini-LED-backlit displays in the second half of this year, according to industry sources cited by Taiwanese supply chain publication DigiTimes. The report claims that Radiant Opto-Electronics will be the exclusive supplier of the Mini-LED backlight units, while Quanta Computer is said to be tasked with final assembly of the...
anker magsafe powercore battery pack

Anker Releases MagSafe-Compatible Battery Pack for iPhone 12 Lineup

Tuesday February 23, 2021 7:49 am PST by
Following rumors that Apple is working on a MagSafe battery pack for iPhone 12 models, popular accessory maker Anker has beaten Apple to the punch with the release of its PowerCore Magnetic 5K Wireless Power Bank. First previewed at CES 2021, the PowerCore battery pack magnetically attaches to the back of any iPhone 12 model and provides 5W of wireless charging. With a 5,000 mAh capacity,...
iPad Pro Mini LED

New iPad Pro and MacBook Models With Mini-LED Displays Again Rumored to Launch This Year

Monday February 22, 2021 9:32 pm PST by
Taiwanese company Ennostar will begin production of Mini-LED backlight units for an upcoming 12.9-inch iPad Pro in the late first quarter or second quarter of this year, according to industry sources cited by DigiTimes. Ennostar is a holding company that was jointly established in January 2021 by LED-related manufacturers Epistar and Lextar Electronics. Apple is expected to unveil the new ...
First Look Big Sur Feature2

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 to Prevent MacBooks From Being Damaged by Third-Party Non-Compliant Docks

Thursday February 25, 2021 10:07 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.2.2, the fourth update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November. macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 comes two weeks after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.2.1, a bug fix update. The new ‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌ 11.2.2‌ update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences....
steam apple logo

Valve Ordered to Give Apple Information on 436 Steam Games As Part of Epic Games Legal Case

Thursday February 25, 2021 1:50 am PST by
Valve, the makers behind popular game distribution platform Steam, will be forced to hand over aggregate historical sales, price, and other information on 436 games hosted on the store to Apple, as part of the Apple vs. Epic Games antitrust case. As reported in a paywalled report by Law360, during a virtual discovery hearing on Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas S. Hixson ordered that...
scott forstall original iphone

Epic Games 'Attempting to Locate' Former iOS Chief Scott Forstall to Testify in Ongoing Legal Battle with Apple

Tuesday February 23, 2021 4:22 am PST by
As part of its ongoing legal battle, Epic Games is now seeking testimony from Apple's former iOS software chief, Scott Forstall. Forstall left Apple in 2013, in what was widely reported at the time to have been a forced exit, largely because of the botched early launch of Apple Maps. Since then, Forstall has kept a very low profile and has only made a few media appearances in the past few...