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
Related Forum: iPhone

Top Rated Comments

ck2875 Avatar
79 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
79 months ago
So much for all the whining about wanting the Samsung.
Score: 71 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Icaras Avatar
79 months ago
This thread is going to be popcorn worthy.
Score: 56 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Nunyabinez Avatar
79 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
79 months ago
The phones with the Samsung sourced A9 also bend easier.
Score: 40 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jeffreyscurtis Avatar
79 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

affinity designer contour tool

Serif Updates Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher With New Tools and Functions

Thursday February 4, 2021 1:58 am PST by
Serif today announced across-the-board updates for its popular suite of Affinity creative apps, including Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, and the Apple award-winning Affinity Publisher for Mac, all of which were among the first professional creative suites to be optimized for Apple's new M1 chip. "After another year which saw record numbers of people switching to Affinity, it's exciting to...
studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
maxresdefault

Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak Discuss iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, Privacy, Shortcuts on Mac, and More

Saturday June 12, 2021 6:12 am PDT by
As is tradition, Apple executives Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak joined Daring Fireball's John Gruber in an episode of The Talk Show to discuss several announcements that Apple made over this weeks WWDC, including iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and a large focus around privacy. Federighi kicks off the conversation discussing the common architecture, now thanks to Apple silicon, across all of...
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
adobe photoshop sketch ipad

Adobe Removing Photoshop Sketch and Illustrator Draw From App Store in July

Saturday June 26, 2021 4:02 pm PDT by
Adobe this week reminded customers that its Photoshop Sketch and Illustrator Draw apps will no longer be available for download on iOS and Android starting July 19. Adobe plans to stop supporting the apps for existing users on January 10, 2022. In a support document, Adobe said users can easily migrate to its Fresco app, which combines many Photoshop Sketch and Illustrator Draw drawing and...
REC ASA CODE2016 20160601 205816 2745

Elon Musk Reportedly Demanded to Become Apple CEO as Part of Potential Tesla Acquisition [Update: Musk Denies]

Friday July 30, 2021 9:04 am PDT by
Tesla CEO Elon Musk reportedly once demanded that he be made Apple CEO in a brief discussion of a potential acquisition with Apple's current CEO, Tim Cook. The claim comes in a new book titled "Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century," as reviewed by The Los Angeles Times. According to the book, during a 2016 phone call between Musk and Cook that touched on the possibility of ...
homepod feature blue2

Looking to Grab a HomePod Before They're Gone? These Retailers Still Have Stock

Monday March 15, 2021 6:54 am PDT by
Apple last week discontinued the original HomePod, marking just over three years on the market for the full-size smart speaker. If you're looking to purchase the larger HomePod before it's completely gone, there are still some options online today. The biggest retailer with remaining stock on the HomePod is Apple itself, which has the White HomePod for $299.00 on its website. Space Gray is...
september 2021 event ar logo

Apple's September 14 Event Page Features AR Logo on iPhone

Tuesday September 7, 2021 9:23 am PDT by
Apple this morning announced a digital-only event that will be held on Tuesday, September 14, and if you view the event webpage on an iPhone, you can tap on the logo to open up Apple's Safari AR viewer and you'll see the three-dimensional logo move in real-time in the real world. Just open up the event site on an ‌iPhone‌ or iPad and tap right on the logo to open up the AR version. The...
iphone 11 night mode photos

Apple Reveals New Night Mode Photo Feature Exclusive to iPhone 11 Series

Tuesday September 10, 2019 12:23 pm PDT by
Apple today announced the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and the iPhone 11 Max, all-new models that boast improved cameras, and specifically, a dramatic new Night Mode photo feature. Last year, Google introduced its impressive Night Sight camera mode, a software-based feature that allows users to take detailed pictures in dark environments using Google Pixel smartphones. Apple's new Night...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Kuo: iPhone 13 to Feature LEO Satellite Communications to Make Calls and Texts Without Cellular Coverage

Sunday August 29, 2021 7:39 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 will feature low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communication connectivity to allow users to make calls and send messages in areas without 4G or 5G coverage, according to the reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Kuo explained that the iPhone 13 lineup will feature hardware that is able to connect to LEO satellites. If enabled with the relevant...