Does your iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus come outfitted with Samsung or TSMC-built A9 processor? The answer to that question could determine how long your device will run before its battery needs recharging.

Your key takeaway is this: while the dual-sourced chips perform identically in synthetic Geekbench tests in terms of sheer CPU compute power and GPU performance, there’s a marked difference in observed battery life ranging from six to eleven percent.

You could argue the difference is barely felt in day-to-day use, but I beg to differ: energy efficiency is paramount for mobile devices and the battery-friendlier the main processor is, the longer it will run on a single charge.

Battery benchmarks

Running battery benchmarks on the devices using PrimateLabs’ Geekbench app suggests about a two-hour difference in battery performance as handset models with the TSMC-manufactured A9 chip appear to be more power efficient than those using Samsung-built A9.

Pictured below: Geekbench battery tests on TSMC, at left, and Samsung iPhone 6s Plus variants, at right.

geekbench_tsmc_samsung_a9
Tests performed by Reddit user “pw5a29”.

Both phones were tested using the same settings.

YouTuber Austin Evans ran a barrage of battery-straining tests and discovered some rather interesting results. He set the same brightness on both phones and left them running the GeekBench 3 battery test until they hit the 50 percent battery mark.

What Evans discovered was that the TSMC-built A9 lasted fifty minutes longer than the Samsung-built one, resulting in “a nearly 1.5 times difference in battery life”.

On the other hand, as Geekbench was designed to push the hardware to its limits these synthetic benchmarks tend to paint a not-so-accurate picture in terms of real-world applications.

YouTube tests

Evans then set out to highlight the differences between benchmarks and real-world usage by playing the same hour-long YouTube video on each device. The results may surprise you: he only observed a one percentage point difference in battery consumption between the Samsung and TSMC chips.

Time-lapse tests

Jonathan Morrison left Samsung and TSMC phones capturing a 30-minute Time-lapse. The TSMC model finished the task with 89 percent of juice remaining and the Samsugn model was down to 84 percent, a five point difference.

He then put both devices through their paces by having them export a ten-minute 4K footage in Apple’s iMovie application. This time around, the observed battery life difference was seven percentage points (TSMC: 62 percent battery; Samsung: 55 percent battery).

Morrison, too, had the same settings and brightness applied to both devices. The results prompted MacRumors to observe that while synthetic Geekbench tests revealed as high as a 22 percent 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 six percent to eleven percent,” wrote the publication.

JavaScript and native video playback

Chinese outlet MyDrivers ran a series of benchmarks (Google Translate) testing the phones’ real-world performance in terms of JavaScript speed and the impact of native video playback on the battery.

antutu_tsmc_samsung_a9
Image of AnTuTu results via Reddit.

Again, the Samsung version depleted the battery faster than the phone running TSMC-built A9. All told, the Samsung chip consumed more battery, around twenty percent, in JavaScript tests.

When it comes to synthetic tests, after twelve runs of AnTuTu Benchmark, the TSMC iPhone 6s had 77 percent battery versus 71 percent charge for the Samsung model.

Samsung vs TSMC

The Samsung-built A9 system-on-a-chip (part number APL0898) inside the new phones is smaller than the one built by TSMC (part number APL1022).

Physically, the Samsung package is 96mm squared and the TSMC is is 104.5 mm squared, as per Chipworks’ analysis. This is the first time an Apple-designed mobile processor came in two different sizes.

A9 size comparison Chipworks 001

In addition, Samsung’s A9 is built on the South Korean firm’s 14-nanometer process while the TSMC one is being fabbed on that company’s 16-nanometer process. Smaller process technologies yield smaller components and smaller die sizes, resulting in lower heat dissipation, faster performance and lower power consumption.

A9 manufacturing distribtution
A9 manufacturing distribution data deriver from approximately 2,500 iPhones using an iOS app by developer Hiraku Wang.

“It was a surprise to find two different application processors in two otherwise identical phones,” said Chipworks, adding that the smaller die size “shows a leadership in technology scaling for Samsung.”

In terms of battery performance—not so much.

Apple disagrees

In a statement provided to TechCrunch, Apple had the following to say:

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.

Wrapping it up

The bottom line: even though Samsung uses a smaller process technology to build those chips, its 14-nanometer process is not as efficient in terms of power consumption as TSMC’s 16-nanometer process.

Both thermal imaging and AnTuTu Benchmark (available at no charge in the App Store) also showed the Samsung device running hotter than the TSMC version.

Other than that, the two chips produce essentially identical performance benchmarks so you shouldn’t notice any difference in terms of processing and graphics speed.

And what do you guys make of all this, aside from the fact that Samsung-built A9 is less power-friendly than its TSMC counterpart? After all, Apple’s marketing department doesn’t differentiate between these dual-sourced chips as both phones are rated with the same battery life.

From your vantage point, does the difference in observed battery life worry you or is it negligible to you in terms of real-life use?

  • After all, Apple’s marketing department doesn’t differentiate between these dual-sourced chips as both phones are rated with the same battery life.

    If there really is a noticeable difference between the two then Apple should correct this and acknowledge that the TSMC chip is more efficient. If they don’t acknowledge this fact then they’re essentially potentially selling a lie.

    • Maxim∑

      they acknowledge a 2-3% difference…..

      • jaysoncopes

        But that’s not the actual difference. The difference is nearly 30%, if I understand the article and tests correctly.

      • Maxim∑

        They used an old image. One phone had a SIM card and the other didn’t so the one without a SIM had cellular data turned off which saves a lot of power.

      • Jim B

        smart

      • Shinonuke

        I see the left picture have Roger, which have cellular on, have 17% battery with a run time of 7:50. The one without sim have a 3% battery with a run time of 6:05. Which one are you saying that saves more power?

  • Yujin

    I have the Samsung chip and so far don’t see any difference in battery or performance.

    • Ryan

      How could you see a difference if your only phone is Samsung…

  • Dany Quirion

    Well i have the tsmc and csnt even get pass 6hrd of usage on my iphone 6s with light usage?

    • Islam Ȝamer

      those are 6S+ Tests not 6S

      • Dany Quirion

        Stil baterry is horrible

      • omakad

        I don’t know if I got lucky or what, but my 6s battery is way better then the 6. I used to run at below 10% by 7-8pm. I’m now going to bed at midnight with 20%. I don’t believe my habits have changed at all. Certainly it appears to be much better.

  • My iPhone 6s Plus has the TSMC Chip. yay!

    • f1ght3r

      Good for you, here have a cookie.

      • How about your sister? a Cookie wont last long. 😉

      • Jonathan Hernandez

        Burn! Nice one

      • mrgerbik

        not if you see his sister…

      • Neither will the sister if I get to her ha

      • hahahahaha

  • Of course they wont agree. If they did agree that one had better performance then it would mean they’d have to recall every phone with the Samsung chip.

  • Bugs Bunnay

    Apple doesn’t really agree because they don’t feel like dealing with customers wanting to exchange to a device with TSMC.

  • johnsm

    the chip from the dog eaters probably has an internal code that is only activated after iPhone 6s launch date, and slows down the device

    • Kyle

      I don’t get ur point.

  • Paul Selleck

    I have Samsung A9 chip. I took it off charge at 8am at 100% and I still had 11% at 10.20pm. My battery is not getting hot and the performance is super quick. Not sure if it’s anything to worry about.

    • Kyle

      Contact ur seller for a refund.

    • Tommy

      That’s not the issue. The issue is given a choice, would u choose the device with a better battery life or otherwise?

    • Coulda had 18%

      • lol, funny but still subjective to how the phone was being used through out the day.

  • misterz

    How much variability in battery life is there within chip types? If they only tested two phones, one with a TSMC chip and the other with a Samsung chip, how do we know this difference is representative of the average? More testing is needed before everyone gets excited about this.

    • Shinonuke

      You’re catching on to something. Sample size is not large enough to make an accurate conclusion.

  • mazdy

    It seems like some people will try everything to tarnish Samsung.

    • Mike

      I use to have an iPhone 5s until like 2 weeks ago when I got my Note 5. All my friends have apple devices and one of my friend got the new iPhone 6s and he said he rarely uses force touch. While I had the Note 5 all my friends couldn’t stop talking about the S Pen because of how you can draw on snapchat or take down notes. I was a little worried about the battery life but it turns out I can get 6-8 hours of screen on time which is really good! Even my dad got jealous of the new phone I got and he has the iPhone 6+. I’m not an apple or android fanboy I usually go to what has the better product. I have a 2014 macbook, apple tv, and iPad air right now. But I have to give it to samsung on the phone department as my opinion. People say it lags, freezes, get viruses, and etc. but none of that really happens. While I had my iPhone 5s jailbroken I had more problems with that and using an iPhone not jailbroken is just plain boring.

  • TotallySerious

    Anyone else getting awful standby times on the 6s? I leave it on my nightstand at 100%, wake up and it’s anywhere from 70-80%. My 5s wasn’t like this, not sure what’s causing it. I disabled Hey siri, find my friends, the “always” setting for location settings for most apps, but no bueno. Any advice?

    • Dany Quirion

      its the same for me, im gonna have it replace this weekend

    • JayDee917

      I leave all of that stuff on and end up only losing maybe 5% overnight. You should ask for a replacement.

      • TotallySerious

        Ok, thanks for your thoughts guys!

  • TheShade247

    Samsung be like

  • Mark Tesch

    Now the tricky part is trying to locate phones with the TSMC chips before actually making a purchase. #choice

  • Jonathan Hernandez

    Sabotage!

  • Sgt. ThroatPunch

    • omakad

      Unfortunately, I would not be surprised if this was true. They have lied in their own benchmarks on their own phones, why wouldn’t they do something like this with chips?

      • Mike

        Samsung Note 5 > iPhone 6s+

  • omakad

    So they do acknowledge that there is a 2-3% difference at normal use. Whatever that is. If you are hitting the CPU at 100% at all time, I’m sure that difference would be even greater. I was wondering when we’ll have 6s gate and here it is. This will become new band gate. Who will profit from it? It will be one of these YouTubers. Good for them. Bad for Apple. So what’s the name of the new gate/gazi? Who’s got a good suggestion?

    • Xee

      Samsung Gate.

  • singhay559

    If this is true then apple reminds me of the government. They can say or do what they want and people will still buy into their bs.

  • n0ahcruz3

    This S version is plagued with problems, home button overheating, screen unresponsiveness. What else is there to uncover?

  • John

    Then people will rage at apple and force them to give them a TSMC chip, basically meaning they will change the whole phone.That will be so much money. #NEXT_VW

  • Most of these tests are crap, a good exaple is Jonathan Morrisons Video. These iPhone have differen setups as you can tell by the apps you see on the homescreens. Real testing means that they are all using the same setup, meaning all have to be set up without any software exept the benchmark software.
    In the video you can also see one big fault when testing 4k video recording, the iphones did not record the same scene. To get exact date the should fas in the same directin to record the dame scene.

    So this time trust Apple when they say those chips have 1-2% differences.

  • J.J.

    Apple: Wave of hand, “The multiple confirmations are not real. Nothing is wrong. But more iPhones”