TSMC vs Samsung A9 Battery Life Compared: ArsTechnica

Battery life has always been an issue with iPhones, but the dual component sourcing of the iPhone 6s A9 SoC put the whole matter into a new perspective: since early tests published on PrimateLabs’ website showed phones with Samsung chips scoring lower than those with TSMC chips, people started wondering which versions they have in their latest purchases. The issue even caught Apple’s attention, so it issued a rare comment, saying the difference between iPhone models with any combination of components is no more than 2-3%.

The guys over at Ars Technica happened to have two iPhone 6s models with A9 chips from both manufacturers, so they compared the battery life of those devices using Geekbench 3, WebGL, GFXBench GL 3.1, and WiFi browsing.


Here is what they have found: while the iPhone with the Samsung SoC had consistently lower battery life compared to the TSMC version, there was an exception — as you can see from the chart inserted above — and that was the WebGL test.

While there is a slight difference between the two devices, the test results confirm Apple’s statement, because there was no more than a 3% difference between them.

So there are definitely circumstances under which the TSMC phone will last longer than the Samsung phone, but it’s not a universal problem. A Samsung chip that’s mostly idling or even one under modest CPU and GPU load, though, is going to behave in just about the same way as a TSMC chip. And the kinds of CPU-intensive work that the Samsung chip seems to struggle with just aren’t that common on smartphones. Most of the time, iPhone 6S battery life should be similar no matter which chip your phone is using.

It should be noted — as highlighted by AnandTech earlier last week — that these tests in controlled environments have their limitations, which in Ars Technica’s case is the sample size: it involved only two devices of the more than 13 million units that are already out in the wild.

Technology enthusiast, rocker, biker and writer of iPhoneinCanada.ca. Follow me on Twitter or contact me via email: istvan@iphoneincanada.ca

  • Zeke

    Only 4 of my friends upgraded to the iPhone 6s.

    By the time they heard the news about chipgate, the app to check their chips was gone from the App Store. Instead of taking a chance of getting the Samsung chip they returned their iPhones.

    Here is what they are using now: 2 friends switched to the iPad Mini 4, one friend blew the dust off his iPhone 5s and one switched to the iPod Touch 6 gen with a mobile hotspot. 3 out of the 4 no longer have any iPhone at all.

  • Michel Plante

    How stupid from them 🙂

  • jonn

    iOS10 will need more CPU-Power
    and therefore TSMC will be better for iOS10

  • Zeke

    I don’t think my friends are stupid. I can’t blame the 4 of them for returning their iPhones. I would have done the same. When they are paying around $1500 for a 6s 128GB with Apple Care, I’d be pissed off too if I discovered I had an inferior iPhone. I’d expect and demand better from Tim and his team.

    The way Tim said, “it’s just 2 to 3 % difference”, that was really disrespectful. Totally offensive. It was really cocky of Cook to say that. My reaction was, “ok Cook how about I give you 2 to 3% less of my business. What if all the millions of us did that, gave Apple 2 to 3% of our business’, including devices, apps and iTunes. I suspect Cook wouldn’t be so ducking cocky then.

    Cook needs to apologize and replace all the Samsung chipped iPhones for free. It will never happen. So disrespectful how Apple, how Cook has handled this whole situation.

  • Michel Plante

    Still Stupid from them 🙂

  • 1His_Nibs1

    That’s unfortunate but there’s still an app to check for which chip you have. Look in the search option on the upper right of the page (3 bars) and type good chip vs. bad chip. BMSSM Battery Memory System Status Monitor. It tells you which chip you have & I used it today to check my new iPhone 6s+. TSMC (N66mAP) FTW!!!!!!!!