iPhone 6s Battery Test Shows Samsung-Sourced A9 Processor Lagging Behind TSMC, Possible Performance Degradation

It recently came to light that the custom A9 processor Apple is using in its iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus handsets is being dual sourced from Samsung and TSMC. If that's the case, does it matter which one you get? There's evidence to suggest that it does, both in terms of raw performance and battery life.

Before we get into that, let's back up a moment and look at each chip. According to the folks at Chipworks, Samsung is likely using a 14nm manufacturing process resulting in a die size that's about 10 percent smaller than the one being produced by TSMC, which is believed to be using a 16nm FinFET process.

iPhone 6s Rose Gold

"From a benchmarking point of view, the smaller die size shows a leadership in technology scaling for Samsung," Chipworks noted.

Be that as it may, it looks like TSMC's larger 104.5mm2 chip is giving iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus users better battery life than Samsung's smaller 96mm2 processor. We're not talking about just a few minutes, either.

A forum member at Reddit posted links to a pair of live tests on a Chinese-language website that compared the two chips. The first test showed the Samsung chip consuming around 20 percent more battery, while the second test showed the TSMC-based iPhone 6s posting slightly faster benchmark numbers and lower temps.

There's also a thread on MacRumors' forums comparing the two chips. Based on some benchmarks sprinkled throughout the thread, it appears that the TSMC-built A9 chip offers about 2 hours more battery life than Samsung's A9 processor.

Lirum Device Info Lite

If you own an iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus and want to know which processor you have, head to the App Store and download Lirum Device Info Lite - System Monitor. The app will list your phone's model. For iPhone 6s owners, N71AP indicates a Samsung chip while N71MAP indicates a TSMC part. On the iPhone 6s Plus, N66AP means it's running a Samsung A9 processor, while N66MAP means its a TSMC chip.