Apple is downplaying reports that the iPhone 6s gets inferior battery life when its A9 processor is supplied by Samsung instead of TSMC.
Apple often sources its components from multiple suppliers, and in this case it’s relying on two manufacturers—Samsung and TSMC—to produce the A9 chip inside the iPhone 6s, as confirmed by Chipworks last month. Earlier this week, benchmark tests began popping up on Reddit and MacRumors showing significant battery life differences between the two sources.
One test showed Samsung’s chip consuming 20 percent more battery life, while another test showed a “nearly 1.5 times difference in battery life.” Samsung’s chip also ran hotter than the TSMC version in these benchmarks, both conducted with GeekBench.
While Apple hasn’t exactly disputed those test results, the company claims they don’t accurately portray real-world battery life. “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,” Apple said in a statement to Ars Technica. “It’s a misleading way to measure real-world battery life.”
Apple then pointed to its own tests and customer data, which show iPhone battery life varying by just 2 percent to 3 percent, even with different component sources. (You can see which chip you have by running Lirum Device Info Lite and looking under “hardware model.” N66AP and N71AP are Samsung, whild N66MAP and N71MAP are TSMC.)
The impact on you at home: Again, Apple hasn’t denied that TSMC chips fare better when running at full throttle for prolonged periods. The company is merely saying that humans don’t use their phones that way. Still, other tests show Samsung and TSMC chips varying by closer to 5 percent with more realistic use cases, such as recording timelapse and exporting 4K video. It’s not as drastic a difference as the benchmarks, but something to be aware of if you’re planning to push the iPhone 6s to its limits.