Apple claims iPhone 6s/Plus’ A9 battery performance only varies 2-3% between TSMC and Samsung variants in ‘real-world usage’

“Apple has addressed the spate of chatter about differences in performance between A9 chips used in its new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus,” Matthew Panzarino reports for TechCrunch.

“We’ve known for a while that some A9 chips were produced by TSMC and others by Samsung, a longtime Apple silicon partner,” Panzarino reports. “Recently, people have been pushing and prodding at devices using both chips, coming up with numbers that point to theoretical 50-minute differences in battery life.”

Apple provided a statement to TechCrunch:

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.

“Though there have been a bunch of articles and videos about how much power one chip or the other uses, the tests have largely been what Apple calls ‘manufactured,'” Panzarino reports. “Basically, they are unrealistic machine-driven tests that do not and can not reflect real-world usage.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: So, if you’re shooting a time lapse video, a feature that Apple has promoted and offered for years, and your iPhone 6s with a Samsung-stamped A9 runs out of battery significantly faster than another iPhone 6s with a TSMC-stamped A9, that’s not of concern to Apple nor is it supposed to be of concern to the customer? That’s a specific case of “real-world usage” via a feature that is offered and promoted by Apple, no less. Surely the lawyers will take note of that fact, too.

We’re not satisfied with Apple’s statement and Apple customers should not be either.

Chipgate: Did you get the good A9 or the crap A9 in your iPhone 6s/Plus? – October 8, 2015
Samsung stole trade secrets from TSMC to win Apple A9 stamping deal – August 26, 2015
TSMC sues former ex-employee over leaking trade secrets to Samsung – February 9, 2015
TSMC overtakes Samsung in FinFET, confident they will land Apple A9 orders – October 7, 2014


  1. Really! Tim and the Apple Board, it is time to man up and own a problem that clearly shows up in battery readings and thermal readings. If you stated that both chips meet your specifications and that one source is exceeding the power efficiency requirements than it does not look like there is a problem. Both are great and one is even better. Offer an iTunes gift card to anyone that feels they were cheated and they will feel better about it. Remember the way Apple handled the very first iPhone gift cards when you dropped the iPhone pricing only a month or two later? Is anyone there with real PR ability anymore? You took my suggestion back then. Try it again please!!!

        1. If you read the second-to-last paragraph of the article, TechCrunch indicate that the TSMC A9 chips are testing “in some metrics” as more efficient than Samsung’s:

          If the TSMC chips are performing at about the same level as the Samsung chips (or even a bit better in some metrics), that’s a good thing for Apple because it reduces their reliance on Samsung, a (parent) company with which it competes when it comes to the end product that the Samsung silicon powers.

    1. MDN’s perspective is entirely derived from an ITWorld article where there was ONE (1) COMPARISON and exactly TWO (2) DATA POINTS. From this ridiculously small sampling, everyone – and most especially MDN – is going to rush to judgment and, yes, to court.

      Ahh, life in America these days. Who needs critical or analytical processes, or real data, to reach a conclusion? If the story fits my ideology, or my preconceived notions, I believe it and run with it. In this case, the story fits MDN’s ongoing narrative about Samsung, so of course it gets the royal treatment.

      As for me, I seriously doubt that Apple would use two processors whose performance was significantly different. Here is the reality of a device such as an iPhone: It is composed of an aggregation of components each of which has a production tolerance. Depending on how these variations line up on any given device, there will be small differences in overall performance.

      Apple’s own testing/sampling says that this overall variance is about 2% to 3% for the iPhone 6s. That sounds about right.

      Move along… there is nothing to see here.

    1. Yes, MDN, damn you all to hell for backing Apple users first and foremost and for not whitewashing Apple’s obvious screwing of Apple customers.

      You must be new here. MDN has always stuck up for Apple users over all else, including Apple.

      1. Regular Anonymous Troll would be a more accurate handle for you.

        We are simply pressing MDN to live up to the standards that it demands of other Apple detractors. You are just a turd that oozed onto this forum.

  2. Wife and I were going in this weekend to upgrade to the new 6s, think we’ll wait until more information comes in. In truth, we could easily go another year before upgrading if needed.

    1. Yes, fsck you MDN for pointing out that using an Apple-promoted feature like shooting time-lapse video with one of their iPhone 6s units will run out of battery significantly sooner than another of their iPhone 6s units and Apple customers have no way of knowing which one they’re buying. This is all MDN’s fault!!!

  3. But we hate Samsung, and would rather wait for our iPhones on a back order if that’s what it takes to not have to settle for their garbage parts. I hope this forces Apple into more seriously considering no longer using their chips.

    1. 9 months earlier in a secret location, Samsung representatives come face to face with Tim Cook:
      Tim – So as you can see, although we still remain adversaries in the handset space we’re still willing to work with you on new chips in our iPhones as stipulated in the contract you so generously supplied us with in 2012.
      Samsung – So why did you want this meeting?
      Tim – I just wanted to go over the wording of our current agreement with you – where it says “at least 40% of chips” in the 6S model “in original batch and all future batches allowing except in exceptional circumstances” I just wanted to clarify what those circumstances might be?
      Samsung – I think that is already outlined in Section 2.1a – “Severe product defects, Unavailability of the necessary number of chips, Customer dissatisfaction etc.”
      Tim – yes that was the one that confused me “Customer dissatisfaction”?
      Samsung – Okay absolutely, we have a longstanding clause in all of our contracts that says that if customers return products in significant numbers or our partners are compelled to issue a mass recall due to customer complaints then we will allow future terms to be temporarily suspended for the course of that product’s release. May I assure you that Samsung pride ourselves on the quality of our chipset however and we feel confident that no such claim will ever be made against our chips,
      Tim – Thanks guys that really cleared things up for me…

  4. I think Apple has shot itself in its foot here. If you want to be known as the best then you should not be cutting your customers short like this, especially when they are paying such a premium for an Apple product which has resulted in over $200 billion dollars in the bank for Apple. If anyone else had done this then they would have been labeled a cheat as simple as that.

  5. If everyone really thinks the difference is significant, Apple just needs to add $25 to the price of one, and subtract $25 from the price of the other, and allow exchanges to those who give hoot.
    Of course if there was a difference charged between the two, the same complainers would say that the difference is insignificant and the price difference too great!

  6. As someone who was about to purchase a new iPhone, I don’t think this is a good enough response from Apple. I’ll admit I’m suffering from Fear Uncertainty and Doubt, and these are real fears. Yes the “tests” on YouTube are hopelessly small and entirely unscientific sample sizes, but put together with reviews like this, , and now Apple’s own admission, that there is at least a “difference” in the real world however small, they’ve sewn enough uncertainty and doubt that I will delay my purchase until I can be sure that I get a phone with the longer lasting chip.

    And I’m a Apple fan, so if I’m going to postpone my purchase, how many less loyal customers will too, in this all important “holiday quarter”?

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