New tests show small but noteworthy battery life differences between TSMC’s, Samsung’s A9 chips


There always has to be a “gate” these days, and when people couldn’t bend the iPhone 6s or 6s Plus as easily as the devices’ predecessors, well, they had to look deeper.

Enter the A9 processor, which is built either by Samsung or TSMC. At the tail-end of September it was discovered that the chips were actually different in size, with Samsung’s being 10 percent smaller than the one manufactured by TSMC. When this was discovered, it was also hypothesized that with the smaller size, it could mean that Samsung’s chip was more power efficient than TSMC’s.

One thing that was discovered soon after was that the size of the chip wasn’t a precursor to which device it was installed in, so there seemed to be a healthy amount of both chips out there in the wild.

Most recently, benchmark tests showed that the differences between the chips did exist, especially in the battery life department, but it wasn’t Samsung’s chip that pulled ahead. Instead, TSMC’s chip appeared to give the iPhone 6s or 6s Plus it’s installed in more battery life. Up to two hours of it, based on the tests.

So of course more tests were always bound to show up. This time around it’s from YouTubers putting the tests on camera. The first one is from Austin Evans, and he compared identical iPhone 6s models, but one is equipped with TSMC’s A9 processor, and the other is hosting Samsung’s variant. The results show that, under stress from the Geekbench 3 test, the TSMC processor managed to get 50 minutes more life than the Samsung-equipped model. On top of that, thermal imaging during the test showed that Samsung’s device ran a bit hotter.

Evans would go further, though, and put the same devices through another “lighter test,” this time just running an hour-long YouTube video on each handset. The results show that there’s only a one-percent different in battery drain, indicating that while heavy stress tests can result in better battery life on a larger scale from TSMC’s chip, in more real world-like situations the differences might be minimal.

Another one of the tests was put together by Jonathan Morrison. In this test, Morrison ran a 30-minute time-lapse on each handset. When it was all said and done, the TSMC chip showed an 89 percent battery remaining, while the Samsung A9-equipped model was at 84 percent. After that test, Morrison went even further and continued with a 10-minute 4K video recording, exporting that video file to iMovie, and, just for good measure, running the Geekbench 3 test. In the end, the TSMC A9 left its iPhone 6s at 62 percent battery remaining, while the Samsung A9 left its handset at 55% remaining.

These are certainly interesting tests, but if anything, and perhaps good news for the general consumer, it looks like the battery life in every day usage, and even with moderate usage, isn’t that far off between TSMC’s and Samsung’s A9-equipped models. Of course, that doesn’t make it any less interesting to see how much of a difference there is when the phones are put to their paces with more intensive testing.

What do you think of the results?

[via MacRumors; Austin Evans; Jonathan Morrison]