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iPhone 6s with TSMC chip shown to run cooler, offer better battery performance than Samsung A9 processor models [Videos]


We’ve heard and read a lot about Apple going with two different manufacturers for the A9 chip in its iPhone 6s. Some models ship with a processor made by TSMC while others come with a Samsung-made component. While you’d expect that Apple would ensure both are built to offer comparable performance, it appears that may not be the case. It’s already been revealed by Chipworks that the Sammy model is 10% smaller, but if a couple of videos recently published are anything to go by, you might be better off with a TSMC model…

Well-known tech YouTubers, Austin Evans and Jonathan Morrison both uploaded videos showing how they tested the TSMC and Samsung models against each other and ended up with the same conclusion: You’ll get better battery life from the TSMC model.

Jonathan Morrison ran a number of tests with both phones starting at 100% to see which drained the fastest. After shooting 4K video for an extended period of time, exporting the resulting 10 minute video in iMovie and running a couple of benchmark tests, the TSMC model had 62% battery left. The model using Samsung’s chip finished with 55%.

While 7% difference may not seem like much, running those same tests again with the same results would leave you with 24% on one, and just 10% on the other. In real world use, that could mean the difference between having battery life left at the end of the day, and not having any.

Austin took a slightly different approach to battery testing, by running the Geekbench 3 battery test with both screens set to the same brightness to see how long it would take each phone to hit 50% battery. The TSMC model lasted a full 50 minutes longer than the Samsung model, it also ran at a much cooler temperature.

Geekbench is typically much heavier on the processor than normal use, so Austin also played the same 1-hour long video on both phones to see how they compared with real-world video streaming. Here, the difference was just 1%. The TSMC model used 14% battery, while the Samsung model used 15%.

After watching both videos, and seeing the tests used, I think it’s safe to say that — for the average consumer — it won’t matter too much which model you end up with. After all, you can’t know which chip is inside your iPhone until after you’ve bought it, and the typical real-world tests showed minimal difference. However, if you’re someone who likes to push your iPhone to the limits; recording 4K video or playing graphically intense games, you may want to hope you get the TSMC version, because when the chips are pushed hard, the Samsung one doesn’t cope as well.

If you want to find out which chip your device has, you can download a free app called Lirum on the App Store which can tell you (or this one is free).

UPDATE: Lirum have announced that they pulled the app from the App Store claiming “We are aware of some serious issues or our Apps with the latest iOS models (iPhone 6S and iPad Air 2).” Whether that means its chip-detection tool is faulty or not, is yet to be seen. The app will be redeveloped and re-released in a few months.

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  1. nathanwise - 7 years ago

    The app referenced is actually $2.99. Is there a free version I’m missing?

    • tomtubbs - 7 years ago

      Lithium info lite

      • iSRS - 7 years ago

        The chip manufacturer is greyed out on the lite version, as far as I can tell

    • louiethelug72 - 7 years ago

      Lirum devise info lite

      There is a free app

  2. louiethelug72 - 7 years ago

    When it comes to battery life , i’s a HUGE Deal..!!!!

  3. nathanwise - 7 years ago

    Found it….here is the link to the light version

    Lirum Device Info Lite – System Monitor by Rogerio Hirooka

  4. atokosch - 7 years ago

    Just like I post when this was originally found out. You pay the price of power when you make something smaller and faster. There are trade offs with doing this. I do get that Some people might say well then why does battery life stay the same when going to a new phone, it’s because Apple optimizes everything to keep that same battery life. it’s because Apple designed the chip with that die size to have x power consumption and when they made it a little smaller since it was not optimized for the smaller die size it takes just a little more power to do computations faster.
    I am currently a sophomore electrical engineering student and I learned this all about a month ago and it makes so much sense.

    • Martin Rosinski - 7 years ago

      Actually in general shrinking the die size will result in lower power consumption, and higher clock speed headroom. There’ll be other process differences at play, because all things being equal smaller transistors. The chip would have been designed for a 14nm process, whereas Samsung would have chosen to manufacture it with the stopgap half-node of 16nm, which *should* have resulted in a slightly hotter-running processor.

    • rnc - 7 years ago

      No, use less power when you make something smaller.

      Making it faster, yes, but those chips aren’t “faster”.

  5. khakimzhan - 7 years ago

    It would be super helpful, if there was a way to find out the manufacturer PRIOR buying device, initializing it and downloading an app

  6. 89p13 - 7 years ago

    After downloading the free version of Lirum – it doesn’t show the chip manufacturer. Upgraded to the paid version and got the same story!

    Dave Your $$$$ – the App is a waste of memory and $$ – If you buy the Paid Version!

    • khakimzhan - 7 years ago

      Free version does show you chip manufacturer. Moreover, the main page will show you the manufacturer, it depends on the number of your model

    • rafterman11 - 7 years ago

      Apple would never allow that because then they would get stuck with the “bad” versions stacking up as people gravitated to the “good” model over time.

    • Rio (@Crzy_rio) - 7 years ago

      You dont need to buy anything. Lirum Lite shows the chip model on the HOME Page. Dont go to the 2nd page.

      On the Home Page where it shows the space used, you will also see
      Model: N71AP or something liek that. This is how you tell what chip you have.

  7. srgmac - 7 years ago

    This is kind of lame since you have no idea which chip you’re getting when you buy your phone and cannot request a specific one…

  8. tush4r - 7 years ago

    Should I worry about this? iPhone 6S has yet not arrived to me.

    • Arin Failing - 7 years ago

      If you’re not a power user, no. If you are, then every drop of battery life is important. So, to answer your question, you’d need to answer it yourself: does every drop of battery matter to you?

      • tush4r - 7 years ago

        Mostly it’s going to be plugged-in to a Mac for app development. I guess if the battery is an issue, then probably not a thing I should consider.

  9. standardpull - 7 years ago

    The short of it is that phones with Samsung chipsets really need water cooling to be effective.

  10. Hong Hai Vuong - 7 years ago posted the same news but does offer you a free way to check your CPU manufacturer : you just need to download “Battery Memory System Status Monitor” from the Appstore. Launch the app and go to the system tab. If it says N66AP you have a Samsunbg chip, if it’s N66mAP, then it’s TSMC. FYI, it seems I have a Samsung chip but that fine for now because:
    – I get the same usage as I did with my iphone 6 if not more
    – it has been pointed that that tests between the 2 iphones are not on the same basis: one of the phone has a SIM inside (the Samsung one). The TSMC doesn’t. You’d have to use similar iphones with a similar configuration eg clean install.

  11. rogifan - 7 years ago

    Wow seems like somebody is making a lot of money off this. is no conclusive evidence that phones with Sampson chips are worse. In fact just last week people were saying the Samsung phones were better because they were 14nm and TSMC was 16nm. Now everyone wants a TSMC phone. How about people just buy and enjoy their phones and not worry about what processor is inside?

  12. kylejamesrussell - 7 years ago

    Look at the model

    N66AP (6s plus) or N71AP (6s) – Samsung chip
    N66MAP (6s plus) or N71MAP (6s) – TSMC chip

  13. Cliff C (@CliffRC82) - 7 years ago

    That app is not showing me the chip maker using iOS 9.1 beta

    • Arin Failing - 7 years ago

      I’m on the 9.1 beta, too, and it’s there. look for the chip name (see video [or the countless comments] for reference).

  14. mytawalbeh - 7 years ago

    Like everything coming from samsung!

  15. Joseph Shtekler - 7 years ago

    was removed i tried this morning and a massage said it was removed

  16. airmanchairman - 7 years ago

    This probably explains why Apple retained the services of the larger-die-size TSMC chip, which the Samsung handily beats in the nanometer scale stakes, where smaller is better.

  17. jrv6 - 7 years ago

    15% drained vs 14% drained is 7% worse

  18. Carlos Hurtado - 7 years ago

    ….and lirum is now gone from the Apple Store. hmmmmm…

  19. This all just reminds me of how a year or 2 ago I was worrying about which display my Macbook Retina 15 Macbook had (LG or Samsung). There was a lot of controversy over the screen displays saying that the LG screens looked washed out if I can remember correctly. Luckily I wasn’t affected by this since I waited another year or two to get mine. This is ridiculous though and both phones should be using the same processor. Makes me nervous to purchase one now -_-

  20. newfoldenefc - 7 years ago

    Like the Lirum app, the “System Pro” app also tells you which chip you have, and it’s also FREE. Note that it’s NOT able to be found by searching the App Store (another censoring by Apple?), but the link direct to the App Store app works:

  21. eizan70 - 7 years ago

    I just went on app store on my iPhone 6s plus and found both versions of Lirum available for download. Dowloaded free. I have the TSMC chip. From comments here it seems most people are finding the samsung chip?

  22. Jeshan Simpson - 7 years ago

    anyone using iphone 6s model A1633 with this TSMC chip N71MAP ????