The iPhone has historically been an incredibly popular device and Apple undoubtedly plans on selling quite a few of their latest flagship, the iPhone 6s. In order to ensure that they were able to have stock on hand to actually sell, Apple split production on their Apple A9 processors between two companies – Samsung and TSMC. According to reports, the split is around 60/40 in favor of TSMC. It’s recently come to light that all A9 chips are not created equally, and you won’t know which iPhone 6s you have until you’ve already bought it.
Teardown and reverse engineering site Chipworks found the two different processors during their teardowns of the iPhone 6s. From their findings the Samsung A9’s are on 14nm chips while the TSMC’s are 16nm. The TSMC is also very slightly larger than the Samsung, coming in at 104.5mm2 vs. 96mm2.
The differences do not end there, however. In a series of tests run independently of one another, it seems that the Samsung chip has some problems. Some users found that the Samsung chip drained the battery faster, while others found it ran hotter than the TSMC chip. To add further insult to the Samsung chip, other tests found that the TSMC A9 chip ran slightly faster than its Samsung counterpart.
Would Samsung deliberately sabotage the chips they made for their frenemies over at Apple? Highly unlikely. They need as much money as they can get to keep paying for all of the lawsuits brought on by Apple. According to Chipworks, it’s more likely that Apple was running into sourcing issues:
On the other hand, for Apple to go through all the trouble of dual-sourcing a custom designed part and launching on day one with both parts, suggests major sourcing problems. For cost and power reasons, there is little reason to run a larger die, unless the smaller die was not available at the right volumes.
At this point, there aren’t many ways to determine which processor your phone has. There’s an app on the App Store, Lirum Device Info Lite, that will show you some basic information about your iPhone. You’ll be most interested in the section marked “Model.” If you’ve got model N66MAP or N71MAP, you’ve got the TSMC chip. N66AP or N71AP on the other hand, you might want to see if you can exchange your phone.
iPhone 6s owners – have you noticed a faster than usual battery drain or any of the other issues associated with the Samsung A9 chip? Let us know in the comments or on your favorite social media site.