Mitchel Broussard, MacRumors:
The takeaway from Morrison and Evans’ videos today seems to be that while intense cases like synthetic Geekbench tests designed to push devices to their limits revealed as high as a 22% difference in battery life between devices using the two chips, real-world impacts may be much smaller depending on the mix of activities. In these specific usage patterns shown above, battery life differences between the two processors ranged from 6% to 11%.
You know how much I hate to tell you that I told you so, but I did point out that the real-world implications of the dual-sourced A9 SoCs are vastly less noticeable than benchmarking tools imply. Apple claims 10 hours of cellular web browsing; 6% of that is about half an hour. 6-11% is not insignificant, but I suspect it isn’t the kind of thing you’d really notice. I do wonder whether Apple’s tests were conducted on TSMC or Samsung hardware; perhaps they tested both and averaged the results.
Update: Matthew Panzarino over at TechCrunch received a statement from Apple:
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.
The 2-3% difference Apple is saying it sees between the battery life of the two processors is well within its manufacturing tolerances for any device, even two iPhones with the same exact processor. In other words, your iPhone and someone else’s iPhone with the same guts likely vary as much as 3%, regardless of who made them.
Reading between the lines here, Apple isn’t even saying that the processors make the 2-3% difference; they’re saying that the battery life of all shipping iPhones 6S lay within a 2-3% range of each other in real-world circumstances. That’s an incredible achievement, and demonstrates that these processors perform almost identically.
The big takeaway here shouldn’t be that there are a couple of percentage points of difference between the two bits of silicon, but that Apple has kept up with demand for the first time in forever — and that it is setting the stage for what could allow it more control over its chip design with less conflict.
I think Apple’s vastly better supply of iPhones is throwing off some of the crappier analysts who, when they didn’t see out-of-stock indications within hours of preorder availability, were a little disappointed. In reality, Apple was just able to do a better job of mitigating supply chain constraints.