After my old post (iPhone6s – ‘Dreams & Facts’ – 3 months ahead) where I was trying to predict which would be the new features of this year iPhone release, I think is time to talk about some of the changes and ‘surprises’ that we got.
One of the good changes was the change of aluminum alloy used in the housing, moving from previous 6000 series to stronger 7000 series. This was a very smart movement from Apple, because after introducing it on their Apple Watches, and with a year of experience manufacturing it, the iPhone user got a stronger housing which dissipates any trace of last year ‘Bendgate’ (which I personally think from my own experience was vastly exaggerated); and not only that, harder against tiny scratches.
This will be very interesting for all those users who like to enjoy the feeling of the raw metal in their hands without any case in between; but also who don’t want to care if they leave their expensive devices on any surface. Anyhow, due the inconvenient protrude camera, I’ll continue using a case, to have a fully flat back side.
A part of slighly heavier feeling (few grams due newer 3D Touch screen and Taptip Engine added), and few tens of millimeters increase in size, the users will not see any difference between the iPhone6 and newer iPhone6s housing.
For the most curious of the inners parts, we can see here a full exploid view of iPhone6s Plus:
On top of that, Apple also renewed their SoC with a newer A9, faster and even more powerful that last year 64-bit A8.
It is never mentioned, but Apple also increased the inner RAM embedded inside the SoC up to 2GB (LPDDR4 type), something that most users were long time waiting for.
This upgrade finally aligns the whole mobile devices product line since last year first iPad Air 2 with 2GB:
- iPhone6s / 6sPlus (2015): 2GB RAM
- iPad mini 4 (2015): 2GB RAM
- iPad Air 2 (2014): 2GB RAM
- iPad Pro 1 (2015): 4GB RAM
The drawback of this change is that Apple made a turning point; and as they normally optimize the iOS and apps for current devices specs, all old models before 2014 could become obsolete (‘slow and sluggish as a brick’) in only one year cycle (next iOS10). Of course, only Apple has the last word about it; but the reality is that today the iOS9.0.2 becomes slower in (not so old) iPhone6/6Plus devices as many users are reporting.
And again, this is not all, it looks like we will have another ‘gate’ this year, and it will be the “ChipGate“:
I may understand that for a company as Apple, who sells tens of millions of new iPhone’s every year, to get the right supply chain alliances must be quite difficult; so this year Apple splitted the production of the newer A9 between TSMC and Samsung. This should not be an issue if they would use the same lithographic processes, but that was not the case (TSMC 16nm FinFET Plus, Samsung 14nm LPP (low-power plus) 2nd gen FinFET); which is one of the reasons of difference in silicon size of the above picture.
So, today we may find 4 types of “non-declared/selectable” iPhones on the shops:
- N66mAP: iPhone 6s Plus with A9 chip manufactured by TSMC.
- N66AP: iPhone 6s Plus with A9 chip manufactured by Samsung.
- N71mAP: iPhone 6s with A9 chip manufactured by TSMC.
- N71AP: iPhone 6s with A9 chip manufactured by Samsung.
Of course, the user cannot choose, neither select them, and after some intensive tests made, looks like the TSMC variant can provide around 25% more battery lifetime compared with Samsung variant; and even lower internal temperature rise.
After the whole debate created, Apple had to officially acknowledged it; but they argued that those huge differences are only in extreme test cases, not typical daily user cases:
“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.”
I am not fully agree with that as Different lithographic process are directed related to power consumption.
Today the iPhone6s/6sPlus is a extremely powerful machine (even already compared with Macbook Air’s performance), and Apple also promotes it as a portable video editing computer (to make and edit even 4K videos); then, I don’t find fair that for a so expensive product (up to $1000 for the full highest iPhone6sPlus 128GB model) some buyers will have to “play to lotto” to see if they get a Samsung or TSMC A9 inside.
Besides of that, I would share with your a couple of cool X-Ray pictures of the two models 😉 , there you’ll see below the battery big ‘block’ the new Taptic engines introduced this year; which reduced battery size with respect last year; but not battery expected lifetime due other systems improvements.
This is the iPhone 6s:
And the iPhone 6s Plus:
As final though, regarding the iPhone 6s ChipGate of 2015, I only hope that Apple rectifies and for next year iPhone 7 (2016), they use a single SoC foundry or exactly the same lithographic process for all products made with coming A10 (and some sources already pointed to TSMC as main and only A10 source due their capability to offer a better power consumption and yield lithographic process).