Apple’s iPhone 6S Series Hit by Battery Life Scandal
Apple’s followers have always been eager to get their hands on the latest versions of the firm’s trademark smartphone, and with each new release fans queue up in hopes of being the first to make that coveted purchase. The recent launch of the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus was no different, and the lure of an upgrade in performance and functionality brought the Apple cult running. But when the dust settled, and everyone had time to put their new smartphones through their paces, some grumbling could be heard from Apple’s dedicated fan base. The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus promised a number of improvements, not the least of which was extended battery life. But when put to the test, the new iPhone’s battery life seemed variable at best, with some owners barely making it through the day without having to recharge their shiny new handsets.
The scandal has been dubbed CHIPgate in the trades, and it centers around the A9 processing chips used in the design of both the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. During the manufacturing process, Apple relied on two different suppliers for the chip components in their handsets – TSMC and Samsung. While the chips in question are largely the same, in field tests they demonstrated a 2% to 3% variance in actual performance. This may not seem like much on paper, but it can lead to a huge disparity in battery life depending on which chip is installed in the handset. Preliminary tests suggest the TSMC chip runs cooler and more efficiently, potentially delivering a few extra hours of use. The Samsung built chip tends to run hotter, and it could be inferred that an iPhone using this chip will experience a greater reduction in battery life. Apple has been quick to point out, however, that the 2% to 3% variance in performance falls well within the stated manufacturing specs of both the 6S and 6S Plus. This, despite anecdotal reports that the disparity can be as great as 20% between handsets.
Clocking the Hours
Of course, anecdotal evidence is just that, and it’s impossible to verify the unofficial tests that have been cited online by disgruntled iPhone customers. Still, a 2% to 3% variance can have a significant impact on battery life in daily use. To put it into perspective, that amounts to almost two and a half hours of audio playback (plus or minus) as balanced against the 80 hours promised on Apple’s own website. Apple claims these tests to be unrepresentative of normal use, asserting that “certain manufactured lab tests which run the processors with a continuous heavy workload until the battery depletes are not representative of real-world usage”, and they are “a misleading way to measure real-world battery life”. But two of the major selling points for the iPhone 6S series are its support for multitasking while delivering extended battery life. If the 6S and 6S Plus can not deliver on these crucial points, they simply fail to live up to their promise as a significant upgrade to the Apple line of smartphones. In which case, iPhone fans may well have the right to be disappointed.
As far as scandals go, CHIP gate will ultimately be little more than an unpleasant blip on Apple’s radar, and not enough of an issue to do the firm any real long term damage. Apple fans may be vocal in their disappointment, but they are also extremely loyal to their favorite tech brand. However, extended battery life is a very real concern for the public, who are increasingly demanding better, and longer lasting, performance from their smartphones. With the iPhone 6S series Apple promised just that, and initial reviews of the new line of handsets touted it as one of the most significant performance enhancements offered in the product upgrade. Failing to deliver on that promise is something of an embarrassment for the tech giant, particularly coming hot on the heels of a couple of high profile malware attacks. But in the final analysis, a 2% to 3% variance in battery life is unlikely to hamper the popularity of the new 6S and 6S Plus handsets, which have otherwise been a success on all fronts.