Chipgate: A New Controversy

October 9, 2015
By Max Buondonno

It seems that the iPhone 6 generation is prone to controversies…

According to various reports and user’s comments, some iPhone 6S and 6S Plus models ship with a TSMC made A9 chip, while some other models ship with a Samsung made chip. And this is true. Back in August, 9to5Mac reported that “Taiwan’s top court has ruled that former TSMC R&D director Liang Mong-song revealed to Samsung trade secrets that enabled it to copy the chipmaker’s FinFET manufacturing processes. The processes are used by both companies to produce the A9 chips used in the upcoming new iPhones. It was recently suggested that Apple was playing off the two companies against each other, with Samsung reportedly offering discounted prices in order to ‘grab the majority of A9 chip orders. ”

And now we welcome to the stage, “Chipgate”.

As you probably would imagine, Apple has made sure that each chip performs the same. But they don’t. You’d also think that the company made each chip the same size. But they aren’t.

The Samsung chip is 10% smaller than the TSMC chip due to the one Sammy built being a 14nm process and the TSMC chip being a 16nm process. But with all that nerd stuff aside, what it basically comes down to is the fact that all iPhone 6S models aren’t created equal (obviously).

So how does it affect the consumer? Well, famous YouTubers Jonathan Morrison and Austin Evans each made videos about the latest controversy and published them on their channels. Their results are very similar, while, at the same time, each taking different approaches at testing the devices.

You can take a look at each of the videos below.

Jonathan’s Video

Austin’s Video

As you can see from the videos, the TSMC chip performs better and doesn’t hit your battery as hard as the Samsung chip does.

But now you’re probably asking yourself, “Which iPhone do I have?”. Well, if you wanna find out, you can download a free app in the App Store called Lirum and look for your model number. If the model number is N71AP, you have a Samsung built chip in your iPhone 6S. If you have a model number of N71MAP, you have a TSMC chip inside. It’s a similar situation for the 6S Plus: if your model number is N66AP, then Samsung built your A9 chip. If your model number is N66MAP, then TSMC built your A9 chip.

After you check out which iPhone 6S you have, tweet us and let us know (we’re @mbeddedinc).

Update: It appears that the developer of Lirum has taken down the application from the App Store. A post on Facebook mysteriously explains why:

Dear users of Lirum Device Info,

We are aware of some serious issues or our Apps with the latest iOS models (iPhone 6S and iPad Air 2). Changes on the requirements for a new update to be approved are also delaying the development process (and our team is very small).

In face of such events, in 24 hours, we will take Lirum Device Info down from the App Store – until we can release a decent update. That will take a few months however – but then we promise an entire new user interface, faster updates when a new device model is released, and a lot of new features.

Until then, the app will continue to work on models equal or prior to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

Best Regards,

Rogério Hirooka
Lirum Labs

Users have commented on the post saying Apple has told the developer to take down the app. And this is very believable since Apple is known for making slick moves as this.
Update 2: According to Cult of Mac, the developer of Lirum has published the app to the App Store again thanks to popular demand.

They said in an email to Cult of Mac that “As the App was an old version, some crashes were reported, and the lack of detailed specs for the newer devices made us take the app down to avoid negative reviews, but due to popular demand, we put it back online. An update is still on the way.”

The app is available for free and for $2.99, presumably as a premium version of the app.

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