System Performance

One of the more popular and pervasive beliefs in this industry is that specs increasingly don’t matter. In a lot of ways, this review isn’t really the right place to address whether or not this matters, but the short answer is that things like SoC performance matter quite a bit. Outside of the display, the SoC and RF subsystems are one of the biggest power consumers in a phone today and unlike the display or RF systems the CPU and GPU can cause short spikes of enormous power consumption. At this point, we’ve seen SoCs this year that consume anywhere between 6 to over 12 watts when faced with a full load situation. The important part here is that when an SoC uses that much power, it needs to be delivering enough performance to justify the power consumption. In order to test aspects of the phone like the SoC we use our standard suite of benchmarks, which are designed to test various real-world scenarios to get an idea of what peak performance looks like.

Kraken 1.1 (Chrome/Safari/IE)

Google Octane v2  (Chrome/Safari/IE)

WebXPRT 2013 (Chrome/Safari/IE)

WebXPRT 2015 (Chrome/Safari/IE)

In the standard web browser benchmarks, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are clearly in the lead. The difference in some cases is significant, but given that the benchmarks that we’re running here are all enormous optimization targets it's still a reasonable comparison point. In the interest of trying to avoid optimization targets I decided to look at some new JavaScript benchmarks that aren’t regularly used right now. One interesting benchmark is Ember Performance, which is a JavaScript app framework that is used in a number of popular websites and applications. This isn’t as popular as AngularJS at the moment, but in the absence of a good mobile benchmark EmberJS should be a reasonably good proxy.

EmberJS (Chrome/Safari/IE)

In this benchmark, we can see that there’s a pretty enormous performance uplift that results when you compare the iPhone 6s' to anything else out there on the market. Weirdly enough, on average it looks like Samsung’s S-Browser ends up slower here than Chrome, but it’s likely that this is just because S-Browser is using an older build of Chromium which negates the advantages of platform-specific optimizations that Samsung is integrating into S-Browser.

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Overall

Basemark OS II 2.0 - System

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Memory

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Graphics

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Web

Looking at Basemark OS II, once again Apple is basically taking the lead across the board. The differences aren’t necessarily as enormous as they are in single-threaded browser benchmarks, but the iPhone 6s’ retain a significant overall performance lead over the next best mobile devices.

Overall, in benchmarks where CPU performance is a significant influence the iPhone 6s is pretty much at the very top of the stack. Of course, Apple has also had about 6-8 months of time since the launch of SoCs like the Snapdragon 810 and Exynos 7420 so this is at least partially to be expected. The real surprise and/or disappointment would be if future Exynos and Snapdragon SoCs continue to lag behind the A9 in CPU performance.

A9's GPU: Imagination PowerVR GT7600 System Performance Cont'd and NAND Performance
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  • IanHagen - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    Would you be so kind and post some sort of source for the allegedly professional review that deemed the iPhone camera as really poor? I'll be waiting by the sea. Reply
  • hlovatt - Monday, November 2, 2015 - link

    Fantastic review, particularly liked the deep dive on the CPU.

    It must be hard to ignore the nasty comments some people make because you don't like their favourite phone as much as some other brand. Rest assured that their are many more people who appreciate your efforts than those who seem to have way too much invested in their choice of phone.
    Reply
  • FunBunny2 - Monday, November 2, 2015 - link

    -- * Especially the SoC

    So, yes or no (and show your work): the Apple Ax processors are modified ARM ref. devices simply by adding off-the-shelf functionality available to any engineer with an HDL/CAD/etc. workstation? Seems so from all the various descriptions, here and elsewhere.
    Reply
  • extide - Monday, November 2, 2015 - link

    No they are clean sheet implementations of the ARM v8 instruction set. No off the shelf ARM Cortex CPU is even remotely similar, they are all much narrower designs. This chip is honestly designed more like an Intel Core CPU than an ARM one. Too bad you can only get it in an iPhone :( Reply
  • Byte - Monday, November 2, 2015 - link

    Im a hardcore MS hore and hate Apple. But their iPhones cannot be beat. Android STILL feels like Windows Mobile phone which I i've used years before smartphone was a thing, starting with Palms. I'm a bit disappointed with the new camera, but pictures still look better on an iPhone than S6 even with Samsungs far superior screens. Android only had a short uptick when iPhones were stuck in the low screen sizes, but now Apples stronghold is insane. It will only take a paradigm shift from actual phones to challenge that, which might be very soon. Reply
  • pliablemoosethebanned - Monday, November 2, 2015 - link

    Ignore the idiots, great review guys. Reply
  • Caliko - Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - link

    With Apple's track record,

    You have a better chance building a snowman in hell than get them to pay you for something.
    Reply
  • Alexey291 - Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - link

    So you're implying that they forfeit their marketing contracts? I'm just asking because you seem to be the resident apple expert here Reply
  • Bragabondio - Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - link

    I guess, to avoid comments like the above you guys need to state in the summary if you are using Iphone, Android or s/g else as a daily driver.
    The idea is that all of us have our preferences and biases but sometimes when we like an ecosystem (or if we were more familiar with a particular ecosystem) we made decision on what is important to review based on personal preferences and biases. For example, I like a lot a CNET review of the new Apple TV where the author immediately stated he is an Android guy. So when at the end he gave it an overall score of 4 out of 5, people who are into Apple ecosystem are aware that the product was reviewed by somebody who may have different expectations about what a streamer/casual game machine should do compared to them.
    I guess most of you guys from Anandtech are into Apple so it is difficult to find somebody who can provide an alternative angle but at least you can state where you are coming from.
    The SoC of the new Iphones may be great but if I can paraphrase the Russian proverb it is not the SoC alone that makes the phone great.
    Reply
  • jospoortvliet - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    Well didn't the author write his daily phone is a HTC One M7? And compare the iPhone with it at some points? I have the One as well and he said the right things - looks like Apple has simply done a great job on almost every front. Reply

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