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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  • akdj - Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - link

    Hi Josh and Ryan,
    Many, MANY thanks for the insight and in depth review. I've just finished my second read (it was late last night I noticed the review and read through) and your experiences mimic mine. With a single exception. I'm a business owner, have been over 26 years now and use phones for the business and personal. I also outfit employees so I have a chance to stay 'ambidextrous', keeping a foot in Android, rest of the body in iOS ... But some things I do enjoy on both my older Note 4, & newer S6. No intrigue with the Note 5 other than its SoC, speed of internal storage and design over my older N4. As an S6 Edge owner I'm well aware of the speeds uninstalling, installing apps, opening them, the 'feel" of the newer 2015 Sammy phones as well as the exceptional speed of the Exynos processor. That said, you made a remark I don't quite agree with
    "The second generation of TouchID isn’t quite as life-changing, but it’s a welcome improvement nonetheless. Again, this is a case where there was friction in the user experience that wasn’t really noticeable until it was gone. Obviously, Apple is no longer the only one at this level of user experience with fingerprint scanners but they are keeping up."
    I'm not sure which phone you've found that parities the iPhone 6s/6+s for FP register. As it's certainly not the S6/S6+/Note 5 or LG (I've got one of their freebie 8" LG tabs from AT&T runnin LP). I'm hoping anyway lol. My silly S6 is just finally starting to correctly register 50% of the time with the 5.1 update. The previous six months I was lucky to have my thumb recognized 1 of 5 times. And it's registered as FOUR different 'fingers'.
    I'm also an owner of the 6+s and even checking the time or setting an Altman, turning the flashlight on, etc...it's so damn quick, I'm automatically on the home screen. It's ...pardon the pun, lightning fast and immediate. I guess I'm curious as to which OEM Apple is keeping up with as I had the 5s and 6+ standard as well. The Note 4 is a useless implementation and the S6, while better is a LONG way off from 'keeping up with...' Apple again IMHO. Genuinely curious as to the OEM making better or even similar performing and 'protective' measures than Apple.
    Other than that silly nitpick, I agree completely and haven't enjoyed an iPhone as much since the iPhone 4 and its HiDPI display. If I recall, another 'first', wasn't it? (Like the 5s FP reader, actually able to 'read an FP ;)). Maybe it's my aging mid 40s eyes but the higher resolutions and larger displays have literally kept pace with my deteriorating vision!

    Once again, many thanks for the perfectly balanced nerd/everyday 'Joe n Jane' subjective review of 'real world use'. Always refreshing to hear... I mean read your reviews, un-rushed to keep up with the herds the day after release or a week post NDA, minus the carrying around and using ...or simple resolution, 100% 'chart n number' reviews.
    Loved it. And I'm loving the iPhone 6s+. It's truly a computer in my pocket. I know you briefly touched on the expanded radios both WiFi and LTE, another maybe at first unnoticeable unless ...again as you mention an iCloud restoration of significant size, but a HUGE end user boon. These are incredibly fast, seemingly more 'stable' in 5MHz mode. (Maybe a bad word, stable but hard to put my finger on it, as older modems on the iPhone with AC/5MHz or is it GHz? Now I'm lost. This one seems faster, more efficient and stable than earlier versions )
    My wife has an identical iPhone 6+s. 128. Hers is Sammy mine TSMC. Neither has shown any significance in battery draw than the other. Mine measures 2238/4437 in GBench, hers 2242/4405 after six runs ...that's the mean. Power and efficiency are nearly identical after a weekend at our cabin we both had single digit %'s and used them nearly the same the entire weekend.
    Very VERY great phone
    J
    Reply
  • MarcSP - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    Thanks for your explanation :-). Still, I think there must be something else. I mean, most Samsung phones also use amoled and did not get such a low score in browsing, and the Snapdragon 800 is not a very slow SoC. Even today there are many low and even middle-end phones sold with weaker SoC. Reply
  • zodiacfml - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    i dont like apple but their engineering and design is very impressive. i wonder how the new cpu compares to a Core M. Reply
  • tharun118 - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    The best phone? Seriously? I've seen a lot of people saying iPhone as THE BEST phone, but AnandTech? Come on.. I believe that there can never be a "THE BEST phone". Yes, iPhone 6+ has a very good SoC, reliable camera, 3D Touch, etc, but like every flagship phone, there are compromises and drawbacks. For me, I choose a smartphone based on 4 major aspects. First, the screen. I know Apple lovers always defend their 320+ PPI screen saying that's more than enough and they don't need anything more. But the truth is, they are far behind Samsung and that will likely change in 7 or 7s. Second, the camera, this is purely subjective, there are people who'd prefer photos from an iPhone and there are people who'd prefer photos from 2015 android flagships (S6, Note 5, G4, 6P, etc). Third, battery and performance: Apple is better here on a tiny margin due their vertical integration. I think Android phones will never reach the exact smoothness in performance and efficiency in power consumption of the latest iPhone, due to fragmentation. Fourth, customisation: No comments here, but I understand there are lots of people who'd happily use their phone the way their manufacture tells them to. I'm definitely not one among them. I try to balance all these 4 aspects and my choice this year was a Galaxy S6. Of course, there are bonus features such as, wireless charging, quick charge (very useful), IR port, etc. But still, I wouldn't call S6 as THE BEST. Neither is an iPhone 6+. Reply
  • Vincog - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    I got iphone 6S with samsung chip here, and my battery will decrease 1% every 5 minute in use or 1% every 15 minute standby... ( take a note all background refresh off, location off, only hey siri on ) ..Even my iphone 5s is more better than this one!! 😭😭😭😭 Reply
  • Tigran - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    ***
    Looking at GFXBench, which is an infinite loop of the T-Rex on-screen benchmark to approximate intensive video gaming we see that the iPhone 6s doesn’t last very long either, but the performance throughout the test is incredible. Due to 1334x750 display resolution and strong GPU, the iPhone 6s manages to last the entire test without any notable throttling, and effectively pegged at the refresh rate of the display.
    ***
    Why V-Sync (which limits T-Rex on-screen by 60 fps) is ignored? And what about this throttling evidence (by 20-22% in GFXBench off-screen):
    http://forums.anandtech.com/showpost.php?p=3772777...
    Reply
  • blackcrayon - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    They mentioned that the 6s+ throttled slightly due to the higher resolution, so it stands to reason that the 6 would also throttle when rendering a higher resolution offscreen. But it's nowhere near the throttling of any of the competitors, games are still remaining playable throughout a reasonable gaming session. Reply
  • Tigran - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    You don't get it. It's not about resolution - it's about T-Rex on-screen which limits performance to 60 fps. Without this limit iPhone 6s performance would be much higher, so it is incorrect to mention T-Rex on-screen discussing iPhone 6s throttling. If there is throttling, it can decrease from 100 to 70 fps, but you will see only 60 fps during the whole test - because of V-Sync. And there is evidence off throttling in Manhattan (which doesn't reach 60 fps limit) actually - see my link above (20-22% throttling). I can add that popular Russian laboratory (overclockers.ru) tested throttling of iPhone 6s via Basemark Metal, and they found enormous throttling there - from 911 down to 525 (74%). Reply
  • zhiliangh - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    Thank you! I have been waiting for your review before upgrading any phone this year. This is a must-read iphone review. Reply
  • Spunjji - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    I have a bit of a gripe regarding the conclusions in the camera section. The LG G4 is clearly providing better images at night than the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus - granted there is "less motion blur" in the Apple images, but they're also quite clearly underexposed by at least a stop. It therefore seems odd to conclude that a product which produces grainier, less-detailed and murkier images than the competition is better. You could produce similarly non-blurry results on the G4 by adjusting exposure compensation and then have the best of both worlds! Reply

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