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


View All Comments

  • Mummiez - Saturday, December 26, 2015 - link

    There is also a video on YouTube showing a dancing man wearing a horse mask. Even more amusingly, I must add.
  • mike3332015 - Saturday, November 7, 2015 - link

    if this gets the second highest award then can someone tell me what got the first highest award? Reply
  • TechnologyGuy - Saturday, November 7, 2015 - link

    Good review but as many have pointed out, as is customary at Anand, very biased in favor of Apple products. Over-reaching statements are used throughout the article and the conclusions simply don't follow from the evidence. No doubt the 6s is one of the top smartphones on today's market but it lags in camera performance (Z5, S6, G4, P6 are all better) and the poor screen is simply unacceptable by today's standards (no, the dpi is high enough argument holds no water; at least for me I can tell at a first glance when compared to other phones). Software is of course more subjective and for normal usage, there is no clear winner between iOS and Android. Stability is non-argument as I have had far more issues on my iPhones than my Galaxy S6, not to mention having to fix my GF's phone after iOS 9 bricked it. Lack of customization in iOS (short of jailbreaking which is still limiting) is also a deal-breaker for those of us who care.

    So is it a good phone? Sure I'd agree. But it's far from the leaders in the market today and to claim such is simply false.
  • ciderrules - Saturday, November 7, 2015 - link

    Yet another person upset at the cold, hard, fact that Apple is killing it with fantastic hardware. Reply
  • TechnologyGuy - Sunday, November 8, 2015 - link

    Fantastic hardware? I guess you didn't even read my comment. The SoC is a very nice engineering achievement but it does nothing to alter my user experience as a power user. The features I personally require are simply subpar in today's flagship market (camera & screen as I have clearly pointed out).

    There is nothing to be upset about - Apple has come up with a very nice product that fits well into the top end of the market but there is no question it misses the mark in several areas, at least for users like myself. I am more disappointed in the biased nature of the review than the actual product.
  • ciderrules - Sunday, November 8, 2015 - link

    Power user? iOS users are the true power users as they actually can choose from high-end software to do real work on their devices. Or do you think widgets or minor customization makes you a power user?

    Oh, and saying Anand is biased? Typical response from people who dislike Apple and are having trouble trying to accept they make the best smartphone.
  • TechnologyGuy - Monday, November 9, 2015 - link

    Why would I accept that Apple makes the best smartphone when the company does not? Blind favoritism serves no purpose in the tech world. For that matter, I do not think any company makes the "best" products. Such a term is irrelevant and frankly counter productive. I expect Anand and its readers to be more discerning than that. Or perhaps I am wrong.

    I have owned and still own several Apple products. Are they definitively superior to their competitors? No, they are not, but they serve their purpose, as any adequate or premium technology product should.

    I have no doubt that some developers have chosen the iOS ecosystem for specialized applications; however, those are not relevant to my needs. As I pointed out very clearly, I have very specific requirements which the iPhone 6s has not met. I am simply pointing out the biases in this review. If it meets your needs, great, then I guess you are one happy customer.

    As a former computer/electrical engineer who specialized in signal processing, I need no one to tell me a what a power user is, nor would I be inclined to respond further unless there is some valid, well-constructed points to be discussed.
  • Samus - Saturday, November 7, 2015 - link

    11MB cache on a mobile SOC? Damn!? Reply
  • zeeBomb - Sunday, November 8, 2015 - link

    Damnnnn! Reply
  • Zoidberg - Saturday, November 7, 2015 - link

    Even for AT this is laughable... no mention of the fact that Plus is 25% heavier with a smaller screen and battery than Edge+. Fanboys or sellouts? Reply

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