With the iPhone 6 having been unveiled on the 9th, the main question many of us had in our minds was that how well will Apple's flagship perform when compared to other top devices out there. Despite the fact that Apple does not choose to rely primarily on specs as the main seller for it's devices, the company nevertheless has been known to squeeze the maximum out of its hardware due to top notch software integration.
Well, it's time to see how well this golden formula works on the iPhone 6. But before we get to that, we have a special treat for all the hardware lovers out there. Courtesy of folks over at Chipworks, we can finally take an in depth look at what's inside the iPhone 6. So lets start!
The Processor - Apple's A8 SoC.
At the launch of the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus Apple claimed that it's latest A8 SoC for the smartphones was 13 % smaller than the A7 and had 25 % faster computing speed. Graphics performance was said to get an even more significant boost with the A8 reportedly being up to 50 % faster in graphics performance.
Starting from the initial information available when looking at the top of the PoP or the complete processor package, the first thing noticeable is that Apple has changed the part number for the A8 SoC to APL 1011.
RAM details are also available and show the memory capacity of the iPhone 6 to be 1 GB. Looking at the bottom of the package (on the right) show that it took a mere six weeks for the chip to travel from it's manufacturing plant to the final product.
Die size measured for the A8 confirms Apple's claims that the A8 is indeed 13% smaller than it's predecessor. Die size for the iPhone 6 measures out to be 8.5 mm x 10.5 mm. This gives an area of 85.25 mm2. Contacted gate pitch on the die also confirms to TSMC 20 nm manufacturing standards.
The measurements on the contact gate pitch are 90 nm which also confirms Apple's claim that the A8 has been manufactured using the 20 nm manufacturing process. Cross section of the PoP reveals the package to have ten metals in the stack.
How does all of this add up to the overall performance of the device? Well to answer that question, for the first time we now have quite a few detailed benchmarks available for the iPhone 6. Starting from browser performance, a useful indicator of overall CPU performance, we see several gains the iPhone 6 has over it's predecessor.
From these initial benchmark samples, it seems like Apple has manged to get the processor and performance right on the iPhone 6. The device manages to top all other flagships out there. The SunSpider benchmark above even shows a 13% increase in performance, which matches very closely to Apple's claims.
Kraken's benchmark shows similar results. The only difference here is that the iPhone 6 Plus edges out in performance when compared to the iPhone 6. Other flagships including the Moto X and the HTC One M8 are still left behind, despite the fact that they boast higher processor frequencies and RAM capacities.
Google's Octane ends up confirming previous results as well. All of these benchmarks end up confirm several architectural changes across the A8. They also end up highlighting the performance benefits offered by the A8 and how they compare to the A7 and other Snapdragon variants. This performance difference can also be accounted to iOS's age old optimization among other factors.
The latest edition to the list of distinct features offered by the iPhone is NFC. NFC stands for Near-Field Communications and is a process through which users will be able to make mobile payments through their Apple device via Apple's ApplePay option.
Before the launch of the iPhone, the manufacturer of the chip for NFC was widely believed to be NXP. This is confirmed via these latest images but they also lend us new information related to it.
Previously thought to be NXP's PN544, the controller o the iPhone 6 is a variant of the PN544 and the PN547 and is thought to be designed specifically for the Cupertino based manufacturer. In addition, courtesy of the date stamp on it, the chip has been in Apple's possession for more than a year.
It really makes us think whether mobile payments was an option for the iPhone 5S as well. In addition to this, an interesting piece of hardware has also been located in the PN548 package.
A second die which bears similar 2013 die markings and is labelled as '008' is also a part of NXP's NFC package for the iPhone 6. It should be kept in mind that no such additions are present in previous PN547 or other packages. Perhaps chipworks is right in speculating that this chip is the oft-rumored secure element to be found on the iPhone 6.
Benchmarks - How Do The iPhone 6 And The iPhone 6 Plus Stack Up Against The Competition?
One of the most crucial features on any smartphone is it's GPU performance. Good graphics not only ensure that you have top notch games on your device, but also ensure high level performance of applications and the OS in general. So how do the iPhne 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus perform in the graphics department? Let's have a look.
An overall benchmark on 3DMark on the other hand shows disappointing results for both the iPhones. While they still maintain a clear advantage over the iPhone 5S, over here we see the iPhone 6 Plus in a low 8th position, with the iPhone 6 faring even worse.
Same is the case with Manhattan Onscreen (GFXBench). The iPhone 6 Plus however generally fares poorly when compared to the iPhone 6 on average. This can be attributed to the increased screen size and subsequently on the resolution of the device. The iPhone 6 Plus is in fact topped out by the year old iPhone 5S in T-Rex Offscreen. Nevertheless, both the flagships still manage to bag top spots despite, once again being light on the specs.
The new iPhones come with several camera enhancements. Both the iPhones come with a new iSight camera equipped with phased detection Auto Focus. Die images of the camera also show the new Focus Pixels which enhance Auto Focus speeds by up to two times.
The Focus Pixels can be seen in green on the die image on the right. Measurements of the camera chip on the iPhone 6 are 10.6 mm x 9.3 mm x 5.6 mm and the module has been manufactured by Sony withe Exymor on board as initially speculated.
Die size for the camera module is 4.8 mm x 6.1 mm which translates into an area of 29.3 mm2. In addition to the Sony Exymor sensor on board, the camera module for the iPhone 6 also features a back illuminated CMOS image sensor with 1.5 µm generation pixels.
And Finally - Battery Life And Benchmarks.
Any smartphone can come with any amount of features. But if there isn't a strong battery to power it all, then all the specifications and features count for nothing. So any iPhone 6 analysis won't be complete without battery specifications and benchmarks. Surprisingly, both the variants of the iPhone 6 end up surprising us with their battery performance.
Despite having a battery with smaller capacities when compared to all several Android smartphones, the iPhone 6 turns out to be a stunner with it's 1810 mAh battery module. The iPhone 6 Plus doesn't lag that far behind, but the surprising performer of the day is the iPhone 6.