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If last week’s game-changing Mac Studio and M1 Ultra weren’t enough, it looks like Apple could be making another pretty big change to its product lineup this year, advancing the processor performance exclusively in its higher-end iPhone Pro lineup.
This latest bombshell comes from the generally reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, whose Twitter account has become much more active these days.
According to Kuo, only the so-called “iPhone 14 Pro” and “iPhone 14 Pro Max” will move to the A16 chip. This would be the first time in the history of the iPhone that Apple has released a new mainstream iPhone without an upgraded SoC inside.
In fact, until now, we’ve been able to pretty much assume that each year’s new iPhone number would include a similar new chip number. With Apple’s tradition of “S” models seemingly falling by the wayside, there’s been a steady two-number spread between each iPhone model and its corresponding A-series chip. The iPhone 11 had the A13, the iPhone 12 got the A14, and the iPhone 13 heralded the arrival of the most recent A15 chip.
So, it would have been a safe assumption that the iPhone 14 will get an A16. But not so, says Kuo. Instead, the A16 would only come to Apple’s higher-end “Pro” models.
Kuo doesn’t elaborate on the reasons for this, so it’s unclear whether it’s simply a matter of TSMC not being able to crank out enough A16 chips, or whether Apple has decided that it needs to pull its “Pro” iPhone models out even farther ahead of the pack.
After all, Apple has had a commanding lead with its A-series chips for years, and that margin has only been increasing each year. The 2018 A12 was nearly as fast as the best desktop CPUs available, and since then, Apple has doubled the number of Neural Cores, increased CPU core speeds by 30 percent, more than doubled the number of transistors, and tripled GPU speeds.
So, it’s hard to argue that the A15 chip isn’t already more than fast enough for the needs of the non-Pro iPhone lineup. We’re long past the point where a new iPhone “feels” any faster — these chips are about powering machine learning and computational photography.
2022 iPhone 14 Lineup According to Kuo
In the same thread, Kuo also reiterates that this year’s four iPhone models will be split along more uniform lines, with the 5.4-inch iPhone mini being retired in favour of a 6.7-inch “iPhone 14 Max.”
However, neither the 6.1-inch “iPhone 14” nor the 6.7-inch “iPhone 14 Max” will gain the latest A16 chip. Instead, they’re expected to continue using more or less the same A15 that’s found in today’s iPhone 13 models.
That doesn’t mean that the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max won’t get a slight boost over their predecessors. Kuo suggests that the RAM will increase to 6GB, and it’s also a safe bet that they’ll similarly adopt the 5-core GPU version of the A15 that’s currently only found in the iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, and iPad mini 6. Apple’s standard iPhone 13 models use a 4-core A15 with only 4GB of RAM.
The higher-performance chip could be an important new way for Apple to separate the iPhone 14 from the iPhone 14 Pro, at a time when the lines are already starting to get a bit more blurred within the family. Apple’s choice to introduce a 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max will likely only add to the similarities.
Of course, even if Kuo’s information is true, the iPhone 14 Pro models are likely still going to have a lot more going for them than just the better A16 chip. The latest reports suggest that the 120Hz ProMotion displays will remain the exclusive domain of the iPhone 14 Pro for at least another year, and we’ll likely still see the camera systems split along similar lines, with the Pro models featuring larger sensors and the extra telephoto lens.
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]