But that may not be the case with the launch of the iPhone 14. For the first time ever, Apple is rumored to be using different chipsets for its different phones. Rumors are that the latest A16 Bionic will power the iPhone 14 Pro models – the 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro and 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max. The new, less expensive iPhones coming out this fall will instead use a different version of the A15 Bionic chip that Apple introduced as part of the iPhone 13 release in 2021.
It’s a big change, if true. And it makes the comparison of the A16 Bionic versus the A15 Bionic more relevant than ever.
Apple is keeping a very tight lid on all of the new hardware announcements, including the chipset, so it’s unlikely we’ll know all the details of the A16 Bionic until the iPhone 14 release date, which is currently rumored in September. However, it’s worth looking at the rumors about the upcoming chipset and what it should offer, as knowing the differences between the A16 Bionic and the A15 Bionic could affect which iPhone model you ultimately buy.
In other words, if there was a different processor for the iPhone 14 Pro that would give it significant performance compared to the less expensive iPhone 14, then that’s something you might want to start saving right now.
Until we get a little more specific, here’s how the A16 Bionic vs. A15 Bionic comparison looks like, and what that means for the iPhones arriving this fall.
A16 Bionic Rumors
At this point in the iPhone 14 rumor cycle, it’s well established that the iPhone 14 Pro models will likely be the only ones that will benefit from an all-new chip. Rumors started circulating earlier this year about the A16 Bionic’s exclusive, with respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo as one of the main sources behind the speculation. At this point, it looks like a done deal.
According to Kuo, the A16 will be built on the same 5nm process as the on-chip A15 Bionic system found in the iPhone 13 models. Since the A14 Bionic also uses a 5nm process, this will be Apple’s third year in switching to 5nm chips. This leaves little room for the significant performance gains from new silicon that you generally see as chipmakers move to a smaller process.
However, you were expecting to make some gains on last year’s chipset. When unveiling the iPhone 13 models powered by the A15 last fall, Apple didn’t offer a performance comparison between the new silicon and the A14 Bionic chipset before then, but the Anandtech study (Opens in a new tab) I found the A15 to perform much better than its predecessor.
The A16 is likely to duplicate the A15 Bionic six-core CPU (two high-performance cores assisted by four efficient cores). The A15 GPU has a different number of cores depending on which phone you got — the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 mini had a chipset with a quad-core GPU while the Pro models benefited from an extra core. (Write this on—it’ll be important when we’re talking about the iPhone 14.) You’d expect the A16 Bionic to at least keep its 5-core GPU unless Apple tries to add another core to boost graphics performance even more.
There are other ways Apple can boost performance with the A16 Bionic. It is widely believed that the iPhone 14 Pro will switch to LPDDR5 RAM, an upgrade over the LPDDR4x memory used by current iPhones. This could mean more memory bandwidth and faster RAM. (Again, this is rumored to be an upgrade beyond the iPhone 14 standard.)
Other changes made to the A16 Bionic chip over its predecessor may be a faster neural engine and an improved image signal processor – the latter will certainly be necessary if rumors of a 48MP main camera on the iPhone 14 Pro models prove to be true. Some also expect a larger chip so that Apple can increase the number of transistors from the 15 billion that are included in the A15 Bionic.
What does it all mean in terms of performance expectations. GSMArena (Opens in a new tab)compiling reports from various sources including Macworld (Opens in a new tab) and numbers (Opens in a new tab)a 15% improvement in CPU speeds and 25% to 30% faster graphics for A16 Bionic over A15 Bionic.
iPhone 14 and A15 Bionic
That leaves the iPhone 14 and another phone – said to be the iPhone 14 Max – dealing with last year’s chipset. Of course, when rumors state that these two phones will feature the A15 Bionic, they don’t mean the same chipset that powers the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini.
Instead, the idea would be that the iPhone 14 “graduates” to the A15 Bionic used by the iPhone 13 Pros. This is the one with a 5-core GPU. If you fitted the Apple iPhone 14 with 6 GB of RAM like the iPhone 13 Pro – the iPhone 13 features 4 GB – that would also give the performance of the new phone a boost.
In other words, you would expect the iPhone 14 powered by A15 Bionic technology to see an improvement in performance over the standard iPhone 13 model, even if the gap between the iPhone 14 versus the iPhone 14 Pro widens, although some observers argue that the gap won’t be as large as you might think .
The bigger question long overdue, then, is what Apple will call these chipsets inside the iPhone 14. Referring to it as last year’s chip might be a tough marketing sell to get people excited about the new phone. Apple could add something to the name of the chipset to distinguish it from the A15 Bionic, though the most likely solution is for the company to label the older chipset as the A16 Bionic and attach a Pro modifier to the silicon name inside the iPhone 14 Pros. For now, we’ll continue to differentiate these two chipsets as the A15 and the A16 just to keep things straight.
A16 Bionic vs. A15 Bionic: Will it matter?
Whatever Apple eventually calls its chipsets, it’s very likely that the device that powers the iPhone 14 Pro will be faster. That in and of itself would be a departure from the iPhones of the recent past, which generally offer similar performance, and give or take the RAM that Apple includes in every phone.
In this sense, then, the difference between the A16 Bionic versus the A15 Bionic will be significant, although not as much as the other changes Apple has planned for Pro phones. Besides the 48MP camera upgrade, the new Pro models will likely lose the notch from the display; They should also continue to have fast-refreshing displays, a feature that will likely overtake the standard iPhone again. Those differences seem far more significant than any performance boost the A16 is likely to offer, although having that extra handling oomph would definitely be a sign in favor of the iPhone 14 Pro.
We’ll know the full story when Apple finally reveals its phones. But for now, the A16/A15 differentiation feels like just another way Apple separates its Pro phones from the rest of its iPhones.
read the following: The iPhone 14 is rumored to use an old chip — and that’s okaywhile we explore how much power is really needed.