Every year, Apple announces a new generation iPhone. Sometimes it comes with a whole new design, sometimes it doesn’t. But the one thing we know for sure is that the new iPhone will feature a new chip – at least that’s been the case so far. Recent rumors suggest that some iPhone 14 models will retain the A15 Bionic chip from this year’s models. But why would Apple do this?
What do the rumors say
Renowned analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported this month that only the high-end iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max models will have the new “A16” chip, while the mid-range iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max models ( the mini model is expected to be replaced by a new 6.7-inch phone) will be equipped with the A15 Bionic chip.
9to5Mac has corroborated Kuo’s report with independent sources, which also suggest that two of the four new iPhone models this year will be powered by the A15 Bionic chip, while the other two will have the next-generation Apple Silicon chip. Both Kuo and 9to5Mac’s Sources also suggest that all new iPhones will have 6GB of RAM, while currently the cheapest models come with 4GB of RAM.
Here is what the iPhone 14 range will look like:
- 6.1-inch iPhone 14 with A15 chip
- 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Max with A15 chip
- 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro with A16 chip
- 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro with A16 chip
But would Apple release a new flagship device with an old chip? Turns out the company has done this before, and it’s all about marketing.
The strategy behind Apple’s chip names
Since the introduction of the iPhone 4 in 2010 with the first Apple custom chip called “A4”, subsequent new chips have always followed the same nomenclature. We had A5, A6, A7, and the list goes on.
However, in 2012 Apple had to create an even more powerful chip for the new third-generation iPad, which was the first to feature a high-resolution Retina display. This chip was entirely based on the A5 chip from the iPhone 4s and iPad 2, but the newer version had a quad-core GPU while the original had a dual-core GPU.
To differentiate the new chip and make it sound like something more powerful, Apple named it A5X. Since then, all new chips created specifically for the iPad have the “X” in their name to indicate that they are faster due to the more powerful GPU and more RAM. This strategy was used until 2018 when Apple launched the third generation iPad Pro with the A12X chip.
In 2020, instead of creating a more powerful version of the A13 chip for the new iPad Pro, Apple simply reused the same A12X chip from the 2018 iPad Pro, but this time with an additional GPU core enabled. This change was enough for Apple to rename the chip to “A12Z Bionic”.
The M1 and a new era for Apple Silicon
When Apple finally decided to migrate Macs from Intel processors to their own silicon, they once again needed a strong name to emphasize that these chips are even more powerful and unlike anything the company has done before. – so they came up with the M1 chip.
However, on the inside, M1 is essentially what Apple called A14X in the past, as the chip found in the latest iMacs and MacBook Airs is essentially the A14 chip from the iPhone 12 with more CPU and GPU cores. Apple then created more powerful M1 Pro, M1 Max and M1 Ultra variants, all based on the same A14 chip.
The ‘M1’ name has become extremely appealing, or don’t you think having an iPad Air with the M1 chip sounds more amazing than something with an A14X chip? What I mean is that Apple uses marketing in its favor to make even the smallest changes to something bigger, and it can easily do that with iPhone chips.
What chip will be in the iPhone 14?
As I recently noted in another post, Apple currently offers two different versions of the A15 Bionic chip, although they don’t advertise them under different names. The standard A15 Bionic chip used in the iPhone 13 and iPad mini 6 models features a six-core processor and a five-core GPU with 4GB of RAM. However, the iPhone 13 Pro models have an upgraded A15 Bionic chip with a six-core GPU and 6GB of RAM.
That extra GPU core gives the iPhone 13 Pro around 34% more graphics power than the iPhone 13, while the 6GB of RAM ensures more apps can stay in the background for longer.
We don’t know why Apple would use the A15 chip in the next generation iPhone. It could be related to component shortages or the company simply realized that most average consumers wouldn’t even notice the difference between a brand new A16 chip and the current A15.
However, when it is said that some models of the iPhone 14 will have the A15 chip, it does not mean that it will have the same A15 chip as the iPhone 13. Apple could use the high-end version of its chip with a better GPU and 6GB of RAM and call it A15X, just like it did with the A12Z chip in the 2020 iPad Pro.
Apple might even call it the A16 chip and create a new chip with a different architecture named A16 Pro, like it did with Mac chips. The Apple Watch Series 7 has the same processor as the Apple Watch Series 6, but the chips are named “Apple S6” and “Apple S7” due to minor internal changes to the SoC.
Whatever chip is inside the iPhone 14, Apple’s marketing team certainly has something in mind to make it sound like a whole new thing.
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