As we approach September, and thus the very likely launch of the new iPhone 14 range, rumors about the upcoming smartphone from Apple are increasing. We now have a fairly solid idea of what the standard iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models will look like, cameras, and display specifications. But one rumor is still surfacing and it is a strange rumor.
That tip is how the iPhone 14 will stick to the A15 Bionic chip that’s in the iPhone 13 range, while the iPhone 14 Pro models will get a new, more powerful A16 chip. Now Apple hasn’t even hinted that this will be the case, but many respected tech guides have pointed out this discrepancy in the chip.
The strange thing here is that it would be the first time Apple didn’t equip a next-generation iPhone with new silicon, let alone separate the Standard and Pro models. This lack of chip upgrade is arguably an easy way to get the iPhone 14 out of control; That’s before you consider that you won’t seemingly get the new punch-hole camera cutouts and pills to replace the infamous screen notch.
However, swapping my tech enthusiast’s hat for my logical-thinking hat, I’m not entirely convinced that leaving the iPhone 14 with the A15 chip is actually a big deal.
a lot of performance
For years, Apple’s A-series chips have easily beaten the flagship silicon Snapdragon and Exynos found in the best Android phones. In our testing, even the gaming-focused Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro with the new Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 was easily beaten by the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s A15 Bionic chip, which also beats the powerful Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.
After about 8 months of using the iPhone 13 Pro – after switching from Android – I haven’t encountered anything slowing down the phone’s A15 chip. Having said that, I haven’t yet found much that’s taxing an Android phone with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 or even an older Snapdragon 888 chip.
I think combining Apple’s optimization work with A-series chipsets and how a lot of apps and games run on a whole lot of different phone hardware than the ones that top our best phones list, and that means both the iPhone and Android phone performance is a bit out of the question these days. For a very specialized use – for moving video viewing on the go.
So the growing strong rumors that the iPhone 14 might stick with the A15 Bionic isn’t really concerning. And it’s possible that Apple made some improvements below the surface with iOS 16 to ensure the iPhone 14 doesn’t feel sluggish; I’ve yet to encounter an iPhone that fails me in terms of performance, and that’s not something I can say about Android phones.
What may set me off about the standard iPhone 14 is that it may not get a high refresh rate display, and will likely stick to the 60Hz panel than its predecessor. No matter how much stock you put in high refresh rates, getting a top-of-the-line 2022 phone at probably $800 with a 60Hz display would be a bit shameful in my mind. But there are hints that the iPhone 14 could get a 90Hz panel, which is much more acceptable.
Do you want to use iPhone 14 Pro?
So what about the iPhone 14 Pro and A16 Bionic? Well, it’s probably faster and more efficient than its predecessor, although as mentioned, I don’t think that would make a noticeable difference to real-world usage.
After diving into the current chip manufacturing process Jason Kross at Macworld (Opens in a new tab) Expect A16 Bionic CPU performance to increase by 15%, graphics performance by 25% to 30%, and memory bandwidth improvement by 50%. The last two look very impressive. But then again, when was the last time you felt your iPhone was running slow or couldn’t handle a bunch of apps you had open? My guess is not at all or rarely, even if you use an iPhone that is several generations old.
Of course, to justify the high-end price tag, I feel Apple would have to give the iPhone 14 Pro a new chip even if the A15 Bionic delivers more power than anyone likely needs. But a less pessimistic reason for the expected chip discrepancy between the iPhone 14 and the iPhone 14 Pro could be due to the latter’s 48-megapixel camera.
Boosting the main camera from the 12MP to 48MP range of iPhone 13 not only unlocks the camera system to capture more details, but also enables 8K video recording; The latest iPhones can only capture 4K video. More detail and higher resolution means more information for the phone to process, even if it ends up outputting 12MP shots.
As such, Cross believes that the A16 chip will focus largely on processing image signals and powering Apple’s Neural Engine; This is something I agree with. The past few generations of A-series chips have focused on neural processing and running smart algorithms on screeching frame rates in games. This results in not only a more responsive Siri response, but also image processing that sees the iPhone 13 Pro Max topping our list of best camera phones.
Since Pro iPhones are already used for semi-professional photography and video capture, I can see Apple leaning completely on the neural processing and clever capabilities of the A16 chip for the iPhone 14 Pro models. I expect to see a presentation on September 13th showing how improving the semantic display and its processing leads to results in photos and videos that offer a marked improvement over previous iPhone pros.
Having said all that, the iPhone 13 still takes some excellent photos with its main camera. And I suspect the iPhone 14 will do the same, and likely benefit from some software improvements as well. Since smartphone cameras are so good these days, you really have to look for major flaws or differences in image composition, including big improvements from generation to generation.
With all that in mind, if you’re at the point where you’re looking to upgrade the iPhone or fancy switching from iOS to Android, I wouldn’t dismiss the upcoming iPhone 14 out of reach, despite its rumored and seemingly weaker specs. That is unless you really want to use video editing apps and take photos that you might want to print; In this case, the iPhone 14 Pro is likely to be right for you.
Of course, this is all still speculation at the moment, as we await the official unveiling of the iPhone 14 range, and it is very likely that it will be in the second week of September at an Apple event. But it looks like Apple will introduce two iPhone 14 models that may not have the best specs on paper but nonetheless will impress in real use.