09/18 Update below. This article was originally published on September 15
Apple’s iPhone 14 line offers a controversial first: it’s the first line of iPhones to come out with different generations of chipsets. Many thought this was a unique situation, a consequence of the global chip shortage, but the first leak of the iPhone 15 comes as a shock.
Yes, the iPhone 14 is only a week old, but Apple is working years ahead, and a new report from Nikkei Asia says the company has already decided to limit its next-gen A17 chip to the iPhone 15 Pro. and iPhone 15 Pro Max. . And that matters more than just the iPhone 14 lineup.
Although the performance differences between the A15 and A16 are minor, both chips are above the competition, making the differences less significant. The real downside isn’t a noticeable improvement in battery life from the A16, but that should change with the A17.
According to Nikkei, the A17 will be the first chip made by Apple in 3 nanometers after 5 nm variants were used for the A14, A15 and A16. This is state-of-the-art technology, and compared to its predecessors, 3nm allows the A17 to run faster, cooler and with lower power consumption. Yes, this is shaping up to be the first chip in four years that delivers significant year-over-year performance and battery life gains, but only for Pro buyers.
“Apple is likely to use the different levels of production technology to introduce greater differences between its premium and non-premium models,” said Dylan Patel, chief analyst at Semianalysis, speaking to Nikkei.
Update 9/17: Despite delivering to customers yesterday, the first teardowns of the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max have been completed, inadvertently revealing a key iPhone 15 detail.
Performed by YouTuber WekiHome, teardowns reveal that both iPhone 14 Pro models are equipped with Qualcomm’s X65 modem. Compared to the iPhone 13 X60, it supports wider bands in the high-speed 5G “mmWave” spectrum and improved efficiency with Qualcomm’s “PowerSave 2.0” technology. It was also announced a long time ago May 2021.
Given the delay, there was speculation that the iPhone 14 line could come with Qualcomm’s new ‘X70’, which was announced in May 2022. Qualcomm claims the X70 can achieve blistering download and upload speeds of 10Gbps and 3.5Gbps respectively, but the real standout is the company’s claim that it’s 60% more power efficient.
With the X60 and X65 providing a clear pattern, the X70 is now a lock for the iPhone 15 lineup. Additionally, the combination of the X70 and a 3nm A17 chip suggests that this lineup has the potential to deliver battery life. revolutionary battery. Throw in the expected upgrade to USB-C for Pro models, and 2023 already seems to provide some of the missing fireworks in the 2022 models.
Update 9/18: Speaking to me, display specialist Ross Young revealed that Apple will be bringing the pill-shaped cutout and “Dynamic Island” feature to all iPhone 15 models. One caveat is that Young still doesn’t expect 120Hz/LTPO “ProMotion” to come to standard iPhone 15 models because “the supply chain can’t support it.”
First, the good news. dynamic island stole the show at Apple’s iPhone 15 launch this week. In classic Apple fashion, the company has turned the physical disadvantage of a large cutout through clever software into arguably the most compelling reason to buy an iPhone 14 Pro model. It’s sleek, intuitive, and the best notification and status system iPhones have ever had.
Bringing it to all iPhone 15 models is a no-brainer, and anyone who’s put off by the prices of the iPhone 14 Pro (which, with the exception of the US and China, increased in most countries of the world) now has a good reason to skip a generation.
Second, the bad news. High refresh rate screens have been the norm on flagship and even mid-range Android phones for years. For Apple to release an $800 iPhone 15 in 2023 without seeming extraordinary.
Young continued to explain this he thinks 2024 is more likely, as Apple’s supply chain partner BOE gradually ramps up production of the LTPO displays that Apple uses for ProMotion. Given its stellar track record, Young is probably right, but I have no doubt that Apple could reconfigure its supply chain requirements if it really wanted to bring the feature to all users.
Either way, ProMotion’s continued exclusion makes a lot of strategic sense for Apple as it seeks to drive an ever-widening gap between its Pro and non-Pro iPhones. After all, the iPhone 14 has already shown that Apple is happy to leave its standard models virtually unchanged if it serves that purpose.
There is also a rationale for this strategy: cost. Patel estimates a cost increase of “at least 40% for the same silicon area when moving to 3nm chips from the 5nm family.” It all sounds like classic Apple: if you want the best, we’ll do it, but you’ll have to pay the premium.
And here is Apple’s new “Pro” strategy in a nutshell: continue to widen the gap between Pro and non-Pro devices in all categories (iPhone, iPad, Mac and MacBook) to create a clear division and drive sales incentives. It’s a tactic that already seems to be working. Influential analyst Ming Chi-Kuo reports that pre-orders of iPhone 14 Pro models far exceed their non-Pro counterparts.
Nikkei says TSMC, Intel, and Apple (unsurprisingly) declined to comment on its information, but it cites three different sources for the information. Which suggests we should take it seriously.
With USB-C also strongly recommended for the iPhone 15 Pro models, Apple’s next-generation iPhones are already becoming breakthrough devices. But don’t be surprised if their prices reflect that.
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