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Apple A16 Bionic: Everything to know about the latest iPhone chipset
Apple launched the iPhone 14 series a few days ago, and the Pro models are getting the lion’s share of upgrades. Expect 48MP main cameras, display cutouts instead of a notch, and telephoto cameras. However, another notable upgrade is the A16 Bionic chipset.
So what exactly is this processor? How does it compare to the best Android SoCs? What makes it stand out? We answer all this and more in our Apple A16 Bionic guide.
What is the A16 Bionic?
The A16 is Apple’s latest and greatest smartphone chipset, debuting inside the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.
As for the basic specs, the processor is manufactured on a 4nm TSMC process and brings a hexa-core CPU (two performance cores and four efficiency cores) and a five-core GPU.
Other notable features include a 16-core “Neural Engine” for machine learning tasks as well as a Qualcomm modem for sub-6GHz and mmWave 5G connectivity.
A16 Bionic: How does it compare to Android rivals?
Apple’s smartphone processors have traditionally been better than the best Android chipsets, usually delivering superior CPU and GPU performance.
Our own testing (seen below) showed that Apple’s previous A15 Bionic chipset handily beat the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and Samsung Exynos 2200 when it came to CPU performance. This advantage extended to both single-core and multi-core CPU tests in Geekbench 5.
However, our testing also showed that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is superior to the A15 in terms of GPU performance. The Snapdragon-powered Galaxy S22 Ultra, OPPO Find X5 Pro, and REDMAGIC 7 all delivered better results in 3DMark and GFXBench.
It’s worth noting that the Google Tensor processor lags far behind both the A15 Bionic and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. This is mostly due to Google using older CPU cores and older GPU tech. In saying so, the Tensor brings heavyweight machine learning silicon. This enables features like offline dictation, Magic Eraser, face unblur tech for photos, and more.
The Apple A16 Bionic is shaping up to be a mild performance upgrade at best over the A15.
We haven’t benchmarked the A16 Bionic chipset just yet, but we aren’t expecting a major generational upgrade. After all, the company didn’t actually disclose how much faster the new chipset is in terms of CPU and GPU performance.
Our own Gary Sims also noted that the company’s vague CPU performance graph (seen below) doesn’t show the previous A15 Bionic. This lends further credence to suggestions that we shouldn’t expect a major performance upgrade over last year’s processor.
Nevertheless, it stands to reason that Apple might hold its lead in the CPU category. GPU performance is another matter though, so we’re keen to see how the new chip fares here.
The A16 Bionic is merely the first in a new generation of smartphone processors, though. Qualcomm will be unveiling its own new processor, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, in November. So we’re definitely interested in comparing these two SoCs.
Google will also reveal its Tensor G2 chipset alongside the Pixel 7 series, while MediaTek is expected to reveal its new flagship SoC later this year. There’ll therefore be no shortage of A16 rivals on the market.
How efficient is the A16 Bionic?
Apple made a point of talking about the new chipset’s power efficiency. It says that the A16 Bionic’s performance CPU cores consume 20% less power than before.
The iPhone maker adds that the efficiency CPU cores consume one-third of the power of rivals. We’re guessing this is compared to the Arm Cortex-A510 seen in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 series, Samsung Exynos 2200, and MediaTek Dimensity 9000.
More silicon coverage: What you should know about Arm’s 2023 CPUs and GPUs
In other words, Apple can continue to get away with using smaller batteries in its iPhones compared to Android devices. These chips combined with iOS are simply delivering more efficiency than Android phones.
Apple’s smartphone chipsets are exclusive to iPhones, and the A16 Bionic is no exception. However, the new processor doesn’t appear in all iPhone models.
Instead, Apple is only bringing the A16 Bionic to the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. The standard iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus are sticking with last year’s A15 Bionic chipset.
We’re guessing that the Cupertino company will bring the A16 Bionic to the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, while the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max gets an A17 chipset.