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Apple won't lock the iPhone 16 and 16 Plus to last year's chip after all

All four iPhone 16 models could share a same-generation chip after two years.
By

Published onJuly 2, 2024

Apple iPhone 15 Plus and iPhone 15 Pro Max 2
Aamir Siddiqui / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Apple may equip all iPhone 16 models with the same generation A18 chip, ending the chip segregation seen in the last two iPhone generations.
  • This move likely aims to ensure all iPhone 16 models can support Apple Intelligence features.
  • The unified chip strategy could still feature performance variations, with the Pro models potentially using an enhanced A18 Pro version.

In a potential departure from its recent practices, Apple may be set to equip all four iPhone 16 models with the same generation of its A-series chip. This information comes from code discovered in Apple’s backend by Nicolás Alvarez (via MacRumors).

Over the last two years, Apple has differentiated the standard and Plus models from their Pro counterparts by equipping the former with older generation chips. For instance, the current iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus models feature the A16 Bionic chip, the same one used in the iPhone 14 Pro series, while the iPhone 15 Pro models boast the newer A17 Pro chip.

As per the report, the leaked code reveals five new model numbers (iPhone17,1 through iPhone 17,5), all sharing a common identifier that typically signifies a unified chip family. This contrasts with previous identifiers for iPhone 15 models, which varied based on the chip used.

This chip parity in the model numbers indicates that all models, from the standard iPhone 16 to the Pro Max, are expected to be powered by the same generation of Apple silicon, namely the A18 chip.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean uniform performance across the board. The Pro models might still receive a souped-up version, possibly called the A18 Pro, with enhancements like additional GPU cores and better camera and gaming features.

Apple’s approach to differentiating its flagship devices based on performance remains unique. Competitors like Google and Samsung typically use the same chipset across all models in their flagship series despite variations in camera systems, screen sizes, and battery capacities.

A key reason behind Apple’s decision to standardize the chip across all iPhone 16 models could be the emphasis on Apple Intelligence. Running AI features on-device requires significant resources, as demonstrated by the current iPhone 15 lineup, where only the Pro models support Apple Intelligence features. Ensuring that all future iPhones are capable of running these features is likely essential for Apple’s strategy to boost the sales of its next-generation iPhones.

Interestingly, the leaked code reveals five new model numbers running on the same chip, suggesting the possibility of an updated iPhone SE model sometime next year. However, this remains speculative at this point. The iPhone 16 series is all but confirmed to debut sometime around September.

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