Apple’s iPhone 14 range offers a controversial novelty: it is the first iPhone range to be released with several generations of chipsets. Many believed it was a one-time event, a consequence of the global chip shortage, but the first iPhone 15 leak has a shock in store.
Yes, the iPhone 14 is only a week old, but Apple is working years in advance and a new report from Nikkei Asia says the company has already decided to limit its next-generation A17 chip to iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro. Max. And that matters more than it did for the iPhone 14 range.
While the performance differences between the A15 and A16 are minimal, both chips clearly outperform the competition, which makes the differences less important. The real downside isn’t a noticeable improvement in battery life over the A16, but it looks set to change with the A17.
According to Nikkei, the A17 will be Apple’s first 3-nanometer chip after 5nm 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 performance and battery life year after year, but only for Pro buyers.
“Apple is likely to use different levels of manufacturing technology to introduce major differences between its premium and non-premium models,” explains Dylan Patel, chief analyst at Semianalysis, speaking with Nikkei.
Update 09/17: Despite shipping to customers only yesterday, the first teardowns of the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max have been completed, inadvertently revealing a key detail of the iPhone 15.
Run by YouTuber Weki Home, teardowns reveal that both iPhone 14 Pro models are equipped with Qualcomm’s X65 modem. Compared to the iPhone 13’s X60, it supports wider bands in the high-speed 5G “mmWave” spectrum and improved efficiency thanks to Qualcomm’s “PowerSave 2.0” technology. It was also announced in the distant past May 2021.
Given the delay, it was speculated that the iPhone 14 line could come with Qualcomm’s new “X70”, which was announced in May 2022. Qualcomm claims the X70 can achieve incredible download and upload speeds of 10Gbps and 3.5Gbps respectively, but the real star is the company’s claim that it’s 60% more energy efficient.
With the X60 and X65 providing a clear pattern, the X70 is now a lock for the iPhone 15 range. Furthermore, the combination of the X70 and a 3nm A17 chip suggests that this range has the potential to offer revolutionary battery life. Throw the expected switch to USB-C for Pro models, and 2023 already seems to provide some of the missing fireworks from the 2022 models.
Update 09/18: Speaking to me, display specialist Ross Young revealed that Apple will bring the pill-shaped cutout and “Dynamic Island” feature to all iPhone 15 models. The big caveat is that Young doesn’t expect yet 120Hz / LTPO “ProMotion” comes to the standard iPhone 15 models as “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 smooth, intuitive, and the best notification and status system that iPhones. have ever had.
Bringing it to all iPhone 15 models is a breeze and anyone who is put off by the pricing of the iPhone 14 Pro (which, excluding 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 displays have been standard on flagship and even mid-range Android phones for years. For Apple, the release of an $ 800 iPhone 15 in 2023 without it seems extraordinary.
Young continued explains that believes 2024 is more likely as Apple’s supply chain partner BOE will gradually increase production of the LTPO displays used by Apple for ProMotion. Given his considerable experience, Young is probably right, but I have no doubt that Apple could reconfigure its supply chain demands if it really wanted to bring the functionality to all users.
Either way, the continued exclusion of ProMotion makes a lot of strategic sense for Apple as it seems to create an ever-growing wedge between its Pro and non-Pro iPhones. After all, the iPhone 14 has already proven that Apple is happy to leave its standard models. practically unchanged if it will serve this purpose.
There is also a justification for this strategy: the cost. Patel estimates a cost increase of “at least 40% for the same silicon area when switching to the 3nm chips of the 5nm family.” This all sounds like classic Apple – if you want the best, we’ll do it, but you’ll have to pay the premium.
And that’s Apple’s new “Pro” strategy in a nutshell: continue to widen the gap between Pro and non-Pro devices across all categories (iPhone, iPad, Mac and MacBook) to create a clear divide and motivate upsell. It’s a tactic that already seems to be working. Influential analyst Ming Chi-Kuo reports that pre-orders of the iPhone 14 Pro models far exceed their non-Pro equivalents.
Nikkei says TSMC, Intel, and Apple (unsurprisingly) declined to comment on its information, but cites three different sources for the information. Which suggests we should take it seriously.
With USB-C also for iPhone 15 Pro models, Apple’s next-generation iPhones are already shaping up to be revolutionary devices. But don’t be surprised if their prices reflect this.
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