iPhone 16 chip could herald "massive performance gains" above and beyond M4

iPhone 15 Review
(Image credit: Future)

Following reports this week that Apple’s A18 chip will feature in all of its iPhone 16 models, and reports that demand could see the company produce 100 million units in 2024, new insight claims the brains of Apple’s next best iPhone could be the company’s best chip yet.

Reporting Wednesday, Digitimes reiterates that Apple is expected to pivot its new A18 processor to a more advanced N3E manufacturing process that could deliver “massive performance gains.” 

“In particular, some note that Apple's newest A18 processor will even surpass its M4 chip — released just earlier this year — in terms of performance,” the report states. Apple’s latest chip was unveiled in the M4 iPad Pro earlier this year and delivers record-breaking Apple silicon performance, including the immense Neural Engine (NPU) required to power Apple Intelligence. With iOS 18 and an AI iPhone now close at hand, it looks like A18 will take things even further.

A18 could be the iPhone 16’s secret weapon 

As the report notes, A18 is expected to deliver much more of a leap in performance compared to the A17’s “modest performance gains.” The secret is N3E’s flexibility in chip design, which offers “a better balance between performance and power consumption.” 

According to the report, the secret to mobile chip design isn’t simply transitory density but instead “the balance between performance and power consumption.” The current bottleneck in mobile processor performance remains thermal issues. N3E will deliver the same amount of performance using less power than the A17 chip’s design process will, giving Apple more performance headroom. 

As expected, Apple’s iPhone chip is expected to be broadly on par with other offerings from Qualcomm and MediaTek when it comes to CPU and GPU performance, so “the main battleground will be in NPU performance and AI ecosystems.” Apple Intelligence will arrive on iPhone as a beta later this year, powering generative AI tools such as Apple’s Image Playground, as well as integration with ChatGPT for more complex questions and queries. It should also give Siri a much-needed shot in the arm. With Microsoft’s own recently-released AI features branded a “bad joke”, the door is wide open for Apple. 

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Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9