Why only the iPhone 14 Pro models might get Apple’s upcoming A16 Bionic chipset

Apple’s new A16 chip could be reserved for the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, with the non-Pro models predicted to retain the company’s current A15 chipset.

Photo showing a closeup of the rear cameras on Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
Image credit: Jeremy Bezanger / Unsplash
  • Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has made a new prediction, based on supply chain chatter, claiming that only the Pro-branded models of the upcoming iPhone 14 family would get Apple’s next-generation A16 Bionic chipset. If true, this would mark the first time an iPhone family didn’t use the same chipset.
  • In addition, the RAM in the Pro models should be faster than the LPDDR 4X RAM that Kuo thinks would get used in the two non-Pro models.
  • The speedier RAM, along with the fact that the A16 could be restricted to the Pro models, suggests that the tentatively named iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max need more RAM and CPU power to power enhanced imaging features.

Non-Pro iPhone 14 models may retain the A15 chip

“Only two Pro models [of iPhone 14] would upgrade to the A16 processor,” Kuo said on Twitter, adding that the non-Pro model will remain on the current Apple A15 chipset. “All four new models will likely come with 6GB RAM,” he added, “with the difference being LPDDR 5 (14 Pro & 14 Pro Max) vs. LPDDR 4X (14 & 14 Max).”

The LPDDR 5 RAM is about 1.5 times faster and about thirty percent more power-efficient than the previous generation. By comparison, the current iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 models are equipped with 4GB of RAM, while the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max models use 6GB of RAM.

Kuo’s prediction for the iPhone 14 lineup is as follows, with the whole lineup apparently available in two sizes: 6.1 inches and 6.7 inches:

  • iPhone 14: 6.1-inch OLED screen, 6GB of RAM (LPDDR 5)
  • iPhone 14 Max: 6.7-inch OLED screen, 6GB of RAM (LPDDR 5)
  • iPhone 14 Pro: 6.1-inch OLED screen, 6GB of RAM (LPDDR 4X)
  • iPhone 14 Pro Max: 6.7-inch OLED screen, 6GB of RAM (LPDDR 4X)

One important takeaway from Kuo’s predicted lineup: The iPhone 14 Max could mark the first time a large-sized display became available on a non-flagship model. And with the iPhone mini expected to be discontinued this year, it should come as no surprise that the 5.4-inch size is conspicuously absent from Kuo’s list.

Why only the iPhone 14 Pro models might use the A16 chip

So why would Apple restrict its upcoming chipset to the iPhone 14 Pro models? This has never happened. It would mark the first time Apple released a major new iPhone family that didn’t run the same chip across the board. On the other hand, stranger things have happened. Read: Free ways to send large videos and files from iPhone

The easiest explanation would say that using two chip families in a single iPhone generation could be Apple’s new point of differentiation between Pro and non-Pro models. As for the global chip shortage, this almost certainly isn’t the reason why Apple could opt to ship some iPhone 14 models with the same A15 chip as the current iPhone 13. So the most probable explanation for the faster RAM and CPU is—photography. Earlier rumors said the next iPhone would introduce a significantly upgraded camera system with an all-new 48-megapixel sensor out the back.

What is pixel binning?

Now, that 48-megapixel sensor is said to output 12-megapixel resolution photos that are much clearer and have less noise than the ones taken with the iPhone 13 camera. That could be achieved by using pixel binning. In a nutshell, pixel binning is a technique that merges image data from multiple smaller pixels (in this case, four) into a single larger one. Read: The best iPhone camera and photography tips

Kuo previously said that users will be able to shoot images with their iPhone 14 Pro in either 12-megapixel or the full 48-megapixel resolution. For instance, 48-megapixel images would look great if shot in bright conditions such as daylight. For low-light shots, pixel binning outputting 12-megapixel photos might be a better idea.