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New leak confirms iPhone 16’s powerful new A18 chips

Published Jul 3rd, 2024 6:50AM EDT
iPhone 15 Pro Display
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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Apple made a big change to iPhone processors in 2022. This was the first year the non-Pro and Pro iPhones featured different chips. The iPhone 14 Pros introduced the A16 Bionic that Apple later used for the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus. But the base iPhone 14 variants featured the A15 Bionic chips from the previous year’s iPhone 13 series.

Apple continued this practice last year when it chose a different name for the chip powering the iPhone 15 Pros. That chip is the A17 Pro, which joined the A16 Bionic in Apple’s lineup.

The iPhone 16 will keep this practice in place. But reports earlier this year said Apple will introduce two new chips in 2024, the A18 and A18 Pro. New code findings suggest that Apple will have a new A18 chip out this year rather than reusing the A17 Pro in the non-Pro iPhone 16 models. Yes, that A17 Pro chip would be confusing if used for the iPhone 16 and 16 Plus.

Developer Nicolas Alvarez discovered the identifiers of Apple’s next-gen iPhone models. MacRumors says the discovery proves Apple wants to release four iPhone 16 models this year, not that anyone actually doubted it. More interesting is that the codenames indicate the devices will feature the same A-series chips.

Also interesting is the presence of five codenames rather than four. One of them might be associated with the upcoming iPhone SE 4 model, but that’s just speculation.

Here are Apple’s internal identifiers for the iPhone 16 series, as discovered in the code:

  • iPhone17,1
  • iPhone17,2
  • iPhone17,3
  • iPhone17,4
  • iPhone17,5

The part that we’re interested in is the “17.” It signals that all these iPhones will rock the same type of chip.

Here are the codenames for the iPhone 15 series:

  • ‌iPhone 15‌ – ‌iPhone15‌,4
  • ‌iPhone 15‌ Plus – ‌iPhone15‌,5
  • iPhone 15 Pro – ‌iPhone16‌,1
  • ‌iPhone 15 Pro‌ Max – ‌iPhone16‌,2

The “15” and “16” particles stand for the A16 Bionic and the A17 Pro chips.

It’s unclear why Apple is moving to a new generation for the iPhone 16, but I suspect Apple Intelligence could be why Apple isn’t just reusing the A17 Pro in the iPhone 16 and 16 Plus this year.

Apple has confirmed that Apple Intelligence requires fast Neural Engines and at least 8GB of RAM. That’s why the iPhone 15 Pros are the only models in Apple’s current lineup that can support the new AI features coming to iOS 18. To get Apple Intelligence next year, you’ll need to buy an iPhone 15 Pro/Max or one of the new iPhone 16 models.

With that in mind, it’ll be interesting to see the differences between the A18 and A17 Pro. Hopefully, it’s not just a rebrand. Apple will surely detail the performance of the A18 and A18 Pro chips come September, including on-device AI processing capabilities.

I still expect an A18 Pro chip to power the iPhone 16 Pros this year. A different report from Taiwan already teased that the A18 Pro would deliver better performance than the regular A18 chip, which made me wonder whether an iPhone 16 Pro would be a better choice than the iPhone 16 earlier this week.

The report said Apple would use TSMC’s N3E process for the A18 chips, adding that all four phones will feature 8GB of RAM.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.