Here’s why the iPhone 14 isn’t getting a new chip

Earlier this year, the generally reliable Ming-Chi Kuo broke the rather startling news that this year’s entry-level iPhone 14 would be released Not get an updated A-series chip. Instead, it would feature the same A15 chip introduced with last year’s iPhone 13.

If true, it would be an unprecedented move for Apple, which over the years has consistently released new versions of its iPhone processors as the flagship iPhones launch each year. Even if the wallet-friendly iPhone SE joins the party, it always packs the current-gen chips.

Strange as this may seem, Kuo’s prediction has been backed up by several other reliable sources – including some of our own. From what we’ve heard, the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max will stick with what’s basically the same A15 chip found in the iPhone 13 lineup; Only the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max will move to a new A16 chip.

It’s likely Apple will cover this up slightly by giving the chip a new name, perhaps with something like the A16 and A16 Pro, and there may even be a few minor tweaks, but whatever Apple calls it, this will be im Essentially still be an A15 chip underneath.

Most previous reports pointed to problems in the supply chain as the reason; Apple just can’t make enough chips to meet demand, some said. However, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman points to another cause: Apple’s chip engineering teams are spread too thinly.

It’s all about the Mac

Since the debut of the M1 in 2020, Apple’s in-house Mac chips have taken the world by storm. As if that wasn’t enough, Apple followed that first act less than a year later with the powerhouse M1 Pro and M1 Max, and then dropped the insanely powerful M1 Ultra less than six months later.

These first-generation M-series chips are revolving around just about everything else out there, and that’s just a start. Apple unveiled the M2 chip last month, which will almost certainly be followed within the next 12 months by an M2 Pro, M2 Max and M2 Ultra, and an M3 chip by this time next year.

Additionally, Apple may have faced some setbacks with its own 5G modem chip designs, but it hasn’t abandoned this project.

The problem is that all the engineering talent required to design these incredible chips has to come from somewhere. Apple has always been a “lean and mean” company in terms of design and engineering, and it hasn’t exactly seen a massive hiring wave of silicon engineers.

Most likely, Apple has borrowed talent from elsewhere, such as the teams working on the iPhone and Apple Watch chips. Like the iPhone 14, we’ve been told that the Apple Watch Series 8 will have the same chip used since the Series 6. It probably will be called an “S8” chip, but there will be an S6/S7 under the hood.

According to Gurman, this is because Apple has shifted many of its resources to the Mac side:

To get there, Apple’s silicon engineering group had to shift many of its test, development, and production resources to Mac chips. The question is whether this had an impact on the other products. Combined with supply shortages, the focus may have contributed to slower progress for the iPhone, Apple Watch, and even cellular modems.

Markus Gurman

Gurman admits that supply shortages have something to do with it too, so there’s probably some truth to the A15/A16 reports from Kuo and others earlier this year. However, he notes that this is just the culmination of years of declining earnings from Apple’s A-series chips.

For example, when Apple introduced the iPhone 13 last year, the company management conspicuously avoided direct comparisons with the A14. Instead, they focused on how it compares to competing Android chips. In 2020, Apple didn’t talk much about the A14 chip when it debuted in the fourth-gen iPad Air, but that was only because it was saved for the iPhone 12’s launch the following month.

The move to the Mac has also hampered Apple’s 5G modem efforts, though Gurman adds that he never expected Apple’s chip for the “iPhone 15” to be ready in 2023, as others had predicted. He says it’s a much bigger project than most people realize, and if Apple wants to produce its own modem chip, it should at least hold its own against Qualcomm’s offerings — a tall order considering Qualcomm has a huge lead Has.

There has been disagreement as to when Apple actually planned to release its own modem. Some analysts said it was 2023, but I’ve always believed 2024 was the earliest date for an Apple modem since the company didn’t start work on the project until around 2019. Given the complexity of building a chip that needs to connect, this is a huge step to 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G towers worldwide without exception, while performing as well or better than Qualcomm.

Markus Gurman

The other problem, Gurman shares, is that Apple’s chip engineers could suffer from employee burnout. Engineers have reported that it’s a very demanding job, run with “military precision,” and Apple has been losing engineers at an alarming rate.

In fact, Apple’s decision to move to the M1 chip in the iPad may have been motivated more by necessity than anything else. Using the off-the-shelf M1 chip already developed for the Mac saves Apple engineers the trouble of designing yet another new chip.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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