It was repeatedly tipped as the iPhone 12 range’s most radical upgrade, but new leaks suggest Apple has made a shocking design decision with the core of its new iPhones.
Turning heads, the iPhone 12 Pro Max has been spotted on popular benchmarking platform AnTuTu and it reveals some of the smallest performance upgrades in iPhone history. Moreover, while initial technological assessments suggested the range’s groundbreaking A14 chipset could be faster than a MacBook Pro, the reasons for its shortfall look to be self-inflicted.
Breaking down the scores, we learn that the iPhone 12 Pro Max has just 16% faster CPU performance than last year’s iPhone 11 line-up while graphics performance is basically flat with a 4% speed bump. More positively, memory speeds are up 22% but the big picture is these numbers were not expected from the world’s first five nanometer chip. As recently as last month, A14 CPU and GPU gains were tipped to be up to 40% and 50% respectively.
What happened? In a word, battery life. Confounding all logic this year, Apple has downgraded the batteries across the iPhone 12 range, despite them being the first iPhones to incorporate (notoriously power hungry) 5G modems. This move also led to Apple abandoning another popular but draining feature for this generation: 120Hz ‘ProMotion’ displays. And now it appears the A14 chip has been optimized for efficiency not speed to cover these battery cost savings.
In Apple’s defense, this disappointment was signposted. The company officially unveiled the A14 chip when announcing the new iPad Air and (somewhat selectively) chose to compare its performance to the ageing A12, rather than the A13. These numbers could be extrapolated, however, confirming the 2020 iPad Air would only have circa 17% and 8% CPU and GPU improvements over the A13. These numbers vary within a margin of error to the AnTuTu scores.
Again, the reason for the modest gains appears to be battery life with Apple reducing the new iPad Air’s battery capacity by 8% compared to its predecessor. But with iPhone 12 batteries becoming 10% smaller than equivalent iPhone 11 models, it may be that Apple has capped their GPU performance even more.
Given we already know Apple is also removing the bundled charger and EarPods from the iPhone 12 range, sticking with the same large notch and increasing prices, expectation levels are surprisingly low for the new models. That said, their edgy designs look great, there are appealing new screen sizes and their wireless charging will receive a mysterious magnetic upgrade.
That said, in my opinion, considering all these compromises, the smart money waits for Apple’s cheaper iPhone 12 Pro launching early next year.
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