August 22 update below. This post was first published on August 20, 2023.
It’s barely a month until Apple’s big special event of the year, when it reveals its next-generation iPhones and Apple Watches. That’s likely to be on Tuesday, September 12—full details here.
While there have already been leaks about missing protective cases, the inclusion of unprecedented storage, and jaw-dropping display improvements, it’s now becoming clear that the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max could see a blazing-fast increase in performance. Here’s what we think we know, and why it matters.
The increasingly essential leaker Unknownz21 has just tweeted details of the processor, RAM, CPU and GPU for the next Pro phones. They have already revealed some of these details but have now broken them down to make them more accessible. Here’s the tweet and what it means.
Why 3nm Matters
The leaker rightly focuses first on the 3nm manufacturing process used for the A17 chip which will power the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. The smaller the number to the left of the nm, which stands for nanometer, the more you can squeeze on to a processor. The more you can squeeze on, the better. By comparison, the A16 has a 4nm fabrication—and that’s no slouch. The A16 is expected to be in the non-Pro phones, that is, the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus.
The benefits of 3nm are huge. As Hartley Charlton at MacRumors eloquently put it, “The increased number of transistors that are made possible by 3nm allows the chip to perform more tasks simultaneously and at a faster rate, while using less power.”
Better performance while using less energy means fast, fast, fast results without draining the battery unduly. The perfect storm, then.
More Cores Mean Performance Soars
Forgive me for rhyming. The leak also specifies that the next Pro iPhones will have six cores in the CPU and six in the GPU. That’s compared to the A16 chip (and again, that’s really fast already) which has six cores in the CPU and five in the GPU. That extra core means the system can extract more performance and since it’s a GPU core, and GPU stands for graphics processing unit, it means the next Pro iPhones will likely be capable of much more impressive graphics. Maybe ray-tracing for games? Whatever, it will be a big step up in power.
“The two performance cores run at a speed of 3.70Ghz,” the leaker says. The current fastest iPhone performance in the iPhone 14 Pro and will almost certainly be found in the iPhone 15, is 3.46GHz. This indicates faster power coming.
Bigger RAM Possible
This isn’t nailed down yet but it looks possible that the A17 chip will be supported by either 6GB or 8GB of RAM. It’s not clear which, but it’s possible that if the iPhone 15 Pro has a version with 2TB of storage, that 8GB of RAM will be used there.
Why Does Any Of This Matter?
Here’s the thing, Apple never puts components in a device unless it believes it can use them fully, often to the max. Which means that if the leak’s suggested spec improvements come to pass, Apple must have some cool new features up its sleeve to take advantage of them. Exactly what those are will be revealed in less than a month.
August 21 update. It’s only a matter of weeks until all these reports and rumors about the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro become history, as the real deals are unveiled in Cupertino. But that doesn’t mean we’ve got to the end of the road yet.
The latest indications come down to something very different from the processor and RAM discussed above, but still an intriguing update: the bundled cables (and by extension, the color of the iPhone). According to a tweet from someone calling themselves Kosutami, samples of these cables have been spotted, and this leak correlates with comments from recognized leaker Majin Bu.
These iPhone cables, unless we’ve all been wildly misled, will be USB-C to USB-C cables for the first time. A change from the USB-C to Lightning cables usually found in the iPhone box. And that isn’t the only first.
The bundled cable will be braided, for the first time in an iPhone box. Braided cables are generally thought to be durable and less likely to tear or fracture than the regular cables with plastic covers. We’ve all seen iPhone cables with kinks, tears, cracks or frays, so something sturdier will be a welcome change.
Apple already makes braided Lightning cables, as a cable to charge the Magic Mouse and Magic Keyboard that come with the most recent iMac. Those braided Lightning cables are color-matched to the iMac. So, in the case of my eternally delightful yellow iMac, the cable is a pale yellow, save for the glossy white plastic shells at the ends of the cables.
This process will be replicated for the iPhone, if Kosutami is correct. The colors predicted in a leaked photo are pale yellow, pale blue, purple, an orangey-pink and black. The black cable is the only one where the cable ends aren’t white. It appears it has black ends. All of the cables have strain relief tubes at each end, to add to the durability.
The colors more or less match the leaks that have been predicted for the iPhone 15. Pink has been mentioned (rather than orange but maybe it’s a kind of coral finish) and blue. There’s no mention of a cable which could be called PRODUCT(RED) and the leaked image doesn’t show a silver or white option, which will surely be included. So, we don’t have the definitive color list yet. But we’re getting there.
August 22 update. Another day, another leak. I don’t want to get caught up in the weeds on this, but it looks like the whole iPhone 15 cables mystery is deepening further. Leaker Kosutami has now added to their cable beliefs. The latest tweet suggests that it’s not just woven nature that’s new, nor the colors. No, the cable’s going to be a different length, too.
This could be a highly useful update. Have you ever plugged your iPhone in to charge only to find it won’t quite reach from the socket to your desk or wherever you could easily access it? If so, maybe Apple has been listening and, as Kosutami claims, the new cable is going to be a full 50% longer than it is now, that is, 5 feet (1.5 meters) instead of the current 3 feet 3 inches (1 meter). That would certainly be more useful, without taking up too much more space in your bag or weighing noticeably more in your luggage.
It would take up some space, though, and would require what the leaker calls, “a new internal layout of package.” Not necessarily bigger packaging, you understand, and Apple would surely resist that because bigger boxes mean fewer in a delivery, but rewiring the way things are laid out inside.
Meanwhile, Majin Bu has also chimed in, saying, “Most likely the length of the new iPhone 15 USB-C cables will be 1.5 meters,” and commented on the strength, adding, “They will also be much more resistant than the current ones.” This comment has already proved controversial, though, with 3D artist Ian Zelbo tweeting, “This is obviously not for iPhone.” Majin Bu has two other comments to make. First, “it may also be an iPad standard cable… After all, does the iPhone need a cable as long as 1.6 meters?” Their second comment is, frankly, chilling: “Maybe it will be sold separately.”
We won’t know for sure until, or possibly after, Apple reveals the new iPhones on (we think) Tuesday, September 12. After all, it’s quite possible Apple won’t feel that the supplied cable merits a shout-out at what is likely to be a very packed keynote.