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5 reasons why Apple’s next-gen 7nm A12 chip could be the best feature in the 2018 iPhones

WWDC may be just around the corner, but once the iOS 12 dust clears all eyes will be on the next iPhone. With rumors suggesting three new models, including a 6.5-inch one, Face ID enhancements, and faster charging, there’s a lot to be excited about, but a new report from Mark Gurman at Bloomberg suggests that the new iPhone could be revolutionary in a way most people might not even realize: the processor. iPhone supplier Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company has reportedly begun production on the processor for the next iPhone, and it could be an industry-first.

While we all know that the iPhone will have an A12 chip, following the longstanding pattern of annual chip upgrades, the new processor will reportedly use an 7-nanometer design. That obviously means it’s significantly smaller than the 10nm A11 Bionic, but it would also represent a breakthrough for both Apple and the industry, as other mobile chipmakers are working on 7nm die shrinks, but those aren’t expected to launch until next year. After all, Apple only just launched its own 10nm die process with the A11 (following Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 earlier in 2017), so moving to 7nm just a generation later is pretty impressive.

But along with bragging rights, the new manufacturing process is also sure to bring a host of improvements to the next iPhone. Here are five areas where the A12 could dramatically change the next crop of iPhones.

apple a11 Apple

Apple’s A11 Bionic was a big deal for the iPhone X, but the A12 could blow it out of the water.

Performance and speed

Apple always delivers a healthy speed boost when it launches a new iPhone, but the new 7nm chip could bring a huge jump over the A11. This year’s processor brought a 25 percent increase in performance coupled with a 30 percent graphics boost, but those numbers don’t tell the whole story. Since the iPhone X has so many more pixels to push, the new chip is actually much more powerful than the A11 Fusion.

There’s a reason why Apple is moving so quickly from 10nm to 7nm, and I suspect it’s due to a major breakthrough in speed and power. With the “all-screen” experience reportedly coming to all three models this year, including with a 6.5-inch monster, the new chip will need to deliver serious graphics power to keep everything running smoothly. With the 7nm process, Apple could make the jump from three GPU cores to six, which would dramatically up gaming and app performance. 

Battery life

In simple terms, the smaller the chip, the more power efficient is is. But with the A12, it could go way beyond that. With the A11’s 10nm process, Apple saw incredible battery gains, even if they weren’t necessarily reflected in the real world. Take a look at the iPhone X as compared to the iPhone 7 Plus to see what I mean:

Battery Capacity

  • iPhone X: 2,716mAh
  • iPhone 7 Plus: 2,900mAh

Talk Time

  • iPhone X: Up to 21 hours
  • iPhone 7 Plus: Up to 21 hours

Internet use:

  • iPhone X: Up to 12 hours
  • iPhone 7 Plus: Up to 13 hours

Video playback:

  • iPhone X: Up to 13 hours
  • iPhone 7 Plus: Up to 14 hours

Even with a smaller battery on the iPhone X, the two phones are pretty much equal. But when you consider how many more pixels the 2436 x 1125 iPhone X has to push compared to the 1920 x 1080 iPhone 7 Plus, the power efficiency of the A11 chip start to come into view. According to TSMC’s own website, the 7nm die shrink results in 40 percent power reduction, so the new 7nm chip could lead to a real breakthrough in power efficiency that pushes the next iPhone into multiple days of battery life, especially if Apple finally puts 3,000mAh batteries in the new iPhones. 

apple a11 bionic chipApple

The A11 Bionic processor is the brains behind the iPhone X and its awesome camera, but the A12 will be even better.

Camera

OK, we already know the next iPhone will have an improved camera, but the new chip could represent a huge jump in Apple’s homegrown image signal processor. Apple generally keeps the technical improvements of its ISP pretty close to the vest, but it’s easy to see the enhancements the A11 chip brought, including improved low-light autofocus and noise reduction, along with studio lighting effects and better portrait processing.

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