iPhone 14 — No M1!

In this video, I’m going to tell you exactly why Apple isn’t putting M1 into the iPhone. Not the current iPhone 13, and not the upcoming iPhone 14 either. iMac, sure. iPad Pro, why the hell not. But iPhone? No. iPhone Pro. No.

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Apple put M1 into the iPad Pro, so why not, at the very least, the iPhone Pro? It’d give us Thunderbolt, if nothing else, yes? No.

And for two main reasons. First, they kinda already did. M1 is based on A14 Bionic. Same Firestorm performance cores. Same Icestorm efficiency cores. Same G13 graphics cores. You get the idea. M1 is basically A14X, as in A14 with extra cores, and some Mac-specific features like Hypervisor and Rosetta accelerators. Or, put another way, A14 is basically M1 Jr. So, Apple been there, shipped that, all the way back with the iPhone 12.

And that means, in terms of pure silicon IP generation, putting M1 in the iPhone 14 would be a massive generational step backwards. Like a 2 year step backwards by the time September rolls around again.

Which, can I just say, even though 2020 turned out to be the longest Tuesday in March ever, 2021 and now 2022 feel like they’ve gone by in a blink. Like, a Weeping Angel don’t even blink, because every time you do, it’s a month closer to eating your temporal face. Whatever. I just mean, it’ll be here all too soon enough.

So, on a pure single core performance and efficiency basis, putting M1 in the iPhone 14 makes the kind of sense that doesn’t. The silicon team is maniacal about stuff like this, just zero acceptable regression.

Why is Apple still using M1 in Macs then, if it’s 2020 era A14 Bionic generation IP? Well, because there’s two ways to push a chipset forward. One is through time and the other is through space. Apple has been pushing out new generations of A-series chipsets, on the year, for over a decade now. It just takes them pretty much the whole entire year to push them out. That’s time.

But Apple’s also been putting out X versions of the A-series, not every year, but many years, for just about a decade now as well. And those X versions have, literally, extra cores. They’re bigger. But even space is subject to time.

So, Apple spins out a dance of Ice and Firestorm cores, and those go into the A14 for the iPhone 12 in October, then Apple adds the extra CPU and GPU cores, RAM, Thunderbolt controllers, and other extras, and that goes into the M1 for the MacBook Air in November, and then Apple adds even more extra CPU and GPU cores, RAM, Thunderbolt controllers, and PreRes engines, and that goes into the MacBook Pro the following October. But all built on that same foundation.

Because the A-series has to ship every year on the year for the new iPhone, that means the iPhone 13 got the A15. Next-generation Avalanche performance cores, Blizzard efficiency cores, G14 graphics cores, and hey, wow, a version of that ProRes engine Apple was working on for the M1 Pro and Max. Because there’s really no rule against mixing and matching off-core features. I mean, you love to see it.

And yeah, A15 was a little faster and a lot cooler than A14 on a core-for-core basis, but that didn’t really matter for Macs with M1 and just way, way, way massively more cores. Not how it matters for the much smaller enclosures of the iPhone… and maybe an updated MacBook or MacBook Air eventually…

Because with those extra M1 cores comes extra power draw and heat. A lot of it. An A-series iPhone CPU pulls maybe 6-7 watts. An M1 Mac CPU, maybe 16 or more. The MacBook Air in the not-yet-updated design can only sustain M1 flat out for around 20 minutes before it saturates. An iPhone 14 Pro with a 5th GPU core already throttles under heavy load. With 8? It’d melt faster than that new emoji face..

So, what about M2? Could Apple, would Apple, put that in iPhone 14 or maybe just iPhone 14 Pro? Still no, and still for two main reasons.

First, if we see M2 before the fall, like in a new MacBook Air or iPad Pro, it would almost certainly be based on the current generation A15 IP, Avalanche and Blizzard, just like M1 was based on A14 generation IP, Firestorm and Icestorm. And Apple already put the A15 in the iPhone 13. So that’d still be a step back, a regression. And, again, Apple’s silicon team is just all Ethan Hunt level living manifestations of destiny about that.

If we see M2 towards the end of the year, then it’s possible it could be based on the next generation A16 IP, which is rumored to once again shrink the process, this time from 5 nanometers to 4 nanometers, maybe even 3. That means that Apple could pack even more performance into the same size die, the same performance into a smaller die, or most likely — a good balance of both. In other words, faster again but also much more efficient again.

And while that might sound like something Apple could cram into an iPhone, you know, if they took a crowbar or some Pym particles to it, the answer would still be a full on Roy Kent-calibur no, because M2 is rumored to be getting even more cores than M1, up to 10 graphics cores, and the iPhone’s thermal envelop is already going thermo nuclear with 5.

So, unless Apple decides that the hype around M1 is so… hype… that they just simply have to go all-in on that brand, and actually renamed it to M2 Jr. or, fine, more likely M2 Air or M2 mini or whatever, my best guess is the iPhone 14 will get the next in a series that’s carried it all this way already — A16. And either way, anyway, all signs point towards it being just one hell of a system on a chip. And the iPhone 14 being just one hell of an iPhone.