Forget iPhone 16 — the iPhone 17 could get this serious performance boost

iPhone 15 Pro Max shown in hand
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

While the iPhone 16 is still more than nine months away from its probably fall 2024 launch, we’re hearing the first bit of news about the chipset likely to power the iPhone 17. And it’s very good news if you’re looking for silicon that promises big performance gains.

Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) builds the chipsets Apple designs for its iPhones, and the chip foundry recently demoed its upcoming 2nm chip for Apple executives, according to a Financial Times report. In that article, TSMC confirmed the meeting and said that the chip is “progressing well and on track for volume production in 2025.” The company added its upcoming chip will be its “most advanced” yet and deliver industry-leading “energy efficiency” at launch.

Assuming TSMC hits that 2025 target for its 2nm chip, that would mean the silicon would be available to debut in the iPhones released by Apple that fall. If the company sticks with its current naming conventions, that would mean 2025’s iPhone 17 would debut with a 2nm chipset.

To put that development into context, the A17 Pro silicon that powers the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max is the first 3nm chip for mobile phones. A move from a 3nm process to a 2nm one would mean a denser chip that packs its transistors closer together for much better performance and power-efficiency. With the A17 already setting the pace in mobile phone benchmarks, the 2nm chip TSMC is working on figures to offer another leap forward.

While that’s good news for Apple and its users, The Financial Times noted that TSMC is far from the only chipmaker contemplating a 2nm future. 

Samsung Foundry also confirmed to The Financial Times that it’s planning to build 2nm chips and should have them ready to be bundled in smartphones (presumably the Galaxy S26) in 2025. Intel is also working on sub-2nm technology, called 18A. If Intel is successful in its chipset production, the company plans to offer 1.8nm chips, ostensibly providing a slight power boost over those Samsung and TSMC are currently producing.

But with two years left before mass production, it’s tough to say now which technology will ultimately win out. Due in large part to its Apple relationship, TSMC is the leading mobile chip maker now. But that can change if the company has production issues, its design is off, or it faces other manufacturing problems. The same can be said for Intel and Samsung. Designing and manufacturing such small chips is no easy task. And if one thing goes awry, everything is pushed back.

Either way, keep an eye on 2nm. If all goes well, it may just give you more power than ever in just two short years.

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Don Reisinger is CEO and founder of D2 Tech Agency. A communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter, Don has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes, Computerworld, Digital Trends, TechCrunch and Slashgear. He has also written for Tom's Guide for many years, contributing hundreds of articles on everything from phones to games to streaming and smart home.