Could chip supply issues impact this fall's iPhone 14 launch? A leaker suspects it will, pinpointing chip shortages as a possible explanation for the rumor that some new iPhones will feature older A15 Bionic chips.
Multiple reports have already claimed that the standard iPhone 14 model and a new iPhone 14 Max version will not get new chipsets, instead using retooled A15 Bionic silicon featured in the current iPhone 13 Pro models. The A16 Bionic, Apple's next likely chipset, would instead be reserved for the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.
Writing at iDrop News, leaker LeaksApplePro takes the claim on step further. "Apple is seriously considering using the A15 in the non-pro iPhones later this year," they write. "However, the Cupertino-based company plans to call it the A16 chip."
In this scenario, the iPhone 14 Pro models would still get a new chip, but this one would be called the A16 Pro. It would be a 4nm chipset, as opposed to the 5nm A15 Bionic.
Chip shortages are the culprit
The reason for the switcheroo would boil down to manufacturing constraints, says LeaksApplePro, alleging that Apple is having a hard time making both the A16 chipset and the M2 silicon slated for new Macs. By prioritizing the M2 over the A16, Apple would have a shortage of chips for this fall's phones, which is why it would turn to older silicon for the non-Pro iPhone 14 models.
Certainly, LeaksApplePro isn't the first to claim that last year's chip could wind up in some of this year's phones. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who's tied into Apple's supply chain, reported something similar earlier this month. Yet, there are reasons to be skeptical that Apple would simply slap a new name on an older chip, and not just because the LeaksApplePro report doesn't cite any specific sources to back up its claims.
For starters, whatever else you want to say about Apple, it knows a thing or two about marketing. Simply relabeling an older chip and hoping nobody notices would be a PR blunder that would likely get Apple roasted by phone reviewers.
I'd also be dubious about any claim that Apple would prioritize anything that might impact iPhone supplies. The move to Apple-designed silicon has been good for the Mac business, helping it grow in recent quarters. But the iPhone remains the big revenue driver for Apple, accounting for 58% of the company's sales during the holiday quarter. Macs made up a little less than 9% of Apple's sales in that same quarter, trailing the wearables and services segments.
A more reasonable scenario is the one laid out in a 9to5Mac report from this month that dealt with a number of different iPhone 14 rumors. That report claimed the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max would use the version of the A15 Bionic found in the iPhone 13 Pro models, but that Apple could make a few improvements and possibly rebrand the chip as the A15x Bionic. That would certainly seem more in line with how Apple's handled chip updates in the past.
iPhone 14 pricing rumors
LeaksApplePro also repeats a claim they first raised back in January — that iPhone 14 Pro models are due for a price hike over this year's models. Part of the reasoning here is that the iPhone 14 Max would cost $899 and that Apple would want to keep a $200 price gap between its standard and pro iPhones. Another reason is LeaksApplePro's claim that Apple plans to really differentiate the iPhone 14 Pro handsets from the standard models.
On that front, rumors certainly seem to suggest the Pro phones are in line to get the choicest features. That includes the removal of the notch, fast refresh rates, a better main camera, and even USB-C.
It's worth remembering that all of these rumored features may not pan out. We won't know for certain until later this fall, when the iPhone 14 models are expected to debut. But we can certainly expect to hear more rumors about Apple's upcoming phones between now and then.