iPhone 16 rumored to get exclusive on-device AI features with iOS 18

Siri presenting 'Go ahead, I'm listening' in text on iPhone screen.
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

This year’s iPhone 15 lineup brought marked upgrades, but a lot of the cooler features are related to what iOS 17 brought to the table. Apple’s expected to follow it up by focusing heavily on artificial intelligence with the next version of its iPhone software, iOS 18, which is a welcome direction given how rival tech companies are tapping AI in new ways to enhance the experience on their devices.

Google’s new Pixel 8 phones have been the most prolific phones when it comes to showing off how AI-assisted features can be helpful on a daily basis. For example, with the help of the Tensor chipset powering the latest Pixels, you can choose faces for that picture perfect photo with the Pixel 8 Pro’s new Best Take feature.

There have been rumors swirling around Apple's work on its own chatbot, called Apple GPT, to rival OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google Bard. But a new rumor paints a larger picture on how the iPhone 16 could benefit most from new AI-powered features with iOS 18. Just last month it was speculated that Apple was spending $1 billion a year on AI, and that Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman alluded to Apple integrating AI into iOS on multiple fronts and at a deeper level.

The latest rumor paints an interesting picture on next year’s iPhone 16 release. Leaker @Tech_Reve says that iOS 18 will bring large language models to existing iPhones through cloud-based AI, while the iPhone 16 would have that capability on-device. This could be a plausible situation given how AI-assisted features with Siri would require much more processing power than you'll find on current iPhones. It's believed that Apple will lean heavily on new A-series chips for its next iPhones, with the rumored A18 chipset likely to use a similar 3-nanometer process first introduced with the iPhone 15 Pro's A17 Pro.

On-device AI features won’t be the only exclusive thing accompanying the iPhone 16 series, but they could also get a solid state button — which was long believed to be the Action button on the iPhone 15 Pro series. Instead, this so-called “Capture Button” would be an extra capacitive one on the iPhone 16 that could detect pressure and touch. While we’re still far from knowing what exactly a Capture button could do, you can bet that Apple’s going to want to package AI applications with it.

As for other phones that would subsequently support iOS 18? They would still be able to support the majority of Apple's AI features, but probably through the cloud and not as fast as the on-device AI functionality of the iPhone 16. Apple undoubtedly has a lot to catch up on, especially when you look at what Google has done with building its robust AI-assisted features with the Pixel 8.

Wouldn’t it be great if Siri could do more than just transcribe messages from people leaving live voicemails on your iPhone? Perhaps you could choose responses that Siri would suggest? There’s still a  lot of time before Apple is expected to preview iOS 18 at WWDC 2024, so we’re eager to see how it all shapes up.

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John Velasco
Senior Channel Editor for Phones

John’s a senior editor covering phones for Tom’s Guide. He’s no stranger in this area having covered mobile phones and gadgets since 2008 when he started his career. On top of his editor duties, he’s a seasoned videographer being in front and behind the camera producing YouTube videos. Previously, he held editor roles with PhoneArena, Android Authority, Digital Trends, and SPY. Outside of tech, he enjoys producing mini documentaries and fun social clips for small businesses, enjoying the beach life at the Jersey Shore, and recently becoming a first time homeowner.