While we're less than a week away from the iPhone 14 debut, it's never too early to think about future handsets from Apple — especially when they're likely to get as big a performance boost as some are now predicting for 2023's iPhone 15 Pro.
The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max are set to get the biggest upgrades for this year's iPhone lineup, but the phone coming next year should be a powerhouse in its own right. TSMC, the Taiwanese company that builds Apple’s mobile silicon, has said that the next generation 3-nanometer chips will soon move into mass production. That likely means the 2023 edition of the iPhone will be powered by a 3nm chipset, most likely called the A17 Bionic if Apple sticks with its current naming convention.
According to a report from Digitimes (opens in new tab), the more upgraded version of this chip, the N3E, will not arrive before the official launch of the iPhone 15 Pro, which is anticipated for the fall of 2023. “N3E will further extend our N3 family with enhanced performance, power and yield," TSMC CEO CC Wei says in the Digitimes report. "We observed a high level of customer engagement at N3E, and volume production is scheduled for around one year after N3.”
The current iPhone 13 series is powered by the A15 Bionic, and both the standard iPhone 14 and new iPhone 14 Max are expected to use that system-on-chip as well. Rumors about the A16 Bionic — slated for the iPhone 14 Pro models — suggest it will use the same 5nm process as the A15, which would make this the third year Apple phones have run on 5nm chips. Our A16 Bionic vs. A15 Bionic comparison breaks down the expected differences between Apple's two chips.
Using a smaller nanometer process lets chip makers fit more transistors onto silicon, which generally means a big performance boost and better power consumption. Thus, the jump from a 5nm chipset in the iPhone 14 Pro to a 3nm version in next year's phone should be a significant one.
Gizchina (opens in new tab) cites industry sources to report that the production schedule of TSMC’s N3E reveals Apple is “the main customer of TSMC’s 3nm process manufacturing in 2023." That suggests Android phones wouldn't see a 3nm chip until 2024.
On the Android side of things, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 which could be seen in the Samsung Galaxy S23 phones, will be a 4nm chip. We might see the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 bring 3nm only in 2024.
It is worth noting though that Samsung could beat Apple to the punch in this race. A recent report from 9to5Google (opens in new tab) says that Samsung’s chip business recently started on the production of 3nm chips with a big reduction on power consumption. With Samsung phones, like next year's Galaxy S23, likely to use Snapdragon exclusively, we will have to see which phones launch with a 3nm chipset next year.
Regardless of the chipset it uses, the iPhone 14 Pro is in line for some significant updates, including a 48MP camera and a new design that eliminates the notch from its display. Less is known about the iPhone 15 lineup, though early rumors point to a periscope lens that could lead to an upgraded telephoto lens.
Still, if you need a new phone, you're unlikely to want to wait until 2023 for the iPhone 15 Pro to show up, super-charged silicon or no. Our iPhone 14 vs iPhone 14 Pro preview can give you a glimpse at the biggest expected differences between the phones Apple is set to announce next week at the same event where the Apple Watch 8 and AirPods Pro 2 could make their debuts.