New 'shocking' iPhone 14 rumor actually makes a lot sense

iPhone 14 Pro front and back in white
(Image credit: the Hacker 34)

We expect to hear all about the iPhone 14 in September, but that leaves plenty of time for rumors and leaks to spring up. One major one in the last few days is Ming-Chi Kuo's report, further corroborated by 9to5Mac. It's a juicy one that we've seen labeled as a "shock."

According to these reports, Apple will separate the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro in one more big way: the chipset. As we hear it, the iPhone 14 might stick with the current industry-leading A15 Bionic (what you find in the iPhone 13 Pro) while the iPhone 14 Pro will get the new A16 Bionic. 

When I first heard that, I had a visceral reaction. How dare Apple use an old chip in the new phone (albeit a good one)? But then I thought about it a little more while I used my iPhone 13 Pro Max, the most powerful phone you can possibly buy right now. I started to reconsider my reaction.

The A16 Bionic is expected to use a 4nm manufacturing process, down from the A15 Bionic's 5nm process. That will likely equal more power efficiency, potentially making the iPhone 14 Pro even more of a battery life champ than the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. With all that in mind, I don't think that the regular iPhone 14, and the rumored iPhone 14 Max, sticking with the A15 Bionic is such a bad thing.

Analysis: iPhone 14 will be Pro enough in terms of power

iphone 14 dual cutouts rumored render

A concept of the iPhone 14 Pro's display cutouts (Image credit: Tom's Guide / Shutterstock)

I bet that most people will be hard-pressed to notice a true difference between an A15-powered iPhone 14 and the A16-equipped iPhone 14 Pro — unless Apple Silicon really surprises us, which is distinctly possible. In using my iPhone 13 Pro Max, however, I've come to conclusion that the power here is plenty for the people who find the non-Pro iPhones well-suited to them.

The Pro models have stood apart based on cameras and the 120Hz ProMotion display. So it's certainly possible that the Pro line will now get the newer, more powerful processor.

The iPhone 13 Pro models can play any game on the App Store at max settings with their 5-core GPUs, even Genshin Impact. The A15 Bionic's 16-core Neural Engine handles all kinds of AI/machine learning applications with ease. The six main cores and improved image signal processor make for a mostly smooth user experience. Snapping beautiful photos is a breeze. See what I'm getting at here?

If these reports are true, the iPhone 14 will still be an improvement over the iPhone 13. The RAM will get a boost to 6GB from 4GB and that extra GPU core will make sure the iPhone 14 can play any game you want. The Pro models have typically stood apart based on cameras and now the 120Hz ProMotion display. It's not really outside the realm of possibility that the Pro line will get the newer, more powerful processor.

I still don't like the idea of the iPhone 14 using an older chipset, but I figure it isn't as bad of a thing as I initially thought. The Pro variant of the A15 Bionic will be more than enough for most people interested in the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max. The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max will have the camera upgrades and 120Hz displays, plus likely the new front camera and Face ID cutouts we've heard about. If they also stand apart because of having the newest and most powerful processor, it may not be as much of a problem as some might think.

Jordan Palmer
Phones Editor

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.