Excited for Apple's AI features? You’ll need this iPhone to make the most of them

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

iOS 18 is set to be a very big deal, and could finally see some serious AI features make their way to iPhone users. Unfortunately it sounds like some people won’t be able to take full advantage of those features. Because they may be limited to iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max.

According to Mark Gurman at Bloomberg many of Apple’s new on-device AI features will require an iPhone 15 Pro (or newer) to work. This is no doubt due to various hardware limitations involved with on-device AI processing. Those features require a lot of resources, and doing it without leaning on the cloud means you need some pretty hardcore tech to make it happen.

Because the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are the only devices with the latest A17 Pro chipset, it means they’re the only ones that have what it takes. Even the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus would miss out because they run on the A16 Bionic, which first debuted in 2022 on iPhone 14 Pro.

Apparently Apple may use this as a way to push people to upgrade their devices. Either to the iPhone 15 Pro series or the upcoming iPhone 16 — which are rumored to all offer an A18 chipset of some kind. And since iOS 18 will likely launch right before the iPhone 16 launch, it could help push people tom ditch their older phones.

Gurman also claimed that iPads and Macs running the M1 chip or newer would be able to take advantage of new on-device features. It’s been a few years since the M1 chip first debuted, and no doubt a larger proportion of users will have a compatible device. 

It’s unclear what this will mean for the brand new M4 chip, which is supposedly built specifically for AI. But since there are no M4 Macs, only M4 iPad Pros, then its possible Apple could put that chip on the backburner pending a new hardware announcement — which is rumored to happen before the end of the year.

iPad Pro 2024

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

A lot of rumors have emphasized Apple’s wish to keep AI processing on user devices, for the sake of privacy and security. However Gurman has previously reported on the company’s plans to include some kind of cloud connection, with new measures in place to keep users and their data safe. So it’s going to be interesting to see where the line is, and how Apple differentiates the two kinds of AI processing.

No doubt we'll be hearing all about this at WWDC on June 10, along with Apple’s other AI plans. According to Gurman those plans will also include revealing how Apple plans to revamp Siri for the AI era, though we may have to wait until next year to experience the full effects. 

We’ll find out more in a couple of weeks time, and until then you can stay up to date on all the latest news and rumors in our WWDC 2024 hub.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.