iPhone 13 and iPad mini benchmarks don't tell whole story
Macworld|November 2021
Benchmarks of Apple's newest devices reveal a different kind of chip.
JASON SNELL

In September, Apple announced the new A15 processor in a peculiar way: by comparing its new chip to the Android competition, rather than the A14 that powered last year's generation of iPhones. We were all left to try to infer the speed of the A15 (fave.co/3D127xU) based on Apple's claims, wondering if the company was obscuring the performance improvements in the A15 because they weren't particularly impressive.

Recently things have gotten a lot clearer with the first reviews of the iPhone 13 (fave.co/3uBYnwt) and iPhone 13 Pro (fave.co/3FjwcHm), as well as a look at what the iPad mini (fave.co/3mg|V4U) has to offer. Now we've got the cold, hard facts about the A15—and it's more complicated and interesting than I guessed last week. The net result? Apple is making one chip but using it in three different ways, and while some aspects of the A15 upgrade aren't particularly exciting, others are quite impressive. Systems on chips made at a scale of 5 nanometers are complicated. Who knew?

THE A15 IS A PRODUCT LINE

It turns out that while the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPad mini are all powered by the A15, each of them is using the A15 in a different way. The A15s in all four iPhone 13 and 13 Pro models are running at 3.23GHz, but the A15 in the iPad mini is underclocked to 2.93GHz. The A15s in the iPhone 13 Pro and iPad mini have five graphics cores, but the A15 in the iPhone 13 has only four.

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