Why AI Will Derail Apple’s Cautious iPhone 16 Plans

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Apple has worked hard to separate the iPhone and iPhone Pro lines in order to justify the increased price of the Pro phones without diminishing the capabilities of the vanilla iPhone. Yet the difference between the two could change radically later this year, and it’s all because of AI.

The launch of Google’s Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro came just weeks after the launch of the iPhone 15 family and signaled the start of a public race to pack smartphones with AI. Google hoped the Pixel would be the first “AI-first” smartphone, Samsung’s Galaxy AI took the lion’s share of stage time when the Galaxy S24 family was launched, and other manufacturers and suppliers leaned heavily on artificial intelligence. were

Thanks to Apple’s iPhone 15 launch before this Android avalanche, it seems the iPhone is missing out on the AI ‚Äč‚Äčrevolution. A closer look at how Apple has added features to the iPhone reveals the use of Siri, computational photography, and automated AI. All of these are valid but not “sexy”.

AI doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to understand the principles behind AI, program the software and develop the hardware. How far Apple is pushing to build a generative AI system and how long-term the plan is to release Apple AI at the start of the 2024 product cycle is for another article. What is clear is that the iPhone 16 family will ship with various generative AI systems, both locally and in the cloud. We’ll see them in more detail at Apple’s upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

Running generative AI natively requires a significant amount of processing power. The latest Android chipsets from Qualcomm, Mediatek and Samsung have dedicated hardware for generative AI, increasing process efficiency in terms of both speed and energy. It’s worth noting that going back a generation to the 2023 chipset limits the ability to perform AI on the handset, leaving no choice but to use the cloud.

Which leads me through the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro to the iPhone 16. Apple has worked over the past few years to get some clean air between the features of the vanilla and Pro handsets. Last year’s iPhone 15 shipped with Apple’s A16 chipset, while the iPhone 15 Pro shipped with the A17 Pro, a clear race between the two handsets.

As Apple moves to add AI (as consumers now understand it) to the iPhone, there’s every expectation that Apple will want to do as much on-device processing as possible, no doubt marketing. citing its privacy benefits throughout its content. As Android manufacturers have discovered, if you want smooth AI on a device, you need hardware support in the chipset.

Thankfully, Apple has a new A17 chipset available for the 2024 iPhone family, and it’s almost guaranteed that the A17 will have dedicated hardware dedicated to processing generative AI. Now, the question is how to handle the artificial spectacle split between the two handsets.

I highly doubt Apple will limit AI to the iPhone 16 Pro and 16 Pro Max. Apple AI will need to be available across the board on all new devices. If so, Apple would need to move the iPhone 16 up the ladder that many expected this time last year. Similarity to the A17 of current Pro models isn’t enough, the iPhone 16 will need similar AI hardware capabilities.

The iPhone 16 is set to deliver a major power boost, and it’s all thanks to AI.

Now read the latest iPhone, iPad and MacBook headlines in Forbes’ weekly Apple News Digest.

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