System Performance

System performance of the new iPhones should be again excellent given the hardware advancements on the part of the new A14 chip. Alongside iOS14, we should really see no problem with everyday tasks on the phone.

Unfortunately, our benchmark suite for iOS here is still relatively barren, and we have to mostly rely on web browser benchmarks – which isn’t all too much of an issue given that’s the heaviest and most demanding every-day workload for mobile devices.

Speedometer 2.0 - OS WebView

In Speedometer 2, the new A14 showcases a large performance boost of 30% for the new iPhone generation. This is likely both due to the clock frequency increase of the new CPUs as well as the fact that the new microarchitecture has in particular a larger amount of FP/SIMD resources available to itself.

Usually at this point we would point out that it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison to other devices in the chart, and that Apple’s Nitro JavaScript engine could simply be much superior to Google’s V8 engine, but the new release of the Apple Silicon Macs where we could finally compare Safari versus Chrome has shown very little performance discrepancy, meaning the performance here is actually due to the CPUs themselves.

Having that in mind, it means that Apple’s performance advantage over Android devices has grown even bigger this generation, with little hope for upcoming Cortex cores to catch up with such a gap.

JetStream 2 - OS Webview

JetStream 2 has heavier workloads and also make uses of WebAssembly, averaging out a smaller performance increase for the new A14 chip, but still showcasing class-leading performance amongst the competition.

WebXPRT 3 - OS WebView

WebXPRT is a browser workload that tries to mimic real-world interactions and workloads. The new iPhone 12s here actually show very little progress in terms of performance.

This small progress in WebXPRT is actually quite representative of my overall impression of responsiveness of the new iPhones: The A13 and iPhone 11 devices were already so performant and responsive that the actual speed limit for user interactions nowadays are just OS animations and just general SoC DVFS, the latter which Apple has already optimised to an ideal operation a few years back.

I would be lying if I were to say that I noticed that the new iPhone 12s are any faster than the iPhone 11 in everyday usage, but that’s simply because these are already are outstandingly fast devices.

The Apple A14 SoC: Firestorm & Icestorm GPU Performance & Power
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  • GC2:CS - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    Displaymate says peak white is like 10% down compared to 11 Pro.

    11 Pro was 8% down from the XS but at higher max brightness the efficiency suffers (apple said 15% better isoperf).

    That combined with the A14 would pretty much eliminate any fears of downgraded battery life. Unless you turn 5G on.
  • KPOM - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    Still better than what iPhones can draw from normal Qi chargers.
  • calleng - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    All this talk about edges and surface of the phone is bull. Who uses an iphone without a proper case. Maybe apple should make them out of rubber.
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    If we didn't care about the design then why bother with a heavier steel variant then? I don't care for cases for one and use all my phones naked.
  • zanon - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    calleng is completely off base but I do sympathize with Apple being tugged multiple ways here. If 70-80% of owners use a case, well, 20-30% naked is still a LOT. Tens of millions, and reviewers in particular always mention it, and it's what people feel in the store too. So it definitely matters to pay major attention to a quality naked phone experience. Yet that doesn't change a super majority using it with a case, and Apple can't possibly be completely ignoring that either.

    "Why bother with a heavier steel variant then" though really is an interesting question give the noticeable weight difference. There are lots of other premium materials, titanium of course but also all sorts of alloys and even ceramics that Apple has worked with in the past. Steel is certainly really versatile and can be very tough, but it's still a curious choice for a company that has tended to pay a lot of attention to weight and hand feel. As you say in the review it's genuinely debatable if it even is more "premium" here, and it's not like Apple doesn't have serious materials chops. They have high end titanium case options for their watches as well.
  • cha0z_ - Tuesday, December 1, 2020 - link

    The last pools I saw on the subject (this summer), it was 50% using their phones naked and 50% with a case. ;) the pool had around 40 000 voters.
  • cha0z_ - Tuesday, December 1, 2020 - link

    Same, used all of my phones totally naked (no case, no screen protector) - all in perfect condition.
  • FunBunny2 - Tuesday, December 1, 2020 - link

    from what I gather, most cracked screens are from butt compression due to carrying in back pocket. spongy rubber-ish case won't stop that.
  • iphonebestgamephone - Tuesday, December 1, 2020 - link

    Look harder and youll see how its not perfect.
  • Unashamed_unoriginal_username_x86 - Tuesday, December 1, 2020 - link

    I know it's not as comfortable or sexy, but I hope you put something on when you go outside. I don't want you getting arrested!

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