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
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • mrvco - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    It was a good run since the OG iPhone launched, but I seem to have lost all interest in replacing smart phones. I've been using an XS Max (~work phone) and an LG V40 (~personal phone) for two years now and I'm still perfectly satisfied with both devices. They both do what I ask of them with little fuss and there just haven't been any new features or phones that have generated more than a passing interest for me.
  • Bob Todd - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    As someone who would sometimes change phones more than once a year, I've been in a similar place. We are getting to the point of "good enough" performance. Faster is always better, but high end (and even midrange) SOCs are pretty good these days. My 2 year old phone has 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and a nice large display.

    I do think this generation of iPhones is interesting for a few reasons though. The Mini doesn't even have a good analogue in the Android world, and I'm excited that premium smaller form factor phones are a thing again.
  • FunBunny2 - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    "The Mini doesn't even have a good analogue in the Android world, and I'm excited that premium smaller form factor phones are a thing again."

    it depends on use case. for those who use a smartphone mostly as a phone, then these Godzilla handsets are contraindicated. OTOH, if the use case is mostly watching video on the run, then the Max and similar make the most sense. Steve clearly intended the former, Mr. Market gave him a full body enema by telling him to shove those teeny, tiny thingees.
  • KPOM - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    My mother and sister both opted for the 12 mini since they got tired of big phones. I’m sure they aren’t alone.
  • GC2:CS - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    Well is there any reason why LPDDR5 was not used over the entire lineup (including M1) ? Is there some hidden compromise with LPDDR5 ?

    So if CPU is improved quite a bit in regards to efficiency, why the GPU lacks an update ? Is it possible that newer node benefits the CPU more than GPU ?

    I heard about new Pro Oleds having better viewing angles. This is something i would greatly appreciate. 11´s Pro do have quite big shifts in white - at screen edges it has greenish, bluish cast. Can somebody describe it a but more ?

    I think this generation could be better. But 5G is quite monumental increse in RF complexity and imagining they did it with custom antena designs and thinner designs is quite remarkable.
    For exemple three mmWave antenas were discoverd so far. One on the side next to the battery, one behind the motherboard and one under the notch on the front.

    But on the other hand 5G sucked up all the effort for other upgrades like better bigger cameras, batteries, 120 Hz and so on.

    I refuse to believe that the next one is iPhone 13. That is just so unlucky...
  • michael2k - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    I think you answered your own question. The focus on 5G took resources away from lpddr5.
  • mmm200 - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    I had both X and Xs Max, wife has 11 Pro.

    I could tell you how good the new 12 Pro Max display is.
    It is better than Apple MBP16 in both color and brightness stability! 2 weeks in I'm amazed still how good the Pro display is!

    Don't like the oversaturated images made indoor. Just too much vibrance and saturation. Looks unnatural.
    2.5x telephoto is great outdoors in sunny weather.
    HDR video capture is mindblowing! Using 1080p30 and 1080p60 - looks great on LG OLED!
  • name99 - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    It's quite possible that world LPDD5 production capacity was not yet large enough?
    My GUESS is that the memory controller can handle LPDD5, and the M1X machines will ship with it (and those will be in low enough volume that it's not an issue).

    I was surprised that the M1 Macs did not, but presumably Apple concluded it made no engineering sense -- they are clearly fast enough as is, so why not hold something in reserve to make the M1X machines look even better when they ship?
  • vFunct - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    Why do you do camera tests without a SINGLE shot of a human being? You know, because how everyone uses phone cameras to take pictures of people at parties and other social events?

    Are you unable to find anyone willing to have photos taken?
  • michael2k - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    Taking pictures of people aren't actually important for the test scenarios:
    Daylight evaluation is measuring the sensor and software in their ability to balance contrast, dynamic range, shadows, details, and color (and of course there were some people in those pictures)

    Low light evaluation is evaluating how well the software can enhance the image without sacrificing color information, creating unusual color casts, capturing details, and balancing the light and darker portions of the pictures.

    What you seem to be asking for is a review of">Portrait Mode? The 2018">Portrait Mode review was similarly brief (both less than 5 paragraphs!)

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now