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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  • vFunct - Tuesday, December 1, 2020 - link

    "Portrait-mode" is the least important piece of information necessary here for a camera review.

    You test your subjects on people to understand how well it recreates skin tones and textures.

    There were issues with previous iPhones where it would over-smooth skin textures leading to a plastic doll-like effect, for example.
  • michael2k - Tuesday, December 1, 2020 - link

    Right, but that requires you perform a Portrait Mode test, which you just claimed was the least important piece of information here.

    You cannot perform a test of the camera's skill at rendering skin tone and texture without also executing the Portrait Mode code, since that is the code that was creating the over-smooth skin texture.
  • PickUrPoison - Saturday, December 12, 2020 - link

    That over smoothing was corrected after a few weeks with an update.
  • ABR - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    The larger phones are real porkers. I have no desire to carry a half-pound of phone around, and that's before a case!
  • name99 - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    My favorite color is blue.

    Maybe everyone wants to chime in with totally non-technical personal statements of choice?
  • The Garden Variety - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    When I'm taking photos of my pizza with my iPhone, I tend to prefer almost any kind of pizza. Meat pizzas, veggie pizzas, thin crust, thick crust, New York-style crust, whatever. Not picky about pizza. Don't really care for Chicago-style, as it's basically just dough and cheese, but other than that, I'm pretty easy to please.
  • flyingpants265 - Tuesday, December 1, 2020 - link

    Wow, you are not too bright.
  • dudedud - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    Feels like the iphone 6 update coming from a 5S all over again: much better screen, somewhat better / somewhat flat on everything else.

    Hope the base 13 comes with 6GB of RAM next year to upgrade from my 11.
  • name99 - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    Like I said -- Apple does a (multi-year) tick tock with the guts vs the design.
    iPhone 6 was the A8 CPU.
    A7 excitement was housed in the good old familiar A5S case.
    A8 was very much a catch-up CPU, cleanup, tweak power, nothing exciting; the excitement was in the new phone casing.

    But then the next year the A9... 70%+ speed boost! Maybe too much to hope for with the A15 (as I discussed above!) But maybe we can expect ~15..20% IPC for the A15 and then 40..50% overall for the A16 (especially if it transitions to N3).
  • flyingpants265 - Tuesday, December 1, 2020 - link

    What the hell? 5S and 6? Who the hell is keeping track of all these models? They suck and they're overpriced, you get the last year's one for $500 or something.

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