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


View All Comments

  • 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. Reply
  • PickUrPoison - Saturday, December 12, 2020 - link

    5s and 6 are like $25-50 used, they’re 5+ years old. Reply
  • TelstarTOS - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    yet another skip year with notch. Reply
  • PickUrPoison - Saturday, December 12, 2020 - link

    Get used to it. Apple’s ok with it. Eventually it’ll get smaller and occupy minimal bezel space. Think 7-10 years and be happy if it’s faster. Reply
  • anonomouse - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    Is there a pending Mate 40 Pro / Kirin 9000 review where all of the numbers for that are coming from? The GPU in particular for that looks very.... not great. Reply
  • tk.icepick - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    Great review Andrei!

    A small error: On the GPU Performance & Power page, the performance drop from 11 Pro to 12 Pro is 64.78 fps to 56.06 fps. The following paragraph lists a 45% performance regression, but that would be comparing the peak performance of 11 Pro to the sustained performance of 12 Pro.
    56.06/64.78 = 86.53%. Still a regression, but only ~14%, not 45.
  • dudedud - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    Speaking of the throttling, do the 12 series employ the same graphene layer to disperse the heat as last year iPhones?
    I haven't seen any indication of using it this time (iFixit didn't mention it), and maybe that's the reason for the lower sustained performance even when the efficiency is better?
  • flyingpants265 - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    $799 is high, but it's more reasonable than $1300.

    Always remember that the Realme X 4GB is $145 USD on AliExpress, that should be the price for all budget phones going forward.

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