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Apple iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max review: Is this the start of a new era of iPhones?

By Kenny Yeo - 2 Oct 2022

Performance & battery life

Only the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max are getting Apple's new A16 Bionic chip.

Introducing A16 Bionic

The iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max are the only phones this year to get the new A16 Bionic chip. The chip is built using TSMC’s newest 4nm process and it has nearly 16 billion transistors – A15 Bionic has 15 billion. It has the same core configuration as previous A-series chips, this means two performance cores and four efficiency cores. It also has five GPU cores.

As usual, Apple makes remarkable claims about its new chip. Compared to its predecessor, Apple says we can expect up to 10% faster CPU performance from the A16 Bionic. It also says A16 Bionic's CPU performance is up to 40% faster than any other rival smartphone chip. One reason the A16 Bionic is so fast is because it has 50% more memory bandwidth than A15 Bionic. Apple also says that at the same performance level, the new high-efficiency cores of A16 consume just a third of the power of even the best efficiency cores from the competition. Let’s see how it performs in our benchmark tests.

 

Geekbench 5

Geekbench CPU is a cross-platform processor benchmark that tests both single-core and multi-core performance with workloads that simulate real-world usage. Geekbench 5 scores are calibrated against a baseline score of 1000, which is the score of an Intel Core i3-8100. As a result, Geekbench 5 scores are not comparable against those of Geekbench 4, whose baseline score is derived from an Intel Core i7-6600 processor.

On Geekbench, Apple's claims of 10% faster CPU performance are about right. Single-core scores were about 8% better whereas multi-core scores saw bigger jumps of as much as 15%. Against the competition, specifically, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 in the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 5G, the A16 Bionic’s single-core scores were about 42% faster and its multi-core scores were about 40% better. Overall, it seems Apple's claims were spot on.

 

The new iPhones were also put to the test in Geekbench’s Compute benchmark which measures GPU performance. 

The A16 Bionic’s gains on the Compute benchmark were more modest. If we compare it to the more powerful version of the A15 Bionic with five GPU cores, the A16 Bionic’s gains were about 7%. 

 

JetStream 2

JetStream 2 is a combination of a variety of JavaScript and Web Assembly benchmarks, including benchmarks that came before like SunSpider and Octane. It primarily tests for a system’s and browser’s ability in delivering a good web experience. It runs a total of 64 subtests, each weighted equally, with multiple iterations, and takes the geometric mean to compute the overall score.

The A16 Bionic’s gains on JetStream 2 were significant. Compared to last year’s Pro iPhones which have five GPU cores, the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max posted gains of around 17%. They also increased their lead over their Android rivals. Even the fastest Android phone couldn’t even manage half the score of the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max.

 

3DMark Wild Life Unlimited

3DMark Wild Life is a new cross-platform GPU benchmark measures graphics performance on iOS, Android, and Windows devices. This means you can compare scores of devices regardless of platform. On iOS devices, it runs Metal; and on Android and Window devices, it runs Vulkan. This benchmark comes at a good time because prior 3DMark GPU benchmarks for mobile devices (like Slingshot and Ice Storm) are woefully old and use outdated graphics engines and rendering techniques. The benchmark is ran in Unlimited mode which renders the test offscreen and maximises the performance of the GPU.

The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max are the first phones to break the 12,000 mark on this benchmark. However, the gains were modest. Again, if we compare them to last year’s Pro iPhones with five GPU cores, their scores were about 6% better. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips have made significant progress in graphics performance, but even the flagship Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip trailed by around 15%.

 

Battery life

Our standard battery test for mobile phones has the following parameters:

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email

Let’s take a look first at the battery capacities of these phones. Curiously, the iPhone 14 Pro Max has a marginally smaller battery than the iPhone 13 Pro Max. On the other hand, the iPhone 14 Pro, as well as the iPhone 14, both have slightly larger batteries.

Battery capacity comparison
Model Battery capacity
iPhone 14 Pro Max 4,323mAh
iPhone 14 Pro 3,200mAh
iPhone 14 Plus 4,325mAh
iPhone 14 3,279mAh
 
iPhone 13 Pro Max 4,352mAh
iPhone 13 Pro 3,095mAh
iPhone 13 3,227mAh
iPhone 13 Mini 2,406mAh


Despite the slightly smaller battery and brighter display, the iPhone 14 Pro Max still lasted 22 minutes longer than last year’s iPhone 13 Pro Max. As for the iPhone 14 Pro, it lasted half an hour longer. In the real world, both phones would easily last an entire day, although it did feel like they were down a little quicker than before. But it’s hard to say if it’s due solely because of the always-on display or if it’s because I recently switched to a 5G plan. Regardless, battery life is not a concern because you have to be trying really hard to drain these devices in a single day.

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