The iPhone 14 chipset mystery just got another twist

iPhone 13 Pro
(Image credit: TechRadar)

What chipset will the iPhone 14 get? That's a mystery that the tech rumor mill has been pondering over recently, as rumors suggest it could launch with a chipset split - people think the Pro and Pro Max will get a new chip but the standard and Max might stick with the same one as the iPhone 13.

Well, a new rumor has added another twist in the mystery - according to iDrop News, that older chip (called the A15 Bionic) will return - but with a name change to the A16 Bionic. The rumor continues that the actual brand-new chip will be called the A16 Pro.

Chipsets are important for phones, as they dictate how powerful they are, and therefore how well the phones run intensive apps like games or video editors. However there are diminishing returns at the high end, and more power doesn't make the experience of using the phone noticeably different.

The report says Apple is doing this as it's struggling to produce enough new A16 Pro and M2 chipsets, and so is working on solutions to ensure it can still sell as many iPhones as possible.

This line of reasoning makes sense, though renaming the chipset might trick some people into believing the phone has a newer chipset, and is more powerful, than it really is.

While the chipset split has been rumored by loads of sources, this strange naming change has only been mentioned by this one site, so we won't take it as gospel just yet.

Analysis: we'll need a big change

We haven't seen a big Apple iPhone redesign for a few years, and we're not expecting any monumental shakeup for the iPhone 14.

However one of the upgrades we can count on is a new chipset each year - so if Apple uses the same chipset in the iPhone 14 and 14 Max as it did in the iPhone 13 series, even that step up won't come along.

If so, Apple will really need to find another improvement it can bring to the iPhone 14, to make sure buyers still want it instead of the older alternative, which will likely be a little more affordable due to being a year old.

Some rumors have suggested the iPhone 14 will lose the notch used on the iPhone 13, but it's not clear if this is all members of the line, or just the two Pro devices. 

Perhaps we'll see some serious camera or display improvements to make the iPhone 14 phones a step up - camera and screen tech manufacturing hasn't been as badly affected by the chipset shortage as... well, chipsets. But that remains to be seen.

So it's probably safe not to get too excited for the iPhone 14 just yet - that way you won't get disappointed if there are no upgrades, and if there are, you get that pleasant surprise.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. He also currently works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.