One of the open questions of any iteration of the iPhone is how substantial the hardware upgrade will be, and who’s making the chip. Will Apple try to squeeze more performance out of its current chip, or upgrade? The iPhone 5 was always likely to be an upgrade, but it’s an upgrade from a very interesting source.

According to photos leaked on MacRumors, the new iPhone will be packing Apple’s A7 chip, which is of interest to Apple watchers not least because that means the A6X powering the most recent Apple products is officially out of the iPhone and iPad product line. This doesn’t mean we won’t be seeing A6s elsewhere: Apple still uses its A5 for some of its products, and the A6 might be used in updates to the iPad Mini or in the rumored $99 iPhone. But it does mean it’s officially no long the flagship chip.

Also of interest is who’s making it. Generally, Samsung has been manufacturing the processors for iPhones and iPads, but needless to say, that’s a partnership both parties are fairly eager to start phasing out. However, it wasn’t supposed to happen until the A8. But looking at the A7, there’s a different serial number which might indicate chip manufacturer TSMC is taking over a bit earlier than thought.


What we don’t know, however, is just how powerful this chip will turn out to be. This is hardly anything new: Apple plays it close to the vest with their chips, especially when they transitioned to chips designed in-house. If trends hold, however, the A7 will be a dual-core chip with major performance gains over its predecessor, although whether it will be twice as fast as the A6 was to the A5 is an open question. Either way, though, the next iPhone is going to be very interesting both inside and out.

Dan Seitz

Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.