The iPhone 16 might be a bigger upgrade than we thought

Green iPhone 15 showing home screen.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The iPhone 16 is due for some big upgrades if the latest rumors are to be believed. According to CTEE (per AppleInsider), Apple is planning on putting the latest and greatest A18 chip in both the iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Pro models, which would close the performance gap that’s typically existed between devices in the lineup. This is a significant and fairly positive change for people who usually buy the base or Plus model due to cost reasons.

Sources also claim that Apple has upped its chip order from TSMC, its main supplier. The company is anticipating selling between 90 million and 100 million units of the iPhone 16, a step up from the 80 million to 90 million iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro units it sold last year. If true, this would be a significant departure from what Apple has done in previous generations.

For reference, the iPhone 15 lineup had different chips based on the model you bought. If you purchased the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, you got the A17 Pro, Apple’s top-tier chip at the time. If you picked up the iPhone 15 or 15 Plus, you got the A16.

A photo showing four dummy models of the iPhone 16 series.
iPhone 16 dummy models Sonny Dickson / X

Additional evidence that Apple is moving in this direction comes from MacRumors, which has looked at iOS code that lists model numbers for the iPhone 16 series. Interestingly, each model has numbers ranging from 17,1 to 17,5. Typically, the number denotes the chip the phone uses, so 17 means that the entire lineup will get chips from the same family.

If you’ve been following recent developments, the logic behind this is pretty clear. Every iPhone 16 model with the A18 would allow Apple to bring Apple Intelligence features to its entire lineup. Currently, only the iPhone 15 Pro with the A17 Pro processor can fully take advantage of Apple Intelligence.

However, that doesn’t mean that Apple’s two-tier system is breaking down entirely. The new A18 processor is expected to be a retooled A17 Pro with a new N3E process, while the iPhone 16 Pro and Pro Max will get a new A18 Pro chip that’s 15% to 20% bigger than the A18, letting it boast more “graphics and AI computing units.” It may also be possible that Apple might disable some features of the A18 so that the iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Plus are slightly weaker than the Pro models. It could also use lower-binned chips for the phone, so there may still be a significant performance difference.

As for other specs, we’ve gotten a fairly substantial set of leaks and rumors about what’s coming, but one of the most recent ones is a new OLED display for the base iPhone 16 models using an “M14 AMOLED stack.” Again, if true, this suggests more convergence between the different models of the iPhone 16. With the phones expected to launch during Apple’s iPhone event in September, expect to get more details in the coming weeks and months.