Apple introduced its new A5X processor in the third-generation iPad yesterday, and based on the company’s previous moves, we’re expecting the chip to appear in its next iPhone. However, that may not be the case. According to analysts, the chip requires too much power to be used in the iPhone, and Apple will need to create a more power-efficient chip with a new manufacturing process for its next smartphone.
Traditionally, Apple has taken the processors introduced in its iPad, namely the A4 and the A5, and packed them into its new iPhone several months later. It could be about to break that tradition this year. With the A5X focused so heavily on graphics, it consumes too much power to be used in a smartphone.
Like the A5, the A5X features two processing cores, but it offers significantly greater graphics performance to accommodate the new iPad’s high-resolution Retina display, so it eats more power. This is likely to be one of the reasons why the new device needed a better battery to provide the same ten-hour charge offered by its predecessor, and that’s why the device is ever so slightly thicker.
But that kind of performance is excessive in the iPhone, which is why several analyst believe the A5X chip is for the iPad only.
“I think that this new chip is probably just for the iPad,” said Linley Gwennap, founder and principal analyst of The Linley Group. “It looks like they [Apple] planned ahead for this.” Rather than introducing a chip the iPhone doesn’t really need, Gwennap thinks Apple may instead choose to increase its battery life with a more power-efficient CPU manufacturer on a 28-nanometer manufacturing process.
Dean McCarron, an analyst with Mercury Research, agrees. “There’s no technical reason to make the iPhone display better,” he told Macworld.
The dual-core A5 processor featured in Apple’s iPhone 4S produces incredible visuals on its Retina display, so I’d agree this isn’t something the company needs to improve with the next iPhone. Battery life, on the other hand, certainly needs some attention.