Tests confirm iPhone 11 Pro is king in CPU and GPU performance

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Nothing comes close.
Photo: Apple

The A13 Bionic chip packed into the iPhone 11 series is significantly faster than its predecessor across the board. New tests have confirmed Apple’s claims of a big increases in both processing and graphics performance

And just as you might expect, the A13 blows its rivals out of the water.

Apple says the A13 is up to 20% faster in processing and graphics, while being a lot more efficient. Those bumps aren’t quite as substantial as those between the A11 and A12, but they’re still big.

And the good is Apple’s claims appear to be right on the money. In fact, extensive testing by AnandTech reveals the increase in graphics peformance is actually a lot better than Apple promised.

A13 performance makes iPhone 11 a powerhouse

An increase in clock speed, coupled with improvements to the A13’s memory subsystems, allows for a performance boost of up to 20%. In some tests, the A13 actually matches desktop CPU performance.

“Last year I’ve noted that the A12 was margins off the best desktop CPU cores,” writes Andrei Frumusanu. “This year, the A13 has essentially matched best that AMD and Intel have to offer.”

Apple’s claims of increased efficiency are a little more complicated than it makes out, however. When the A13 is operating at peak performance, it’s actually just as power-hungry as its predecessor.

A13 efficiency a little confusing

In other words, Apple’s promises of a 20% increase in performance and a 30% increase in efficiency cannot be enjoyed simultaneously. It’s one of the other, AnandTech explains.

“In effect what this means is that at the performance point equivalent to the peak performance of the A12, the A13 would use 30% less power,” Frumusanu continues.

But when the A13 runs even faster, it uses just as much power as the A12 when that’s maxed out.

A13 graphics a huge improvement

Graphics performance is where the A13 Bionic really shines. Testing reveals a 38% increase on average — almost double that of the increase Apple advertises. But there is a catch.

That 38% increase is based on the results of A12 testing this time last year. Since then, Apple has rolled out iOS 13, which actually makes big improvements to GPU performance for the iPhone XS.

Compare the differences today, then, and peak performance of the A13 is around 20% higher than that of the A12, as Apple claims.

How A13 performance compares to rivals

The A13 lags behind the latest Snapdragon chips from Qualcomm in some GPU tests. That’s a result of more aggressive thermal throttling on iPhone, which prevents the A13 from getting too hot.

In other tests, however, the A13 “is better able to flex its muscles and more clearly takes the lead in terms of both peak and sustained performance,” AnandTech explains.

And it is sustained performance we should really focus on, Frumusanu says.

It’s no good having a GPU that’s twice as fast as its rivals if it can only sustain those speeds for a few minutes. But the A13 is much better as sustaining higher speeds over a longer period.

iPhone 11 Pro’s sustained performance scores are 50-60% faster than those of iPhone XS.

Overall, A13 is the best mobile chip on the market today. It makes the iPhone 11 series far faster than any of its rivals, as well as previous Apple handsets.