AnandTech reviews iPhone 5s: Apple’s 64-bit A7 is seriously impressive

“The iPhone 5s is quite possibly the biggest S-update we’ve ever seen from Apple. I remember walking out of the venue during Apple’s iPhone 5 launch and being blown away by the level of innovation, at the platform/silicon level, that Apple crammed into the iPhone 5,” Anand Lal Shimpi reports for AnandTech. “What got me last time was that Apple built their own ARM based CPU architecture from the ground up, while I understand that doesn’t matter for the majority of consumers – it’s no less of an achievement in my eyes.”

“The A7 SoC is seriously impressive. Apple calls it a desktop-class SoC, but I’d rather refer to it as something capable of competing with the best Intel has to offer in this market. In many cases the A7’s dual cores were competitive with Intel’s recently announced Bay Trail SoC,” Lal Shimpi reports. “Web browsing is ultimately where I noticed the A7’s performance the most. As long as I was on a good internet connection, web pages just appeared after resolving DNS. The A7’s GPU performance is also insanely good – more than enough for anything you could possibly throw at the iPhone 5s today, and fast enough to help keep this device feeling quick for a while.”

“Apple’s move to 64-bit proves it is not only committed to supporting its own microarchitectures in the mobile space, but also that it is being a good steward of the platform,” Lal Shimpi reports. “Apple must plan ahead for the future of iOS and that’s exactly what it has done. The immediate upsides to moving to 64-bit today are increased performance across the board as well as some huge potential performance gains in certain FP and cryptographic workloads.”

Lal Shimpi reports, “Apple’s Touch ID was the biggest surprise for me. I found it very well executed and a nice part of the overall experience. When between the 5s and the 5/5c, I immediately miss Touch ID… the iPhone 5s won’t disappoint. In many ways it’s an evolutionary improvement over the iPhone 5, but in others it is a significant step forward. What Apple’s silicon teams have been doing for these past couple of years has really started to pay off. From a CPU and GPU standpoint, the 5s is probably the most futureproof of any iPhone ever launched. As much as it pains me to use the word futureproof, if you are one of those people who likes to hold onto their device for a while – the 5s is as good a starting point as any.”

Tons more in the (very comprehensive, as usual) full review – highly recommended – here.

Related articles:
TechCrunch reviews Apple iPhone 5s: The best smartphone available – September 18, 2013
Apple’s new iPhone 5S likely to be in exceptionally short supply – September 18, 2013
USA Today’s Baig reviews Apple iPhone 5s: ‘Makes the best smartphone even better’ – September 18, 2013
Mossberg reviews Apple iPhone 5s: ‘The best smartphone on the market’ – September 18, 2013
iPhone 5s pre-orders quickly sell out in China; gold iPhone 5s sells out quickest of all – September 17, 2013
Apple’s new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c arrive in stores on Friday, September 20th – September 17, 2013

17 Comments

  1. Anand always does the most thorough review. Hopefully some of the AAPL analysts and the tech press take the time to actually read it. They may then actually understand what Apple has achieved here.

    What is interesting is his assumption that the A7 is being made by Samsung, despite the speculation from others this week that Taiwan Semi or Intel had picked up this business

    1. Yeah, the logical assumption is a 28nm Samsung process. However, others have stated that Apple is extremely good at keeping these sort of things a secret and could’ve worked with TSMC to build out a 20nm fab sooner than expected.

      The iPhone 5s should be a low enough volume that lower yields from the new 20nm process could meet demand.

      We’ll have to wait for the tear down or see if the new SoC appears in the iPad. If it does, it could very well mean Samsung is fab’ing the part. If it doesn’t, then more than likely it is TSMC… and some have even speculated that Intel is making them.

      1. Looking at the really high capital spending that Apple has been doing the last 2 years I have suspected that they financed a fab with TSMC or Global Foundries, but I am surprised that anything like this could be kept a secret for very long.

        1. I’d say it’s much, much easier to keep something like that a secret, where there may be only a few dozen people that know about it, then say a colorful plastic part that passes by 100,000 assembly line workers.

          TSMC’s 20nm process isn’t expected to hit production runs until 2014 – about the same time everyone in the industry “thought” 64-bit mobile CPUs would start appearing. So I wouldn’t be too surprised if TSMC is fab’ing the A7.

          I put “thought” in quotes, because before Apple released the A7, NO ONE was talking about or even mentioned 64-bit (outside of server specific applications). Now all of a sudden 64-bit is the “next logical step” according to some. Even though almost all other SoC vendors have gone the route of increasing cores and MHz. The fact is, they don’t have a choice, Android is currently 32-bit only. What would be the point?

  2. “When between the 5s and the 5/5c, I immediately miss Touch ID”

    This is where Apple is king… they add features you didn’t even know you needed, that is, until you started using them.

    Most other companies throw features on their devices and they end up being nothing more than gimmicks that you more or less would never use and simply like to forget about.

    Apple adds features that you immediately miss when they’re gone.

    1. Yup, I caught this tidbit as well. As I’ve said before, this is another example of Apple leaping ahead of the competition by a year or so (with the A7 and Touch ID). Similar to when they released a retina display for the iPad 3.

  3. What has been missed in this article, is where Apple designed, 64 bit silicon will be heading next, i.e., into the smaller iMac’s and MacBook Air’s.

    I think the larger iMac’s, MacBook Pro’s and Mac Pro will remain Intel for some time, but one day they will also be powered by Apple.

    Analysts should pay attention to this, as it will allow Apple to retain more of it’s income but will also hurt Intel.

  4. It’s a similar scenario, Apple announces a product, the analysts and journanalyst cry the doom and gloom and the stock drops. Then some reviews come out…
    seriously impressive.

    The stock creeps back up.

    Typical typical.

    1. It’s encrypted data, what’s someone going to do with that? Without the proper keys to decrypt it, it’s useless.

      Second, no one outside of Apple knows how the data is encrypted or even stored.

      Furthermore, you can’t use Touch ID without setting up a passcode first.

  5. These benchmarks are not real, you are being hypnotized by Apples RDF, you are being fooled by marketing, not possible without 4GB of RAM, Samsung will be 64 bit sometime, no innovation in 5s, fingerprint sensor sends everything to the NSA.

    Have I summed up all the BS yet?

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