A15 vs A14 Bionic Comparison: Worth the Upgrade?

Over the past few years, Apple Silicon has been dominating the mobile CPU industry when it comes to delivering flagship-grade, first-of-its-kind feature sets onto their chipsets. A15 Bionic, the latest installment in Apple’s A-Series chipset lineup is no exception.

At the Annual Launch Event last year, the Apple Development Team confirmed that the new and improved A15 Bionic chipset would appear in the iPad Mini (6th generation) as well as the entire iPhone 13 lineup (iPhone 13 and 13 Mini; iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max). Furthermore, several claims were made regarding significant improvements to the A15’s overall performance and efficiency when compared to its predecessors. 

That said, what kind of a generational leap are we expecting from this new chipset, and how does it fare against its previous-gen counterpart, the A14 Bionic? We at Tecvalue have exhaustively analyzed both of these chipsets and will tell you everything that you need to know. Read on!

A15 vs A14 Bionic: CPU Specifications & Performance Overview

Starting off with the CPU side of things, Apple vaguely mentioned in their launch event that the A15 Bionic would be 50% faster than the rest of the competition. Even if you consider this statement to be true in some regards, there were no comparison charts to back it up.

Apple Bionic Chip Improvements
Image Source: Apple

Based on this shortcoming alone, we decided to put the A15 against Apple’s previous-gen flagship, the A14 Bionic to see whether or not the newer chipset lives up to its hype.

Manufacturing Process:

While both the A15 and A14 Bionic are 64-bit ARM-based SoCs built using TSMC’s 5nm manufacturing node, the newer variant received modest architectural improvements owing to a performance-enhanced version of the same 5nm process, dubbed N5P

Not only does this integration make the A15 the first chipset from Apple to be manufactured using the N5P FinFET technology but it also allowed the engineers at Apple to pack more transistors into the A15 – 15 billion transistors as opposed to A14’s 11.8 billion, a whopping 27.1% increase in overall transistor count. 

Core Count & Clock Speeds:

Core Count of Apple Bionic Chip
Image Source: Apple

In terms of core count, the A15 still has a maximum of 6 cores, similar to the A14 with 2 high-performance cores (codenamed Avalanche) and 4 energy-efficient cores (codenamed Blizzard). However, they are clocked slightly higher than their predecessor. 

The A15 Bionic has both of its P-cores clocked at around 3.2GHz whereas the E-cores hover around 2.0 GHz under intense workloads. On the other hand, the previous-gen A14 had a maximum boost clock of 3.1GHz and 1.8 GHz on its performance and energy-efficient cores. 

Although core clock improvements of about 10% might seem fair on paper, what could this mean for the average user? Will they be able to spot the difference between an A15 and an A14-equipped device?

Well, you won’t notice much of a performance difference in day-to-day activities. Surely, apps will open faster, gaming performance will be a tad bit better and the overall experience will certainly be that of a flagship-grade chipset. The only difference that you’ll be able to spot is in terms of battery life.

Battery Life:

By doubling up the SLC (System Level Cache), from 16MB to 32MB, Apple’s A15 Bionic is not only the most power-efficient chip on the planet but it also offers much better battery life than any of its contenders. 

When testing out the battery life on both of these chipsets, there are noticeable improvements across the board. For instance, the iPhone 12 Pro Max with its measly 3687mAh Li-ion battery managed to last for about 8 hours and 37 minutes in a YouTube video streaming test. The iPhone 13 Pro Max, on the other hand, lasted for an additional 2.5 hours over the previous-gen model in the same video playback test. 

While many of you might consider the 120Hz ProMotion Display on the iPhone 13 Pro Max to be a battery hog, a larger battery capacity (4352 mAh) along with a more refined architecture led to such impressive efficiency gains of about 20-30% across all of our endurance tests. 

A15 vs A14 Bionic: CPU Benchmarking Results

Moving onto the CPU Benchmarks, the A15 Bionic sees a hefty performance gain of around 11% over the A14 in the AnTuTu 9 benchmark, typical for a generational leap in microprocessor architecture. The A15 received an overall benchmark score of 798645 whereas the A14 managed a combined score of 721238

Geekbench 5 showed similar improvements in both single and multi-threaded workloads. The A15, once again, manages to gain a 9% lead over the A14 in the single-core benchmark, scoring 1737 as opposed to the A14’s score of 1597. Multi-core benchmark score, on the other hand, hovers around 15% for the A15 over the A14, the former getting a score of 4755 while the latter stuck at a score of 4132

However, it should be noted that raw performance numbers are only a part of the overall experience. Careful integration of flagship hardware along with great software design is essential in allowing a Smartphone or a Tablet to stand out from the rest of its competition. Apple’s track record, in this case, is astounding, to say the least. 

When you purchase an Apple product, you automatically get yourself registered into the Apple Ecosystem wherein you receive a familiar experience across all of their devices. Even if you don’t care much about performance numbers, added features, or a premium price tag, you’ll still receive a worthy product capable of handling all your needs, which in turn will definitely make you a happy consumer. 

A15 vs A14 Bionic: GPU Specifications & Performance Overview

Coming to the upgrades regarding GPU architecture, the A15 Bionic has functionally segmented its GPU configurations at the chipset level. While both the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini integrate a 4-core custom, in-house GPU to its SoC, similar to the A14-equipped devices last year, the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max receive a 5-core variant of the same chipset. 

Nevertheless, the 5-core A15 ran the 3D Mark WildLife benchmark effortlessly, managing to secure a decent score of 9558 whereas the 4-core A14 fell way short of expectations, only acquiring a total score of 7589. Although we get to see a massive 26% uplift in GPU performance for the A15 over the A14, both of these chipsets will be able to run the latest and greatest AAA titles of this generation at a stable framerate. 

A15 vs A14 Bionic: Neural Engine Improvements

One of the key aspects of the A15 Bionic that Apple focused on during their presentation happens to be the much-improved Machine Learning capabilities from its previous generation. 

16 Core Neural Engine on Apple Chip
Image Source: Apple

While both the A15 and A14 chipsets share the same 16-core Neural Engine, the Silicon Engineering Team at Apple claimed that the A15 can perform up to 15.8 trillion operations per second, a significant performance uplift from the A14’s 11.8 trillion operations per second. This is good news, especially for users who are going to take advantage of its Machine Learning features for AI workloads and Image Processing. 

The improvements brought about by the new A15 Bionic over its previous-gen counterpart, the A14, are a clear indication of Apple’s intentions in the mobile chipset industry. With the performance gains seen from a generational leap, we believe that Apple is trying hard to narrow down the gap between mobile and laptop chipsets in terms of raw horsepower and efficiency. 

With the A15, Apple has introduced some serious competition among other chipset manufacturers in the industry. It is undoubtedly a very capable chipset and is likely to serve as the foundation for architectural improvements of mobile processors in the near future.

Should You Upgrade Your Existing Device to a New A15-Equipped Smartphone/Tablet?

Well, if you own a smartphone or a tablet quite a few generations old, then an A15-equipped device will surely be a worthy upgrade as it’ll bring major improvements in both performance and efficiency. However, if you already have the previous-gen iPhone or an iPad, there is no point in upgrading to the current generation. 

As mentioned earlier, there is a noticeable performance difference between the A15 and the A14 chipsets but it won’t change much in terms of your overall experience. You’ll be better off waiting over the course of a few generational increments while still enjoying the flagship-level performance that the A14 has to offer.

Hope you found this article useful. For more such comparative analyses on your favorite smartphone chipsets, leave a comment down below. 

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