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Apple A15 Bionic Powers iPhone 13 and iPad Mini

Apple A15 diagram
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple announced a slew of new devices during a streaming event today, updating them with new silicon and a slew of features.

The new A15 Bionic processor will power many of Apple's latest devices. It uses 5nm tech and has 15 billion transistors, with a 6-core CPU that includes two high-performance and four efficiency cores. There's also a 4-core GPU, bumped up to 5-cores on the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max. Apple VP Hope Giles said it was "up to 50% faster than the competition." The A15 also has a neural engine can perform 15.8 trillion operations per second.

Appie A15 diagram

(Image credit: Apple)

The Bionic also powers a new camera system, including a new 12MP ultrawide camera and a shifting sensor from the previous generation Pro Max line. There's also a new cinematic mode for dramatic shifts in perspective.

Using the new chip, Apple introduced the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini, with a 20% smaller notch and flat, aluminum edges and larger batteries. Apple claims the display has a peak brightness of 1,200 nits.

The company promises better battery life, more than 1.5 hours longer for the iPhone 13 mini over the iPhone 12 mini, and 2.5 hours longer for the iPhone 13 over the iPhone 12. This comes in part from a more efficient CPU.

iPhone 13 Mini will start at $699, and the iPhone 13 will start at $799. The starting capacity is also being upgraded to 128GB, with addition 256GB and 512GB options. There is no more 64GB version — it's about time. 

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iPhone 13

(Image credit: Apple)
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iPhone 13

(Image credit: Apple)
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iPhone 13

(Image credit: Apple)

There's also a Pro line up, comprised of the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. These phones will of course use the new A15 Bionic. Like the iPhone 13, both have a 20% smaller front-camera system. Apple says the internals were redesigned to fit the new processor, battery and camera system. The Pro models will get a 5-core GPU, more powerful than the non-Pro model, which Apple says is the faster graphics in a phone ever.

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iPhone 13 Pro

(Image credit: Apple)
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iPhone 13 Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple is using a 120 Hz "ProMotion" OLED display on the iPhone, which will improve the experience of gaming and creative applications. Apple says the mix of the A15 Bionic, ProMotion and 5G makes the iPhone 13 Pro lineup the best choice for mobile gaming.

The new Pro cameras include 3x optical zoom on the telephoto lens, as well as an ultra-wide mode with a wider aperture and macro photography. It also has a 12mP main camera. Apple has a new feature called "Photographic Styles" to make changes with filters as you shoot while maintaining a person's skin tone. On the video side, the A15 Bionic also allows you to film in 4K at 30 frames per second in Apple's new ProRes mode.

Apple says the iPhone 13 Pro Max will last 2.5 hours longer than the 12 Pro Max, making it the longest battery life in an iPhone. The 13 Pro will last 1.5 hours longer than the 12 Pro.

The iPhone 13 Pro will start at $999, with the 13 Pro Max starting at $1,099. Storage will range from 128GB up to a new 1TB option on the Pro models.

A15

(Image credit: Apple)

The iPad Mini is back, starting at $499, with a full redesign that looks more like the iPad Pro with narrow borders. It's powered by the new A15 Bionic chip as well. It will come in purple, pink, a champagne-color "starlight" and Space gray.

The iPad Mini with have an 8.3-inch display with 500 nits of brightness. TouchID will be in the power button, just like the iPad Air. On the iPad Mini, which hasn't seen an upgrade in a bit, the new processor will give it a 40% CPU boost and 80% GPU boost over last generation. Of course, that happens when you haven't upgraded in a few years.

The iPad Mini is switching to USB Type-C, a huge move that was also on the iPad Air. Also in connectivity, the iPad Mini will support 5G. iPad Mini will also have an ultra-wide front camera with Center Stage, as well as a new speaker system and a 12MP camera. It will also be the first iPad mini to support Apple Pencil.

There's also a new base iPad, powered by Apple's two-years-old A13 Bionic chip. Apple is touting that the chip has a 20% faster CPU, GPU and neural engine over the A12. The company claims this makes the new iPad three times faster than the top-selling Chromebook and six times faster than the average Android tablet. It has a 10.2-inch display in a similar design to the existing iPad.

The A13 will work with new features like iPadOS 15's live text, and will also boast a new image signal processor for better autofocus in low light and a better 12MP front camera with a 122-degree field of view.

The new IPad will start at $329 for 64GB of storage. It will be available next week.

iPad

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple also used the event to launch the Apple Watch Series 7, with just 1.7 millimeters bezels, which is 40 percent thinner than the Series 6.

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Andrew E. Freedman

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming as well as keeping up with the latest news. He holds a M.S. in Journalism (Digital Media) from Columbia University. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Kotaku, PCMag, Complex, Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag among others.

  • Dave Haynie
    Can you guys in the press get a little education and JUST STOP IT. There is no optical zoom on the iPhone 13 or any other smartphone. You have several fixed focal length cameras, and you have some software that can SOFTWARE ZOOM between camera. And sometimes software zoom (aka, digital zoom) from just one camera.. like they did 15 years ago.

    Seriously guys, stop lying to the public just because all of the other tech press doesn't understand the technology.
    Reply
  • deesider
    Dave Haynie said:
    Can you guys in the press get a little education and JUST STOP IT. There is no optical zoom on the iPhone 13 or any other smartphone. You have several fixed focal length cameras, and you have some software that can SOFTWARE ZOOM between camera. And sometimes software zoom (aka, digital zoom) from just one camera.. like they did 15 years ago.

    Seriously guys, stop lying to the public just because all of the other tech press doesn't understand the technology.
    Hey relax buddy - it's just terminology that is a little clumsy when applied to smartphones rather than conventional cameras. The telephoto lens has a focal length 3x larger than the standard lens - which is an optical 'zoom'. Sure it isn't really a 'zoom' lens since the focal length isn't adjustable, but it is achieved optically.

    People calling a telephoto lens a zoom lens is just a different use of terminology that you may not like, but it's not going to change.
    Reply
  • g-unit1111
    This is the first time in a long time I've actually been interested in iPhone. Especially with Samsung getting rid of micro SD cards and their file systems limited to 256GB or 512GB, and the newest iPhone sporting a full 1TB, it might finally be time for me to switch when I'm due for an upgrade.
    Reply