Rumour: iPhone 5 to get A5 chip

In a snippet of news that will come as a surprise to no one familiar with Apple's engineering habits, developer Filippo Bigarella has unearthed evidence that the next iPhone will feature the same A5 chipset as the iPad 2.

According to 9to5Mac and iClarified, Mr Bigarella took a dig through the code of the recently-released iOS 4.3 and discovered the dual-core A5 processor at the heart of the iPad 2 goes by the part number S5L8940. For those playing at home, the part number for the A4 processor found in the iPad and iPhone 4 is S5L8930.

A little more digging turned up a reference to the very same part in a kernel file for a device codenamed N94AP, apparently assumed to be the ''iPhone 5''. iOS 4.3 code also confirmed what we already knew about the iPad 2 - there will be three versions; GSM, CDMA and WiFi-only.

The appearance of the A5 chip in the next-generation iPhone is largely considered a given; the A5's predecessor, the A4, appeared in the first iPad before making its way into the iPhone 4 and there are few, if any reasons why Apple would not follow the same path this year.

Image Credit: Filippo Bigarella

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24 Comments

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codegamerx said,
How does the A5 compare to a Motorola Atrix or Optimus 2X Tegra 2?

As far as raw processing power goes the two chips are literally identical, they both employ the same ARM Cortex A9 dual core chip at a 1GHz per core clock speed. On difference that will give the tegra a slight advantage here is that it has nearly double the L2 cache.

As far as memory which will also impact performance, both employ DDR2 ram, the iPad is rumoured to use 1066 ram (though this is highly debated and still completely unconfirmed) while the tegra uses 667. Don't thing that means twice the performance though, as the iPad is also rumoured to only use 512MB of ram, while many tegra 2 devices already use 1GB.

The graphics again are mainly speculation as benchmarking the two chips is nearly useless given the huge differences in software. Though the tegra 2 was designed by nVidia to support 1080p video playback natively, and does support OpenGL and has 8 cores. The PowerVR chip in the iPad to could be one of a few configurations, ranging from worse to better than the video chip on the tegra, but the real world difference will be marginal.

tom5 said,
I'm wondering when they'll start thinking about seriously improving battery life.

This goes for all phones really.

Ive got an iPhone 4 and HTC Desire and the Desire's battery life is horrendous compared to the iPhone!

As far as smartphones go, the iPhone holds up quite well.

It might be faster if when not playing games it uses same or slightly less power than a4. I know such strategy works on intel cpu's..not sure about A ones.

Hopefully for once, Apple will do a considerable upgrade this time. My parents' iPhone contract runs out in November, so they'll be upgrading to the iPhone 5, and I'll inherit their 3GS.

Go on, Apple, I'm not asking for much on this upgrade; just a better camera lens (more important than increasing the megapixels; 5MP is enough, anyway), a Xenon flash, and improved battery life.

MightyJordan said,
Hopefully for once, Apple will do a considerable upgrade this time. My parents' iPhone contract runs out in November, so they'll be upgrading to the iPhone 5, and I'll inherit their 3GS.

Go on, Apple, I'm not asking for much on this upgrade; just a better camera lens (more important than increasing the megapixels; 5MP is enough, anyway), a Xenon flash, and improved battery life.

As good as the rear camera is on the iPhone 4 (from what I've read and/or heard), I would not expect a change here. But, I would also welcome a tweak to the camera that improves quality even more, something will real tangible results instead of megapixels, etc. 5MP is enough for the average person. And if the informed opinion is that the flash could be better, then I welcome improvement there as well along with improved battery life.

All of that said, it seems like in some ways Apple does just enough to make people happy and sell units. Therefore, the only thing one might see is the improved battery life. Apple might not make real improvements to the other items unless the costs & needs are deemed necessary.

I hope to be pleasantly surprised. I for one welcome a slightly large screen. Apple could increase the screen width a tad bit and increase the screen length a reasonable amount and still fit the screen into the current iPhone "frame". That said, maybe having the screen that close to the sides would lead to problems.

DiamondFootprint said,
I would say that it is a given that the iPhone 5 is gonna have the A5.

What I'm interested to see is what else they have added to it.


My guess, they'll bump up the camera to 8MP.

UndergroundWire said,

My guess, they'll bump up the camera to 8MP.

My guess is they wont. The silliest thing they can do is add sensor with more MP. It wont do anything to the quality of the photo but make the pictures larger in size, which will require more RAM.
I would rather them increase the screen size by a bit and make it more power efficient.

Euphoria said,

My guess is they wont. The silliest thing they can do is add sensor with more MP. It wont do anything to the quality of the photo but make the pictures larger in size, which will require more RAM.
I would rather them increase the screen size by a bit and make it more power efficient.

Agreed. 5MP pics are a pain to MMS compared to the old low-res ones my 3G would take simply because of file size. What I care about is the sensor quality, which is already superb.

I suppose it only makes sense but I'm sure it'll be clocked lower than the one in the iPad 2.

On that matter, does the A5 chip drive the graphics in the iPad 2 or is it separate?

_DP said,
I suppose it only makes sense but I'm sure it'll be clocked lower than the one in the iPad 2.

On that matter, does the A5 chip drive the graphics in the iPad 2 or is it separate?

Most likely higher than the iPad 2. iPhone is their flagship iOS device and they want it to be the star.

superstrikertwo said,

Most likely higher than the iPad 2. iPhone is their flagship iOS device and they want it to be the star.

Why would it be clocked higher?
iPhone = smaller battery, save power nec.
iPad = larger screen, huge battery, faster power consumption

ZenVenT said,

Why would it be clocked higher?
iPhone = smaller battery, save power nec.
iPad = larger screen, huge battery, faster power consumption

I dont think the current A4 chip is clocked lower in the iphone4 that the iPad, so I dont see it being any different.

barteh said,

I dont think the current A4 chip is clocked lower in the iphone4 that the iPad, so I dont see it being any different.

A4 is a single core processor and much more power friendly. A5 is a whopping chip for a phone like iPhone, its screen is tiny. the amount of rendering space on an ipad is huge in comparison. making them the same would be crazy. also to be wary is heat.

iPad has a greater heat dissapation surface for better cooling. iPhone is very tightly packed as well so expect overheating with a highly clocked dual core processor

Auzeras said,

A4 is a single core processor and much more power friendly. A5 is a whopping chip for a phone like iPhone, its screen is tiny. the amount of rendering space on an ipad is huge in comparison. making them the same would be crazy. also to be wary is heat.

iPad has a greater heat dissapation surface for better cooling. iPhone is very tightly packed as well so expect overheating with a highly clocked dual core processor

All they have o do is change the case materials.