AnandTech is out today with its review of the iPhone XS and XS Max. Included in the extremely thorough look at the new devices are new details about how powerful the new A12 Bionic chip really is.

In Andrei Frumusanu’s deep dive review for AnandTech, he takes a highly detailed look at the A12’s performance in the iPhone XS/XS Max. One of the more interesting discoveries is that he believes Apple is actually under promising on how much faster it is than the A11, pegging it closer to 40% faster compared to Apple’s claim of 15%.

He also mentions that the A12 is close to the performance of “the best desktop CPUs” which gives more credence to the rumors of Apple switch to using its own chips in Macs as soon as 2020.

Apple’s marketing department was really underselling the improvements here by just quoting 15% – a lot of workloads will be seeing performance improvements I estimate to be around 40%, with even greater improvements in some corner-cases. Apple’s CPU have gotten so performant now, that we’re just margins off the best desktop CPUs; it will be interesting to see how the coming years evolve, and what this means for Apple’s non-mobile products.

When it comes to the new GPU, Frumusanu says it stacks up to Apple’s claims, but might do better to enable greater use of throttling.

On the GPU side, Apple’s measured performance gains are also within the promised figures, and even above that when it comes to sustained performance. The new GPU looks like an iteration on last year’s design, but an added fourth core as well as the important introduction of GPU memory compression are able to increase the performance to new levels. The negative thing here is I do think Apple’s throttling mechanism needs to be revised – and by that I mean not that it shouldn’t throttle less, but that it might be better if it throttled more or even outright capped the upper end of the performance curve, as it’s extremely power hungry and does heat up the phone a lot in the initial minutes of a gaming session.

The review also dives into camera and battery performance of the iPhone XS.

On the camera side, Apple made some very solid improvement all-around. The new sensor’s increased pixel size allows for 50% more light sensitivity, but the improved DTI of the sensor also allows for significantly finer details in bright conditions, essentially increasing the effective spatial resolution of the camera. SmartHDR works as promised, and it’s able to produce images with improved dynamic range.

Be sure to check out the full review (make sure to look for the drop-down list at the top and bottom of the post to see all the sections).


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Michael Potuck

Michael is an editor for 9to5Mac. Since joining in 2016 he has written more than 3,000 articles including breaking news, reviews, and detailed comparisons and tutorials.