At the launch of the iPhone 13, Apple declined to make a direct comparison between the device's performance and that of the iPhone released the previous year, as it usually does. Instead, Apple focused on the competition, saying the new A15 Bionic chip was 50% faster than rivals' processors, an assertion that has now been put to the test by AnandTech in an exhaustive and detailed review.
Astonishingly, the numbers suggest that Apple was if anything underplaying the dominance of its latest chip.
The main competitor to the A15 Bionic is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888. Based on AnandTech's measurements, the former actually offers 62% faster performance than the latter.
There are some possible explanations for the A15 chip's dominance. One is that since the launch of last year's A14 the amount of system cache has been doubled to 32MB. In addition, the amount of L2 cache has been increased from 8MB to 12MB, which is the same amount used in the M1 chip found in current Mac computers.
Of course, it's questionable whether such extreme performance is really useful in a mobile phone at this point - the iPhone 12 is perfectly capable of running anything on the App Store without the slightest difficulty - but it does offer a great deal of future-proofing. It will also give app developers a green light to make their wares more ambitious, secure in the knowledge that the hardware is growing ever more capable.
The other fascinating thing about the A15 is that Apple doesn't seem to have prioritised performance - certainly not at the expense of energy-efficiency, which is also much better than previous and competitor chips. AnandTech observes that efficiency gains "are likely key to the new vastly longer battery longevity of the iPhone 13 series phones", and to have balanced upgrades in both performance and efficiency in the same release is an impressive feat.