Apple A17 Pro phones, gaming performance, benchmarks, and new features

Apple has been issuing its iPhones with upgraded processors with every new iPhone edition and the 2023 iPhone 15 series also comes with a fresh Apple A17 chipset update. The 3nm A17 Pro. as Apple now calls it, brings faster performance and lower power consumption, as well as a plethora of new features only to the iPhone 15 Pro line, so let's review Apple's A17 processor generation.

Apple A17 specs: first 3nm iPhone

The Apple A17 introduced the crazy new 3nm processor node for the first time, and one developed specifically for Apple to boot. The chip foundries aren't done taping out the 2nm process just yet, so 3nm will be as cutting edge as it gets in the next couple of years. 

It's been getting more challenging to shrink the processor die with each new generation of chipsets, and the nodes are staying for a longer time on the market before the introduction of something brand new. The Apple A14 in the iPhone 12, the A15 in the iPhone 13, and the one in the iPhone 14 series are all 5nm chipsets, for instance.

This trend, however, means that the current 4nm/5nm chipsets are being perfected, their initial kinks ironed out, and their second or third iterations are more stable and power-sipping than before. For example, the A14 is built on the first-gen N5 5nm process of the TSMC foundry, and carriers 11.8 million transistors. The A15 is on the second-gen N5P process and has 15 million, while the A16 in the iPhone 14 Pro line is built on the latest transitional 4nm/5nm N4P process with slightly higher number of transistors but much lower power consumption. 

The Apple A17 specs aren't an exception and, since it is done on the brand new 3nm N3P node developed by TSMC specifically for Apple, it offers both better performance with higher clock counts and more transistors - 19 billion, to be precise - as well as more frugal power draw.

Apple A17 benchmark performance and gaming

  • Up to 15% higher benchmarks
  • Better performance per clock count
  • Up to 35% lower power draw
  • Faster graphics subsystem
  • New Qualcomm X70-based modem with 10Gbps speeds

Given that the Apple A17 processor uses TSMC's N3P process, this ‌3nm‌ node can be 15% faster and needs 35% less power than the A16, at least in theory. As for added features, besides the calculation, AI, and graphics rendering boost, Apple has added specialized AR/VR rendering options to account for the launch of the Vision Pro headset. Gaming with the new A17 GPU has been greatly upgraded, too, with games like the Assassin's Creed franchise having their capable mobile edition for the first time.

The Apple A17 chipset comes with much better connectivity options, chief among which is the Snapdragon X70 5G modem that is now in the Galaxy S23 series as Apple just signed another 3-year contract with Qualcomm for 5G modem supply. 

Apple has issues with its own 5G modem development, so it is going with Qualcomm again and that is not a bad thing as the X70 has shown to be the best when it comes to 5G network hookups on all carriers. Needless to say, the Apple A17's 5G modem is likely be a special custom order with each and every 5G band under the sun, as Apple usually does.

In short, the new Apple A17 Pro comes with USB 3 file transfer speeds, GPU with ray tracing, 10% faster CPU cores, and machine-learning-assisted upscaling for high res gaming. What is cool is that the chip has actually convinced some game developers to actually bring their console-grade games to the iPhone 15 Pro. We are talking about heavy-hitting titles like Resident Evil: Village and even the hotly-anticipated Assassin's Creed: Mirage!

Performance Benchmarks

Geekbench 6
SingleHigher is better
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max2958
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max2423
Geekbench 6
MultiHigher is better
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max7288
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max6306
3DMark Extreme(High)Higher is better
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max4236
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max3382
Extreme(Low)Higher is better
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max2632
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max2327

Phones with Apple A17 processor

  • Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max
  • Apple iPhone 15 Pro

Just like with the iPhone 14 series, those Apple A17 gains are now reserved only for the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, rather than the lowly iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus. They, in turn, received last year's Apple A16 for a nice performance boost.

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For next year, however, Apple may go with the cheaper and more production-efficient N3E 3nm process for the iPhone 16 and 16 Plus, instead of giving them the A17 of the iPhone 15 Pro line, as the N3P method is more expensive and offers lower yields per wafer. In any case, the Apple A17 chip is futureproofing the iPhone 15 Pro line for at least a few years down the road.

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