AnandTech reviews the iPhone 5: A6’s Swift processor clocked at 1.3GHz, taken through paces

AnandTech reviews the iPhone 5: A6’s Swift processor clocked at 1.3GHz, taken through paces
The Apple iPhone 5 has been out for almost a month now, and while that might seem like a lot of time, it has been barely enough for tech gurus from AnandTech to take the device through its paces. And testing they did.

Why is this important? AnandTech gives the single most technical review of the iPhone 5, so for those who really want to understand what hardware Apple uses and why despite playing down specs, the company is actually running ahead in the silicon race. At the same time, Apple releases very little technical details about its custom-made chips like the A6 in the iPhone 5, and that’s why you need to do some state-of-the-art testing to get basic specs like the clock speed of the processor.

The first big conclusion that Anand and crew draw about the iPhone 5 is that Apple is actually delivering more than the double processor performance it announced at the unveiling. The iPhone 5 is powered by an A6 chip and on the die is a processor clocked at the unprecedented for Apple 1.3GHz. The processor itself is called Swift, and it is a custom Apple solution built on top of the architecture license from ARM. Anand expects this to signal a huge increase in the next iPad’s processor, possibly with Apple bumping it up to 1.5GHz.

Sadly, there are little good benchmarking apps for iOS (and cross-platform for that matter) to fully show the differences, but from the few Javascript tests available, it is clear that the iPhone 5 processor is cream of the crop, second only to Intel’s Atom Z2460 chip found on devices like the Motorola RAZR i. Apple has shrunken the size of the A6 chip itself, but it’s still not a small one.

You might remember that the iPad starting with the late second-gen tablet had the huge A5X chip, measuring a whopping 163mm2. This meant a lot of space for graphics, but while the new A6 measures a comparatively low 97mm2, it still has three cores, and runs all three cores at 33% faster speeds than on the A5. All are still PowerVR 543 cores, and this makes the whole setup deliver performance comparable to that of the third iPad. The difference? It’s in a phone.

Bottomline is that when someone tells you that Apple doesn’t care about specs and hardware, they’d be plain wrong. The company in Cupertino is on an aggressive one year cadence which it has followed rigorously with the sole exception of the iPhone 4S. While rivals like Samsung also have started releasing one flagship per year, Apple has the advantage of a fall launch, just in time for the Holiday season when sales flourish. There is a lot more to learn in the review below, so just head on there for all the interesting details.

source: AnandTech

Related phones

iPhone 5
  • Display 4.0" 640 x 1136 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.2 MP front
  • Processor Apple A6, Dual-core, 1300 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 1440 mAh(8h 3G talk time)

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30 Comments

1. wendygarett unregistered

It's worth to buy :)

7. TROLL

Posts: 4851; Member since: Apr 13, 2012

I feel like owning buying one... Apple why didn't they clock it at 1.6 and use 4gpu? And overclocked Gpu to 527mhz, This phone would be ultimate..,

10. wendygarett unregistered

Lol because it is an Apple silly :D It would be much better if you stick back to android :)

12. TylerGrunter

Posts: 1544; Member since: Feb 16, 2012

Because it would increase a lot power comsumption and the iphone has only a 1450mah battery, and increasing the battery capacity that would have meant to increase the size and weight of the phone.

21. Jericho unregistered

No matter what processor they are using like every phone, The Mapple myphone 5 will be smoked by The Windows Phone.

2. sheik

Posts: 249; Member since: Sep 12, 2012

Would have been cool if they were Krait cores....

14. buccob

Posts: 2973; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

I agree... I want to see a comparison with the PadFone 2 and the new LG

17. Victor.H

Posts: 1076; Member since: May 27, 2011

What would have been cool about it when Swift is clearly shown to beat Krait phones in the benchmarks?

20. sheik

Posts: 249; Member since: Sep 12, 2012

I am no tech nerd... but iPhone 5 does not exactly beat Kraits, in Gsmarena, Xperia T scores better than i5 in Geekbench, and GLBenchmarks(Egypt)....

26. TylerGrunter

Posts: 1544; Member since: Feb 16, 2012

I have to defend Victor here. I am a tech nerd and can tell you two things: Krait and Swift (iphone cores) manage to get similar values in Geekbench 2 only cause krait cores are clocked at 1.5 MHz while Swift are clocked at 1.3 MHz. That means that the Swift will be more battery savvy than then krait (As Anand points out) Most of the tests show that the Swift is around 10% more powerful than the Krait, not much, but not bad. For GLBenchmarks: Xperia T is the GLBenchmark 2.1 while the iPhone 5 is the GLBenchmarks 2.5. the second one is around 3 times more stressfull in the GPU. Conclusion: the chip in the iphone is around the same as a dual krait PRO at 1.5 GHz with Adreno 320, MSM8960T (Xperia T has the Krait with Adreno 225, MSM8260A), but a bit more battery friendly.

25. XPERIA-KNIGHT unregistered

which "krait" are we talking about? dual or quad pro?

27. TylerGrunter

Posts: 1544; Member since: Feb 16, 2012

Krait refers to the CPU so it doesn´t really matter if you are talking about the power of individual cores, as both have the same CPUs (that´s what Victor is probably referring to). The iphone is only match to he dual kraits, it has more or less the same power. The quad-core kraits should be around 60% more powerful than the A6 in CPU and more or less equal in GPU.

3. BadAssAbe

Posts: 508; Member since: Apr 22, 2011

The Iphones are good phones but i hate apple with a passion because they are way overpriced and i feel they take advantage of people who they marketed to. phone simple and works, so lets overcharged

4. PackMan

Posts: 277; Member since: Mar 09, 2012

Android phones are already moving towards s4 pro with adreno 320 which gives A6 run for its money both in cpu and gpu department. And newer generation exynos, tegra and Omap are yet to arrive.

8. TROLL

Posts: 4851; Member since: Apr 13, 2012

Even those would fail to Exynos. The S4pro. S4PRIME. S4+, if the A6 was clocked at 1.7ghz with Pvr543mp4 Adreno don't stand a chance.

9. TimTebow

Posts: 70; Member since: Feb 14, 2012

Anandtech is in bed with Apple.

28. wumberpeb

Posts: 453; Member since: Mar 14, 2011

Tim Tebow is in bed with... ...no one

13. nofear

Posts: 151; Member since: Jun 22, 2012

A6 is dual core processor, Apple did not give more than 2 core. TimTebow, you are right! on this one, Anandtech got Tim cook's a$$.

16. PackMan

Posts: 277; Member since: Mar 09, 2012

Also, the android benchmarks scores are lower than they should be. Anandtech has apple fetis. Just look how long their idevices reviews are.

18. darac

Posts: 2156; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

What the hell is with that ridiculous notion about the Intel chip?!? That said, yes the A6 is, overall, the best phone chip on the market right now.. but S4 pro is just about to roll out, and it is already a superior solution. And by the time A7 gets reviewed, this apple chip will see many other soc's taking over the charts. So objectively, it's nothing to write home about. BTW, in Geekbench - the only true cross platform benchmark - A6 is significantly outperformed by the quad core Exynos 4 (Galaxy S 3 and Note 2)

19. PackMan

Posts: 277; Member since: Mar 09, 2012

"That said, yes the A6 is, overall, the best phone chip on the market right now." - On what basis can you say that ? Exynos in s3 and snapdragon s4 outperform A6 in many benchmarks and that too is highly software dependent. Only in GPU does A6 beat others.

22. darac

Posts: 2156; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

Overall, meaning CPU+GPU performance, power efficiency and connectivity. Compared to dual core Krait, seems like Swift takes a victory on all three fronts. Compared to quad core Exynos, it gets partially beaten only in CPU department. Anyways I've just read the whole review and thoroughly enjoyed it. Glad to see that the author basically made the same point that I have: " At a high level, it would appear that ARM's Cortex A15 is still a bigger machine than Swift. Swift instead feels like Apple's answer to Krait. The release cadence Apple is on right now almost guarantees that it will be a CPU generation behind in the first half of next year if everyone moves to Cortex A15 based designs."

23. PackMan

Posts: 277; Member since: Mar 09, 2012

Fair enough. But I am not sure about the power efficiency and connectivity part. Hard to measure.

30. darac

Posts: 2156; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

Yeah, that's a point alright. Actually I think I need to correct myself.. overall (since geekbench is the best overall cross -platform measure we have ) the Exynos 4412 still seems like a more capable computing machine. Swift holds up hugely thanks to the GPU. Swift has dual core Krait edged out slightly in CPU and convincingly overall, thanks to much more powerful GPU and Java script optimizations.

24. TheDarkKnight

Posts: 88; Member since: Oct 12, 2012

So android fans, it looks like we are using superior, smart and more power efficient technology in the palm of our hands.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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