The iPhone 7 is in the wild, and benchmark results are rolling in. So exactly how much better is Apple’s new A10 Fusion chip, and why?
At the September 7 keynote, Apple made much of its brand new A10 Fusion chip. It’s the processor that powers the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, and is 120 times as fast as the original iPhone, apparently. That sounds seriously impressive, so you're probably wondering how Apple managed to stuff so much computing heft into its new smartphones. More importantly, do Apple's claims stand up against what the benchmarks are telling us?
Here's a quick guide to all things A10 Fusion.
Related: IPhone 7 problems
What is the A10 Fusion?
The A10 Fusion is a system-on-a-chip (SoC), which basically means that a bunch of important components are bundled onto a single chip. In the A10’s case, you get a CPU, a GPU, RAM, data caches, an image processor, an M10 motion coprocessor, and a controller.
The A10 is Apple’s first quad-core SoC, which offers a leap over the dual-core A9 chip that featured in last year’s iPhone 6S.
What’s special about the A10 Fusion is that not all of the processor cores are the same. Two of them are high-performance cores, which handle demanding tasks like gaming. But the other two are low-power cores that tackle normal, everyday tasks, and are one-fifth as power-hungry as the high-performance cores. Apple built a brand new performance controller that decides which cores to use in a given situation.
If that tactic sounds familiar, you’re not going crazy. It’s very similar to the big.LITTLE technology designed by ARM, which appears in most Android flagship phones. That’s because Qualcomm’s hugely popular Snapdragon 820 chip is built on big.LITTLE architecture. Like Apple’s A10 Fusion, the Snapdragon 820 is a quad-core chip that gives menial jobs to low-power cores, and demanding tasks to high-power cores. Apple is really just playing catch-up here – but we’re glad all the same.
Related: iPhone 8
How much faster is it?
With all the aforementioned improvements, it’s no surprise that the A10 Fusion chip is faster. In fact, Apple says it’s 40% quicker than the A9 chip (iPhone 6S), twice as fast as the A8 chip (iPhone 6), and 120 times faster than the original iPhone.
But the new GPU also brings improvements. The A10’s graphical performance is 50% better than the A9 and three times as fast as the A8, according to Apple. That’s thanks to a new six-core GPU that uses two-thirds of the A9’s power, and just half of the A8’s power. Apple says the GPU is 240 times faster than the one in the original iPhone.
Of course, Apple’s own performance pledges are always going to be flattering, so how does the iPhone 7 perform in real-world benchmark tests?
iPhone 7 benchmarks
We haven’t been able to run our own benchmarks on the iPhone 7 just yet. But tests results are turning up from around the world, so we’ve already got a good idea of just how well the iPhone 7 performs.
On AnTuTu, the iPhone 7 scored a mega 178,397, which just about puts every other phone to shame. It’s far higher than the 133,781 scored by the iPhone 6S (33% improvement), and also trumps the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (134,599), the OnePlus 3 (140,388), and the HTC 10 (133,217).
On the new Geekbench 4.0 test, the iPhone 7 managed a single-core score of 3,425 and a multi-core score of 5,510. By comparison, the iPhone 6S scored 2,443 for single-core and 4,037 for multi-core. That means the iPhone 7 is 40% faster on the single-core test, and 36% faster on the multi-core test.
All in all, it’s clear that Apple has made significant performance and efficiency improvements with the iPhone 7. That should translate to a snappier user experience, better battery life, and hopefully improved gaming credentials.
Related: Samsung Galaxy S8
Watch: iPhone 7 vs Galaxy S7
What do you think of the iPhone 7? Let us know in the comments.