The iPhone 11 line-up was just released in September, but the rumor mill and even Apple are already looking forward to next year’s models. In fact, it sounds like the tech giant’s chip supplier is already planning to start manufacturing the A14 chips for the iPhone 12 (or whatever the 2020 models will be called) in the first half of this year.
A14 chips to enter production in Q2
Citing the Chinese-language Commercial Times, Digitimes reports that TSMC will again be the sole manufacturer for the A14 chips for this year’s iPhone line-up. The A14 chips will reportedly be made using a 5-nanometer EUV process, and volume production is said to be planned for the second quarter.
Sources at fab toolmakers told the Commercial Times that around two-thirds of TSMC’s 5-nanometer fabrication capacity will be tapped for the A14 chips for the iPhone 12 line-up. The chipmaker has reportedly already shifted its 5-nanometer process into risk production. TSMC’s other early customer for its 5-nanometer chips is said to be HiSilicon.
9to5Mac notes that the A12 and A13 chips are made using a 7-nanometer fabrication process, which means the A14 chips will receive a boost in performance due to the new process. When the iPhone XS was released with the A12 chip, Apple emphasized the fact that it was offering the first phone with a chip built on a 7-nanometer process.
First smartphones with 5-nanometer chips
Since as much as two-thirds of TSMC’s capacity for 5-nanometer chips is expected to be taken up by Apple, it seems likely that the iPhone 12 line-up will be the first smartphones to feature 5-nanometer chips. TSMC is currently leading the way in the 5-nanometer fabrication process.
9to5Mac also explains what a 5-nanometer process is an improvement over the 7-nanometer process. In this case, smaller numbers are better than larger numbers. A smaller number of nanometers means the A14 chips will be faster and more power-efficient than the A12 and A13 chips.
This isn’t the first time we are hearing that Apple will switch to a 5-nanometer process for the chips in the 2020 iPhone models. Digitimes reported nearly a year ago that the A14 chips for this year’s models would be built on a 5-nanometer process.
What to expect in the iPhone 12
Rumors about the iPhone 12 have picked up dramatically since the iPhone 11 line-up was released. This year’s iPhone models are expected to feature significant improvements over last year’s models. The handset is widely expected to take on an iPhone 4-like appearance with flatter edges and corners.
We’ve also been hearing that Apple could release more new iPhones next year than it has in any other year so far. However, rumors about the number of new handsets differ. Supposedly, the company will release a new iPhone SE 2 or iPhone 9 early next year, followed by up to six iPhone 12 models in the fall.