iPhone 16 May Add a Cutting-Edge Neural Engine to Run Generative AI

Apple is expected to debut the new generative AI features on the iPhone 16 and that will arrive with iOS 18. However, the software side is just one side of the equation as it would also require greater computing resources to enable much of these features, which Apple is seemingly addressing with its next-gen iPhone chipsets.

How will Apple A18 enable generative AI on iPhones

A new report from Taiwanese outlet Economic Daily News (via MacRumors) indicates that Apple is significantly upgrading the Neural Engine or NPU (neural processing unit) in its upcoming A18 chipset with more computing cores. With a faster Neural Engine, iOS 18 would be able to run more complex tasks and even perform on-device AI computing.

This planned chipset upgrade is not a big surprise given how much most generative AIs are powered by more capable chipsets as in the case of Samsung’s Galaxy S24 and Google’s Pixel 8 (review). For instance, the iPhone 15 Pro (review) notably lacks support for text-to-image generation and wider offline assistant or chatbot uses, which have something Apple’s competitors have already offered.

Apple A17 Pro chipset
Apple’s A17 Pro chipset for the iPhone 15 Pro brings a faster and more powerful CPU and GPU. / © Apple

Apart from the increased NPU core count, it is not detailed how the A18’s Neural Engine unit would differ or how faster it is over the A17 Pro. But for reference, the A17 Pro on the iPhone 15 Pro is already twice faster than its predecessor according to Apple. So it is possible we’re talking of a few folds of improvement on the A18.

Some new AI functionalities may be exclusive to the iPhone 16

Interestingly, it is unclear whether the generative AI features and services will be completely exclusive to the iPhone 16 through the new A18 chip. But according to tipster Tech_Reve, some on-device AI features could end up exclusive to the iPhone 16 while those with generic functions will be available to older iPhone models.

Per rumor, Apple’s A18 chip will be manufacturer in a more efficient fabrication process. It was added that the chip will be differentiated by the standard A18 powering the iPhone 16 while the A18 Pro being reserved for the iPhone 16 Pro.

In addition to the A18, Apple’s M4 chip for future iPad Pro, Macs, and MacBook laptops is set to gain an improved Neural Engine as well, and that could bring comparable new AI features to these form factors.

Do you think generative AI is a promising addition to iPhones? And will it be enough reason for you to upgrade to the iPhone 16? Share with us your thoughts on this.