Speedy A7 Chip in iPhone 5s Beats the Competition, Including New Samsung Galaxy S5

An interesting review of the new Samsung Galaxy S5 in the New York Times says that while Samsung's new phone is "nice," it's still bested by the "aging" iPhone 5s. The article says a major advantage of the Samsung phone is its larger size, but that advantage will disappear with the expected arrival of a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 in September. In comparison with the iPhone, the plastic of the Galaxy S5 feels cheap, and the interface is overly complex. Plus, even though the Galaxy S5 uses the latest quad-core Shapdragon 801 processor, the article notes that the iPhone 5s beats it on most of the performance tests conducted by AnandTech. In fact, the iPhone 5s comes out on top in a majority of the measures. And this is an "aging" phone. In a few months we'll have a new iPhone 6 with a new A8 chip that will be even faster, with its rumored quad-core processor and quad-core graphics. Apple just keeps racing ahead of the competition.

So how is it that Apple's dual-core A7 processor has a speedier performance than a phone with the latest Snapdragon processor with more cores and a higher clock speed? A great article on Macworld gives all the reasons why. It explains that Apple's A7 chip is able to run more calculations simultaneously, making it more efficient. (And because it runs at a slower clock speed than a chip such as the Snapdragon 801, it needs less battery power, which in turn allows the iPhone 5s to be thinner.)

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It also uses more cached memory than other smartphones. Cached memory stores frequently used data and speeds up operation. And it has a separate image processor, which frees up some of the workload of the main processor. Plus, there's the M7 coprocessor that receives and stores the data from the device's sensors, again offloading some of the work of the A7 chip. 

The Macworld article says that the A7 chip has the robustness of a desktop computer, nearly on par with the Intel chips used in Macs. 

The article then considers why Apple used such a powerful chip in iOS devices, which don't, in fact, take full advantage of its power. Macworld's answer: Apple is "future-proofing" its devices, ensuring that they have the oomph to best the competition in years to come.

It amazes me that the A7 chip so completely outclasses the competition — and that it will be replaced by an even more powerful A8 processor this fall.

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Jim Karpen's picture

Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.