iPhone 5s Packs ‘Desktop-Class’ Power Into A Mobile Device


Apple today announced two new iPhones, the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c.

The announcements were largely what people expected Apple to introduce – a more powerful top-of-the-line iPhone and a more competitively priced iPhone.

The real news, though – and what makes today’s announcements relevant to musicians – is the state of performance on the iOS platform. The flagship iPhone 5s promises significant performance improvements – 2x the CPU performance of the previous model and an impressive 40x the original iPhone.

Apple characterizes the performance of the iPhone 5s as ‘desktop class’. There’s clearly some hyperbole there – but there’s also some truth to it, too. The new iPhone is built on a 64-bit architecture, even as popular desktop DAWs are being updated to 64-bit designs.

Here’s what Apple has to say about performance on the 5s:

iphone-5sThe all-new A7 chip in iPhone 5s brings 64-bit desktop-class architecture to a smartphone for the first time. With up to twice the CPU and graphics performance, almost everything you do on iPhone 5s is faster and better than ever, from launching apps and editing photos to playing graphic-intensive games—all while delivering great battery life.

Apple also engineered iOS 7 and all the built-in apps to maximize the performance of the A7 chip. iPhone 5s is the best mobile gaming device with access to hundreds of thousands of games from the App Store, the A7 chip’s 64-bit architecture and support for OpenGL ES version 3.0. iPhone 5s delivers incredibly rich and complex visual effects, previously only possible on Macs, PCs and gaming consoles.

While Apple may talk about ‘desktop-class’ performance on its new iPhone, it’s still a mobile device, not a desktop. The challenge to Apple and iOS developers is to demonstrate compelling new applications that both take advantage of the added power and make sense in a mobile context.

35 thoughts on “iPhone 5s Packs ‘Desktop-Class’ Power Into A Mobile Device

  1. Give me the ability to run Midi input to Thor , Nave, iMS20 and Sampletank , effect them all through Turnado and record the whole shebang in Loopy and you will have a SALE from me Apple !!!

    1. if the claims (of 2x performance of an iphone 5) are true, the raw performance would be on a par with a 2.26Ghz core 2 duo. a 4 year old iMac, basically, but with significantly higher graphics power.

      so, no, not a 386 with 512mb of ram.

      1. am not sure how you work that out, the chips are completely different, the cache size for o an imac of that age would completely out strip an I phone of twice the power and beyond.

        in the immortal words of public enemy “don’t believe the hype”

        1. You sound like someone who thinks they know way more about the technology than they do and use some technical words to help reinforace that.

          Cache is not a metric of speed of a CPU. Some apps may be faster on the same chip if you were to add more cache to it. You’d be a fool to compare two completely different architectures and say that one chip would be faster than another for all and any programs based on cache sizes.

      2. — faster is better

        BUT this i more like a
        Intel Core Duo U2500 @ 1.20GHz with VERY good graphics

        – it is a mobile cpu not a desktop cpu – the power savings SPEED steps the cores

        the raw performance would not be on par with a 2.26Ghz core 2 duo. even running maxed

        – you should check geekbench and passmark when the product ships

        1. geekbench for iphone 5 : 1618
          geekbench for imac core 2 duo 2.26Gz (mid 2009) : 3238

          so, like i said, *if* the “2x faster” thing is true….

          i don’t pluck this stuff from the air. i was just pointing out that the 386 comparison was out by a decade and a couple of orders of magnitude.

          1. They’re touting 2X CPU performance, so yeah – it’s got a CPU as powerful as the desktops a lot of people still use. Obviously not as fast as state of the art workstations, but it will be interesting to see what developers do with this power.

          2. those numbers are sort of – virtual -at this point
            IOS and OSX do not handle the same workload
            by those numbers you should be able to run REASON ,LOGIC or FINAL cut PRO

            i want to see REAL 64bit desktop APPS

            the one thing i noticed is how bad apple makes their own products look
            the iphone 4 really looks like crap on this chart

            1. Ha. Very true. I mean, all geometric progressions will look like that if plotted on a linear scale but they have to make me feel like my iPhone 4 is a piece of crap an that I *must* upgrade.

    1. And flash storage is pretty speedy. Combined with the graphics card you have a generally zippier experience.

      the desktop as a whole has kind of leveled off. I mean talking about non audio apps, yeah a 4 year old desktop is mostly more than enough.

      I want to know why RAM increases have slowed down though? We should be at 16 or 32gb as base line, right? Seems like 4gb has been the min for 10 years now.

      1. RAM has mostly been a race for cost or speed the last few years – PC manufacturers mostly use gamers as their model. It’s definitely possible to get insane amounts of RAM, but you’ve got to look more to workstation or server builds rather than the off-the-shelf newegg boxes. 256GB is pretty standard max fit these days for a board like that. I rarely get to use all my 24gigs as it is, though, unless I have to do something eccentric like carve out a RAMdisk for super fast sample storage 😉

  2. Its great, and it makes me really, REALLY want next iPad soon. I even consider changing my current phone, even though its still perfectly good smart phone and I hate such vanity, but as a gaming platform these phones are not even mediocre.

    A $700 devices to play $0,99 mini games, with limited controls. I love touch screen controls and especially aided with gyroscope the controls can be used to create new kinds of gameplay, but having no buttons leaves it crippled game platform. Even the best mobile games are limited not only by the controls but also by price model. I know I have wasted hundreds of bucks on mobile games, but I have close to zero lasting fond memories of them.

    I never buy these games any more as they are so empty, that the only fun they give you is to start them for the first time. When you close them for the first time, its already forgotten, wasted time.

    The mobile gaming is poor substitute and nice byproduct at best, but I am disappointed on how shallow the gaming supply is even in iOS. How the hell has rather more specialized curiosity like music appsbeen able to achieve so impressive level, when the games seem to be stuck into repetitive cash in level, where developers are primarily concentrating on finding acceptable ways to cut corners and make games that initially might look some what ok on screen shots, but when you play them, you cannot even move your self and explore the game world(for Infinity Blades example ).

    1. As for now, really hardcore gamers (playing third person shooters and racing simulators) will have to look elsewhere. I certainly I’m not over the “no mouse and keyboard” support. There’s some excellent iOS games like Baldur’s Gate and X-COM that don’t make me miss the desktop version, but still… they’re no substitute for a COD or BF.

      iOS 7 has an API for third party game controllers. I believe this will change gaming on iDevices.
      In the following months we should start seeing joysticks and game pads appearing and then mouses. These peripherals combined with the extra processing and graphics power will make the upcoming iPad the ultimate portable gaming device.

      What does this have to do with music production? Not much, but it would be great if I could use gaming controllers with synths (for transport and parameter control). I can even see someone using several game pads, putting them all together and making an extremely modular MIDI controller for iOS devices.

      1. I don’t think that carrying a last gen controller with iPad will make things any thing else but take the little mojo it has in its touch screen and motion controls away….unless its some kind of attachment but I wouldn’t hold my breath for any forward thinking solutions.

        But either qay, it won’t change the games. Mobile games are poor because of their price. 3ds and Vita have a ton of really solid, proper and long games from all genres, and unlike the mobile crud, they are worth their price.

        1. That’s quite a generalization. There are games on iOS that cost a couple of bucks, whose counterparts on the 3DS or Vita cost 30.

          The big consoles still have a lot going for them (mostly space. You simply can’t install a game the size of GTA V on an iPad. Even if you had the 128GB iPad (and the next one could absolutely have the oomph to power that game), it wohl be beyond impractical.
          Like everything, this will change over time. It just sucks that it changes so slowly.

          1. Oops, lost my train of thought there.

            I meant to say that the big consoles will still have a lot going for them, but the DS and Vita won’t last long. There’s just less and less of a reason to pay that much money to buy less capable hardware than you have in your pocket anywhere, just so you can spend more on the games.

            1. Generalizations fly in both ways, but the mobile ones are not quite as over emphasized as hand console FUD, that the hegemony likes to spam to defend its investments. 3DS and Vita will last just fine and have successors as always; mobile platform isn’t as big threat to them as the mobile lobbyists try to insist.

              iPhone costs $700 and has both lacking controls and VERY limited game library full of cheap cashins, and things are not going to change as long as games cost a lot of money to make. Its such “gaming platform” that in its previous device unveilings Apple has demonstrated merely ONE game, Infinity Blade Dungeons which was cancelled because it proved to be too expensive for the market, EVEN though it wasn’t any where near AAA game, a kind of poor mans Diablo. I bought the iPhone 4S, because it looked like passable gamice devince, and its only “flag ship game” was cancelled. I was rather disappointed on my gaming investment.

              3DS costs $150 and is a very powerful gaming platform with a lot of other functionality too(and to make this more on topic, even some synths, like Korg M1;) it has very high quality controllers and a game library to drool for and games from every possible category and price range. It has those cheap games…like a Crimson Shroud which is rather nice little RPG for a small price, but it also has had constant stream of REALLY big AAA games like Resident Evil Revelations and Bravely Default etc etc etc. If some games are more expensive in hand console platforms, it isn’t 3DS’s or Vitas fault. Gunman Clive made most money on 3DS and therefor its developer makes its next game specifically for 3DS.

              1. even some synths? dude, ios has hundreds of synths, drum machines, samplers, etc.
                when it comes to music , I think no any other mobile platform can beat ios. I’m not even talking about controllers like lemur app etc etc…
                desktop-class is a bold, unrealistic statement maybe. but still, I’m sure we’ll see better audio applications with this new chip.
                people were making great music with 386 computers. This is much more powerful than a 386, so don’t blame the thing.
                of course there are limitations and inefficiencies. but I believe they’ll get better in time.

                1. I was merely talking about the games, and wanted to point out something, that is not obvious and to make this side track a little more on topic.

                  No mobile device beats iPad or Phone in synths and I want next iPad the most of any material things in the world; its my saviour as no other “synth” will satisfy my numerous and acute needs, and for me it was a disaster that they didn’t announce new iPad as the old ones cost practically as much as new where I live and I couldn’t jump aboard them at this point. I really hope that they would announce it asap.

                  But for games, I could not care less. They were massively disappointing contrast to the hegemony spamming consensus that I once believed. If there was no synths, I would have kicked my own ass because I went to buy a $700 phone instead of something useful!!! Fortunately the synths are so impressive. As a gaming platform these mobile devices are just bad, over hyped and vastly over priced, like many times more expensive than actual game devices(as a bunch of components, some of these mobile devices are some what worth of the money, but as a gaming device they just cannot compete with gaming devices).

                  1. I have to agree!
                    I started doing audio and midi using a Mac 604e….. And my iphone knocks that old box out of the water…. As well, I have found the touch interface on my iphone the most musical input device I have used. When my compositions get too deep…. I bounce , re-import and continue….. Just as I had to in the bad old days… This is a minor inconvenience to me as I can get more done in small fragments of free time allowed to me as a family man..
                    IOS on iphone has enabled me to be more creative and prolific than at any other time.
                    There are some gaps to ios as far as purely mobile workflow is concerned. No real audio tools like audio restoration tools to fix dropouts and pops, and limited support for the iphone as far as mastering tools is concerned.

                    I say all this as someone who works as 3d animator, using very high-end Mac pros, win boxes and sometimes in the good old days sgi workstations.. Ios is a perfectly viable, and often preferable platform for music production.

  3. This is Moore’s law in action – the reason it seems like mobile is getting faster more rapidly now than desktops is that companies are focusing on increasing power efficiency.

  4. The shift to 64 bit processing won’t make a huge difference at this point, but Apple have taken the decision to switch early so that by the time 64 bit mobile processing is needed (won’t be that long I’m sure) they’ll be prepared. It’s a strategy that served them well with OSX, and it’l serve them well again.

    They also needed some new first to market technology to silence their critics – Samsung has been bringing out gadgetry and features with their phones, and Apple has suffered as a result. This won’t quiet the rabid Fandroids or Microsofties, but it might sway some of the more impartial users out there

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