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Apple Explains iPhone 15 Pro Requirement for Apple Intelligence


With iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia, Apple is introducing a new personalized AI experience called Apple Intelligence that uses on-device, generative large-language models to enhance the user experience across iPhone, iPad, and Mac.


These new AI features require Apple’s latest iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models to work, while only Macs and iPads with M1 or later chips will support Apple Intelligence. Since the news came to light, many users have been asking what the reason is for the cut-off.

In The Talk Show Live From WWDC 2024, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber put the question to Apple’s AI/machine learning head John Giannandrea, marketing chief Greg Joswiak, and software engineering chief Craig Federighi, and this was the response.

Giannandrea: “So these models, when you run them at run times, it’s called inference, and the inference of large language models is incredibly computationally expensive. And so it’s a combination of bandwidth in the device, it’s the size of the Apple Neural Engine, it’s the oomph in the device to actually do these models fast enough to be useful. You could, in theory, run these models on a very old device, but it would be so slow that it would not be useful.

Gruber: “So it’s not a scheme to sell new iPhones?”

Joswiak: “No, not at all. Otherwise, we would have been smart enough just to do our most recent iPads and Macs, too, wouldn’t we?”

Apple’s software engineering chief Craig Federighi said that the company’s first move with any new feature is to work out how to bring it back to older devices as far as possible. But when it comes to Apple Intelligence, “This is the hardware that it takes… It’s a pretty extraordinary thing to run models of this power on an iPhone,” he added.

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The iPhone 15 Pro models use the A17 Pro chip, which has a 16-core Neural Engine that’s up to 2x faster than the A16 chip found in the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, performing nearly 35 trillion operations per second. Federighi hinted that RAM is also another aspect of the system that the new AI features require, so it is perhaps no coincidence that all the devices compatible with Apple Intelligence have at least 8GB of RAM.

Despite the cutoff, owners of older iPhones still have plenty to look forward to in Apple’s upcoming software update: iOS 18 boasts several new features besides Apple Intelligence, and every iPhone that can run iOS 17 is compatible iOS 18. That includes the iPhone XR from 2018.

If you still want Apple Intelligence in your pocket but don’t have an iPhone 15 or iPhone 15 Pro, you may want to hold out for the iPhone 16 series, which is expected to launch when iOS 18 is released in the fall.



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