Absolute Power


iPhone 4S Power Efficiency Improvements?

This blog originally posted on the Low Power Engineering Community 10/6/11.


The iPhone 4S was announced today and frankly I was a little disappointed. No new iPhone 5, no 4G support, no bigger display or smaller form factor. But now that the initial disappointment has worn off, let’s take a look at what we DID get—pretty much the rumored iPhone 5 in an iPhone 4 package. There’s a faster processor with the A5, higher-resolution eight-megapixel camera for reasonable stills and 1080p video, a “fat” 64 GB version, wireless mirroring to HDTV displays via Apple TV, a world phone (GSM and CDMA support), and a whole host of new software features including expanded voice control, many new iOS 5 features, and iCloud to support wireless synchronization and cloud storage.

While I don’t have one to play around with yet, my first interest from a power standpoint will be to evaluate the impact of the A5 processor. We saw a measurable improvement in energy efficiency in the iPad 2 vs. the original iPad, partly attributable to the A5. Roughly doubling overall performance compared to the A4, the A5 is a dual-core processor and adds significant additional power-saving features to do more with less.

Even more interesting, though, will be an evaluation of a less-talked-about new hardware feature: A revamped antenna setup for the iPhone 5 is said to significantly improve reception and data speeds. That should mean fewer dropped calls. We’ll see about that because it won’t be hard to verify this claim. And if data reception is improved by any noticeable amount, I’m certain we’ll be able to see it in our standard “Star Trek streaming test.” With the Retina display remaining constant, we should be able to get some good comparison points on the new hardware.

And here’s the big secret in Apple’s strategy with the iPhone 4S—I expect that Apple TV unit sales will go through the roof. Wireless streaming to today’s huge HDTV displays for $99 is only a little more than double the cost of Apple’s $39 HDMI adapter (Apple Digital AV Adapter), which doesn’t even include the cable! Sign me up.

So no new iPhone 5, but plenty of new features to fiddle around with until the “5” arrives. See you in line!


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