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Apple Intelligence Is the Perfect Excuse to Buy More iPhones, a Crucial Element to the Company's Future

  • AI features will be exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro and Max. They will not be available on other iPhone models.

  • This gives potential buyers a strong incentive to upgrade to future iPhones.

Apple Intelligence
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Apple’s artificial intelligence is already available in the developer beta versions for iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia, and it’ll soon be available in public betas, too. However, not all iPhone owners will be able to try it out. Why? You’ll need an iPhone 15 Pro or an iPhone 15 Pro Max for the privilege. The decision, however, doesn’t seem arbitrary at all.

The NPU is crucial. Unless you have one of these two models, you won’t be able to access the functions that Apple offers with its new AI system. The company has explained that in order to take advantage of Apple Intelligence, devices must have chips with a sufficiently powerful NPU (Neural Processing Unit). The M1 and later versions have that capacity, but when it comes to Apple’s mobile chips, only the latest A17 Pro is compatible, according to the tech giant.

Why not older models? Apple doesn’t explain the reason for not being able to enjoy those options on the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus. The A16 Bionic is a truly remarkable chip, but AI functions probably don’t have enough headroom on it to run smoothly. As such, Apple has preferred to avoid complaints about disappointing experiences. The other option, of course, is that it wants to use this requirement as an argument to sell more iPhones in the future.

Your iPhone 13 is no longer sufficient. It’s interesting to note that iPhones can typically utilize ChatGPT and other chatbots because everything operates in the cloud. This means that Apple could potentially enable direct server queries for less powerful iPhones that are unable to run the local model. As analyst Michael Gartenberg points out in Wired, “I suspect this is the opportunity Apple has been waiting for to tell you that the iPhone 13 really isn’t good enough anymore.”

You'll have no choice but to switch to a different iPhone. This means that those who want access to Apple Intelligence options will need to purchase either the iPhone 15 Pro or iPhone 15 Max or wait the company’s new models. If the current trend—where standard models get the same chip as the Pro line in the previous generation—continues, future models like the iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Plus will likely be equipped with the Apple A17 Pro chip. If this turns out to be true, eventually, even these “basic” models will have access to these Apple's new AI functions.

Sales are expected to increase, at least according to Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities. He explained that the AI features “should change the growth trajectory of Cupertino-spur and AI driven iPhone upgrade cycle starting with iPhone 16.”

But they won't increase everywhere. However, the rollout of these features will be gradual. Initially, they’ll only be available to U.S. users in English, potentially limiting the growth in sales. Nevertheless, users worldwide may still purchase the product in anticipation of Apple Intelligence reaching other regions and languages quickly. Although Apple hasn’t specified a timeline, it has confirmed that this is the plan.

Perfect timing. If this prediction comes true, it’ll happen at the moment when Apple needs it the most. iPhone sales have been stagnant in recent months and experienced an unusual decline in the first quarter of this year. According to company officials, 10% fewer iPhones were sold compared to the same period last year, marking the biggest sales drop since the summer of 2020.

AI comes to the rescue. The reasons for switching phones haven’t been so compelling for quite some time. With little innovation in their designs, manufacturers have mainly relied on new processors and cameras to attract customers. People could prolong the lifespan of their smartphones, but AI has the potential to become the killer featue that can reignite sales. This is likely what Apple is banking on.

Related | Understanding Apple Intelligence, Apple’s Property AI Model: Here’s How It Compares to Other Models and How It Will Use ChatGPT

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