So slow, it would not be useful: Apple exec on why old iPhones can’t get AI

Many Apple users were left dejected after the company revealed that iPhones other than the iPhone 15 Pro wouldn’t be getting Apple Intelligence AI capabilities. Many were quick to speculate that this was due to hardware limitations in other iPhones, including differences in RAM (8GB RAM in the Pro vs. 6GB in standard models) and inferior SoCs.

However, in a recent development, Apple’s head of AI strategy, John Giannandrea, revealed that older iPhone models, in theory, could support Apple Intelligence, but the experience may not be optimal.

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Possible to Run on Older iPhone Models but Experience to be Laggy

During a discussion on John Gruber’s podcast, Giannandrea explained that while it is possible to run Apple Intelligence on older hardware, the performance would be laggy and not usable. Giannandrea said that the performance would be ‘so slow, it would not be useful.’

He said, “The inference of large language models is incredibly computationally expensive.” He added, “It’s a combination of bandwidth in the device, the size of the ANE, and the oomph in the device to actually do these models fast enough to be useful.”

Also read: Apple to ‘Pay’ OpenAI for ChatGPT Through Distribution, Not Cash

What Is the Bare Minimum to Run Apple Intelligence?

Considering that the Apple iPhone 15 Pro has the A17 Pro SoC with the latest Neural Engine and 8GB RAM, it is likely the bare minimum Apple will require to implement these AI features in future iPhone models.

This is also why reports suggest that the vanilla iPhone 16 model may ship with 8GB RAM. This may be a necessary step to ensure that the latest iPhone 16 models can run the newest software features and to avoid creating a significant gap between the Pro and standard models.

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