iPhone 16 set for major RAM boost just to run Apple Intelligence – and why your iPhone 15 won't

iPhone 15 will miss out on Apple Intelligence and here's the reason why

Apple Intelligence
(Image credit: Apple)
Quick Summary

Apple announced that Apple Intelligence will only be available on iPhone 15 Pro models and later.

iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus users won't be able to enjoy this feature which is thought to come down to RAM.

Apple announced Apple Intelligence at its 2024 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), showing off a range of enhancements coming to future Apple devices. At the time, the company confirmed that it would run on the iPhone 15 Pro, 15 Pro Max and iPad and Mac models with M1 and later.

For those with the iPhone 15 or iPhone 15 Plus – launched in September 2023 – that might feel like something of a kick in the teeth: your phone that's less than a year old won't offer Apple's new AI-powered skills.

It was thought that this came down to neural engines, or more precisely the neural engine in different chips that power Apple devices. The iPhone 15 Pro is powered by the A17 Pro while the iPhone 15 is powered by the A16 Bionic. However, there's little difference between this hardware, with both listed as having a 16-core neural engine.

According to a report from Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, it has less to do with this core hardware and is instead because of the amount of memory, or RAM. The iPhone 15 has 6GB of RAM and the iPhone 15 Pro has 8GB RAM. According to Gurman, it was decided internally in Apple that 8GB was the RAM requirement for Apple Intelligence and that will see iPhone 16 getting a RAM bump when it launches later in the year.

The Bloomberg report goes on to say that in an interview after WWDC, John Giannandrea, Apple's SVP responsible for AI, said, "You could in theory run these models on a very old device, but it would be so slow it would not be useful."

In the same interview Giannandrea says that the neural engine in A17 Pro is bigger, before Craig Federighi, Apple SVP of software engineering, says that it comes down to lots of factors, including RAM.

It's expected that the iPhone 16 models will also benefit from a bump to A17 Pro along with the increase in RAM to power Apple Intelligence. For those with an iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, you'll either have to upgrade, or accept that Apple Intelligence is something that your phone won't offer.

Apple Intelligence will bring a range of writing tools, custom genmoji, summarise calls, give you priority notifications, create images from your sketches, supercharge Siri and a whole lot more. Apple's focus is on personalised intelligence and privacy, saying that it will also be able to lean on cloud models like ChatGPT if you're asking for something outside of Apple Intelligence's skills.

It's expected that Apple Intelligence will launch in the US in autumn – likely alongside the launch of iPhone 16 – while launch in Europe could be delayed, because of the impact of the Digital Markets Act in the European Union.

Chris Hall

Chris has been writing about consumer tech for over 15 years. Formerly the Editor-in-Chief of Pocket-lint, he's covered just about every product launched, witnessed the birth of Android, the evolution of 5G, and the drive towards electric cars. You name it and Chris has written about it, driven it or reviewed it. Now working as a freelance technology expert, Chris' experience sees him covering all aspects of smartphones, smart homes and anything else connected. Chris has been published in titles as diverse as Computer Active and Autocar, and regularly appears on BBC News, BBC Radio, Sky, Monocle and Times Radio. He was once even on The Apprentice... but we don't talk about that.