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iPhone 12 may be the most powerful smartphone ever — how will Apple use it?

(Image credit: EverythingApplePro)

The announcement of the iPhone 12 is approximately a week away according to numerous reliable leakers. And while fans might be in for some letdowns, there's certainly plenty to look forward to with Apple's new flagship lineup.

One of the highlights for Apple in recent years has been its powerful custom processors. And based on an impressive new leaked benchmark for the A14 Bionic that was uncovered by frequent leaker @UniverseIce, it doesn't look like the iPhone 12 will be an exception (via Forbes).

Now one important caveat is that the benchmarks in question are for the iPad Air 4. While it does use the A14 Bionic processor that we expect to see in the iPhone 12,  it's possible that there will be some performance differences given the need for greater power conservation in the smaller form factor.

However, the iPhone 12 has room to spare between this result and the performance of its nearest competitor the Snapdragon 865+ CPU found in devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. In our testing, the Note 20 Ultra managed a Geekbench 5 single-core score of 985 and a multicore score of 3,294, coming up about 38% shy of the A14 results in single-core and about 22% short on multi-core. 

There's little question that this will make the iPhone 12 the most powerful smartphone on the market when it arrives later this month. The question is, what Apple will do to leverage that power? It made a big deal of the "breakthrough machine learning" performance of the A14 Bionic at the iPad Air 4 announcement last month, but without much elaboration on what it will be used for.

Photography should be a given, Google's work in this area has been the key to its success with the lesser Pixel hardware. With far and away superior cameras this could be the generation when Apple retakes its smartphone photography crown if it can do more with its on-device machine learning. 

The company has previously tapped into machine learning to deliver superior facial recognition and general speed improvements for the OS and apps, these will no doubt see another boost as well. And finally with LiDAR rumored to arrive on the iPhone 12 Pros expect to see Apple flex some of its processing power with AR.