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Claiming that Apple has underclocked the A13 Bionic in the iPhone SE is ridiculous, and here's why

The iPhone SE has 3 GB of RAM and an A13 Bionic SoC. (Image source: Apple)
The iPhone SE has 3 GB of RAM and an A13 Bionic SoC. (Image source: Apple)
Apple is underclocking the A13 Bionic in the iPhone SE, so the story goes. Citing AnTuTu scores, the new iPhone SE cannot match the performance set by the iPhone 11 Pro or iPhone 11 Pro Max, its A13 Bionic-powered siblings. However, there is little use in deducing this from these scores, as we shall discuss below.
Alex Alderson,

AnTuTu has published initial benchmark data for the new iPhone SE, and it is causing a stir. Brought to our attention by MySmartPrice and GSMArena, AnTuTu claims the 256 GB version of the iPhone SE scored 492,166 points. Before we compare this score to any achieved by other smartphones, it is worth pointing out a few things. Firstly, the iPhone SE comes with 3 GB of RAM regardless of which version you purchase. Secondly, these have not been verified independently, nor do we know the circumstances under which AnTuTu arrived at this score.

Nonetheless, multiple outlets have deduced from the images below that Apple must have underclocked the new iPhone SE to achieve 492,166 points with an A13 Bionic. A score described by GSMArena as "underwhelming", MySmartPrice considers the performance of the new iPhone SE "respectable". GSMArena also asserts that the iPhone SE is closer to the iPhone XS Max than it is to the iPhone 11, adding that Apple's US$399 smartphone is "well off the pace" of the iPhone 11 series. This claim is erroneous though, as 492,166 is closer to the 521,010 achieved by the iPhone 11 Pro than it is to 443337 that AnTuTu reports the iPhone XS Max scored.

GSMArena concludes that the difference in scores demonstrates that Apple has "clearly underclocked" the A13 Bionic in the iPhone SE. Based on the scores provided by AnTuTu, the iPhone SE is within 5% of the iPhone 11 Pro, which is 6% shy of the iPhone 11 Pro Max. There is no indication that Apple has curbed the performance of the iPhone 11 Pro, though. Assuming an SoC downclock ignores that the iPhone SE has 25% less RAM than the iPhone 11 series does, too.

So no, we do not yet know whether Apple has downclocked the A13 Bionic in the new iPhone SE. Apple may be equipping the device with binned chipsets, but that is speculation on our behalf. Regardless, these scores do not suggest that Apple has limited the iPhone SE in any way. On the contrary, AnTuTu has inadvertently confirmed that Apple is still selling a smartphone that outperforms the likes of the Galaxy S20+, OnePlus 7T Pro and Huawei P40 Pro at a fraction of the cost.

(Image source: AnTuTu via MySmartPrice)
(Image source: AnTuTu via MySmartPrice)


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Alex Alderson
Alex Alderson - Senior Tech Writer - 5784 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2018
Prior to writing and translating for Notebookcheck, I worked for various companies including Apple and Neowin. I have a BA in International History and Politics from the University of Leeds, which I have since converted to a Law Degree. Happy to chat on Twitter or Notebookchat.
contact me via: @aldersonaj
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 04 > Claiming that Apple has underclocked the A13 Bionic in the iPhone SE is ridiculous, and here's why
Alex Alderson, 2020-04-23 (Update: 2020-04-23)