Choosing The Right Apple Product: Understanding Apple’s Tech Specs

Apple is a renowned brand that sells itself; their products are known for their amazing performance and sleek design that whenever Apple releases a new product, queues will form outside their stores.

Before making a purchase, people will generally compare models on Apple’s website first, but how many of us truly understand what their technical specifications mean? Today, we’re here to help you understand some of the more important specifications of certain Apple products so that you can make a more informed decision rather than buying on impulse. 


In this section, we’ll be comparing the 13-inch MacBook Air to 13-inch MacBook Pro and 16-inch MacBook Pro.

13” MacBook Air 13” MacBook Pro 16” MacBook Pro
13.3” Retina Display 13.3” Retina Display 16” Retina Display
8-core Apple M1 Chip 8-core Apple M1 Chip Up to 8-core Intel Core i9 Processor
16-core Neural Engine 16-core Neural Engine

1. Retina Display

Apple’s Retina display indicates how detailed the screen will be depending on the product’s size and the viewing distance. Apple considers a display to be a Retina display if it has a certain number of pixels per inch that are too small to be seen by the human eye at normal viewing distances. With a retina display, everything on your screen will appear crisper.

2. M1 Chip VS Intel Core i9 Processor

Prior to the release of Apple’s new 13-inch MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 chip, the MacBooks were mostly powered by Intel Core Processors. When the new Apple M1 chip MacBooks were released, the industry and tech enthusiasts were very eager to find out more about it. Currently, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is still running on the 8-core Intel Core i9 processor. 

The Apple M1 chip employs an ARM-based architecture that allows the CPU, GPU and other processor components to share the same data pool, resulting in significant speed and efficiency gains. To date, it is also the most powerful chip that Apple has created. 

For easier understanding, imagine this: you’re hungry and need to cook a plate of fried rice, you can simply get your overnight rice, vegetables, meat and other items from your refrigerator. In this case, the refrigerator is the M1 chip, which contains everything you need, allowing your MacBook to run much faster than the Intel Core i9 Processor, which does not hold all of your processor components in one chip. 

The Apple M1 chip is designed to specifically run dedicated tasks, it has four high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores, which is why it is referred to as the 8-core M1 chip.

The high-performance cores are designed to provide the best performance for single-threaded tasks that require a lot of power. There are four high-efficiency cores that use a tenth of the power to preserve battery life for tasks that are less intensive and do not require the same power, such as simple internet surfing.

The Intel Core i9 processor can handle up to 128GB of DDR4-3200 RAM. RAM memory can be thought of as a “supplier” for “energy” to run your applications; running one application consumes RAM memory, and running more consumes more memory.

While most CPUs can support up to 128GB of RAM, they are rarely found in the market as these products will be very expensive. The M1 Chip in the 13-inch MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro has up to 16GB of unified memory, while the 16-inch MacBook Pro has up to 64GB of RAM. 

Although the Intel Core i9 processor is thought to be slower and less powerful in terms of performance, Apple’s performance is fairly consistent across the board, such that the 16-inch MacBook Pro running on Intel Core i9 processors are also able to meet performance standards. However, if you wish to experience faster performance, especially with certain design and editing software, consider getting the MacBooks running on the M1 chip. 

3. Neural Engine

Both the 13-inch MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro come with a 16-core neural engine. It is a special processor that is designed to accelerate machine learning tasks across MacBooks for things such as video analysis, voice recognition, image processing, etc.

The 16-core neural engine has a 15x faster machine learning performance compared to previous models. 


In this section, we’ll be comparing the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th Generation) to the iPad (9th Generation) and iPad Mini (6th Generation).

iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th Generation) iPad (9th Generation) iPad Mini (6th Generation) iPad Air
12.9” Liquid Retina XDR Display 10.2” Retina Display 8.3” Liquid Retina Display 10.9” Liquid Retina Display
ProMotion Technology
Wide Colour Display (P3) sRGB Wide Colour Display (P3) Wide Colour Display (P3)
M1 chip with next-generation Neural Engine A13 Bionic chip with Neural Engine A15 Bionic chip with Neural Engine A14 Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture

1. Retina Display

A Liquid Retina display is a type of LCD display found in many Apple products including the iPhone 11, iPhone XR, and iPad Pro. It uses a higher pixel-per-inch density to create a paper-like screen effect with pixels that are not visible to the naked eye. When compared to the standard Retina display, it has better colour accuracy and a higher pixel density. However, Apple’s Retina display does not fare too badly as it has always provided very crisp displays. 

The Liquid Retina XDR display on the new iPad Pro 12.9-inch is even better. Instead of the typical single LED backlight panel or multiple LEDs, it illuminates the display with over 10,000 mini-LEDs. It not only has a higher display resolution than the standard Liquid Retina display, but it also has a higher max full-screen brightness of up to 1000 nits and a peak brightness of up to 1600 nits (HDR). 

For comparison, movie theatre screens are usually around 50 nits, while regular mobile phones go up to at least 300 to 400 nits. 

2. ProMotion Technology

The ProMotion technology in Apple’s 12.9-inch iPad Pro is essentially just a brand name for their adaptive, high refresh rate display. A standard refresh rate updates a display 60 times per second (60Hz).

The ProMotion technology, on the other hand, boasts a refresh rate of 120Hz, which is twice as fast as typical refresh rates. As a result, the iPad Pro 12.9-inch will have smoother scrolling, improved responsiveness, and better performance when compared to other iPads

3. Wide Colour Display (P3) vs sRGB

The Wide Colour Display P3 is a colour space within the RGB colour model that represents a broader colour spectrum than the current industry standard sRGB. The Wide Colour Display P3 has a 25% larger colour space, which means that the screen can represent more colours with greater accuracy, staying true to what those colours actually look like in real life.

The iPad Pro, iPad mini and iPad Air with Wide Colour Display P3 are ideal for anyone considering using them for design and creative work. 

However, this certainly does not mean that the iPad operating with sRGB is any less good. It would be sufficient for those looking to use the iPad as a productivity tool, such as for scheduling, reading and planning work. 

4. M1 chip vs Bionic chip

The new iPad Pro 12.9-inch is powered by Apple’s new M1 chip with 64-bit desktop-class architecture. Just like the MacBook, it has an 8-core M1 chip with four high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores.

On the other hand, the iPad (9th generation), iPad Air and iPad Mini (6th generation) are powered by the A13 Bionic chip, A14 Bionic chip and A15 Bionic chip respectively. All of which include two high-performance cores and four energy-efficient cores, each with a slightly better performance than the older version.

According to performance tests, the A15 Bionic chip has a slightly better CPU performance and better battery consumption efficiency compared to the A13 Bionic chip. Overall, the test showed that the A15 Bionic chip has a 29% better performance compared to A13. 

Apple Watch

In this section, we’ll be comparing the Apple Watch Series 7 to Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 3.

Series 7 SE Series 3
Always-On Retina LTPO OLED display Retina LTPO OLED display Retina OLED display
S7 SiP with 64-bit dual-core processor S5 SiP with 64-bit dual-core processor S3 SiP with dual-core processor
W3 Apple wireless chip W3 Apple wireless chip W2 Apple wireless chip
U1 chip

1.  Retina Display

Apple’s LTPO OLED display is short for Low-Temperature Polycrystalline Oxide. It is used in conjunction with OLED displays to reduce power consumption by varying the refresh rate of your Apple Watch

As OLED screens consume a significant amount of your battery life compared to other components, LTPO assists in maintaining all-day battery life while providing you with always-on displays in the Apple Watch Series 7. The always-on display never sleeps so that you can always see the time and information you need. 

2. S7, S5 & S3 SiP with dual-core processor

The S3 SiP with dual-core processor in the Apple Watch Series 3 is a custom-designed “System in Package” 32-bit chipset revealed in 2017. The S3’s two cores are 70% faster than the Apple S2, launching applications faster and allows a smoother user interface. 

The S7 SiP and S5 SiP are both 64-Bit dual-core processors. The only difference between them is that the S7 SiP has got a 5GHz Wi-Fi and Satellite positioning while S5 only has a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi and Satellite positioning. 

S7 SiP is up to 20% faster than the S3 SiP in the Apple Watch Series 3. 

3. W3 & W2 Wireless Chips

The Apple “W” series is a family of SoCs (System on a Chip) that integrate all or most of an electronic system’s components. This series of wireless chips focuses on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. 

W2 is integrated into the Apple S3 SiP in Apple Watch Series 3, allowing for 85% faster Wi-Fi connections.

The W3 is used in Apple Watch SE, Series 7 and a couple of other series. It is essentially the same as W2, except that it supports Bluetooth 5.0. 

4. U1 Chip

The Apple U1 chip now enables its more recent models to precisely locate and communicate with other U1-equipped devices or other devices that support ultra-wideband. Simply put, it improves spatial awareness. 

Apple’s new AirTag actually contains the U1 chip, which allows you to precisely locate items if you lose it with the AirTag attached. 

So far, Apple hasn’t specifically mentioned how the addition of the U1 chip to the Apple Watch Series 7 will benefit its users, but it may help Apple in developing a powerful way to locate and find lost items. 

With a better understanding of Apple’s technical specifications and how some of their latest products work, you can now make better decisions when shopping for Apple products. 

While some models outperform others in terms of performance and features, some of these enhancements may not be necessary for you. Be selective based on what you need and choose to downgrade or upgrade accordingly.

Shop Apple’s MacBook Pro, iPad and Apple Watch at Harvey Norman Singapore and enjoy greater savings. 

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