According to the latest information, Apple is preparing to purchase a large amount of QLC NAND flash memory. This suggests that the company plans to use it on a large scale in its future products. It is possible that iPhone 16 smartphones will also be equipped with memory. Devices in this series have been using TLC cells for a long time, so it would be quite a significant change. Unfortunately, the new solution is not without its drawbacks.
The Apple iPhone 16 smartphone may be the first to use QLC memory cells. This may allow the debut of larger capacity devices, but at the cost of, among other things, lower memory resistance to wear.
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Unofficial reports indicate that QLC memory would appear in iPhones that will offer 1 TB or more of storage space. The main motivation for the change is the fact that this type of cells can store more data than TLC, while maintaining similar chip sizes. Theoretically, therefore, the change may seem to be a natural step that goes hand in hand with progressive miniaturization. Thanks to the use of QLC, higher production efficiency is also possible, which is important from the point of view of the costs incurred by the manufacturer. In practice, however, these cells also have a number of disadvantages.
First of all, QLC cells are less resistant to wear and tear than TLC. They are characterized by a smaller number of write cycles, which, if the smartphone is used very intensively, may theoretically lead to damage to the stored data. In practice, this disadvantage is not that significant, because probably few people will be able to exhaust the limit of write cycles during the standard period of use of the smartphone. The characteristics of using smartphones are usually completely different than, for example, SSD drives used in computers.
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Therefore, the lower speed of QLC memory seems to be a more serious disadvantage. In such a case, a somewhat bizarre situation could arise in which a model with a larger data capacity would be slightly slower than models with a smaller amount of memory. If Apple actually plans to release the iPhone 16 with more than 1TB of storage, it may not have an alternative to QLC cells after all. We should find out what it will be like in practice later this year.