Apple's latest iPhone gets hardware-accelerated AV1 support

Mike Wheatley

During its unveiling of the latest iPhone 15, Apple revealed that the smartphone’s new A17 pro chip has a dedicated AV1 decoder that provides support for AV1 video. The decoder will enable more efficient, high-quality video experiences for streaming services, the company said.


The addition of hardware-accelerated support for AV1 was a long time coming, as Apple joined the Alliance for Open Media organization that develops the codec way back in 2018. The royalty-free AV1 is an alternative to the widely used but proprietary HEVC video format. It’s backed by dozens of big technology companies, including Amazon, Arm, Cisco, Facebook, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, Netflix and Nvidia.

AV1 is able to increase streaming video and sound quality while reducing data rates, ensuring that streams play more smoothly with less delay. It does this by compressing streams in a more efficient way. The update therefore promises to improve the quality of life for iPhone streamers.

Apple first added support for AV1 in its AVFoundation framework that spans the iOS, tvOS, iPadOS and macOS operating systems in 2022. It is already possible to decode AV1 videos on the most recent Apple TV 4K streaming box, but it has limitations.

The launch of the A17 Pro chip in the iPhone 15 is therefore a big milestone, as the first time that Apple has provided hardware-accelerated support for the AV1 standard.

This is big news because the A-Series chips built by Apple are also used in the company’s Apple TV boxes, with the hardware traditionally arriving in them later after making its debut in the iPhone. The implication is that Apple will probably launch a new Apple TV box at some point, featuring the A17 pro chip.

The iPhone 15 Pro and iPjone 15 Pro Max also get another connectivity boost with the addition of a USB-C port, providing support for 4K@60Hz output to monitors via DisplayPort, Apple said.