While Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) fans are still reveling in the success of the current iteration of the iPhone -- the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus -- analysts are predicting even more upside for shareholders. Recently, UBS analyst Steven Milunovich increased his estimate of second quarter iPhone sales, adding 3 million to his estimate that now totals 58 million.
Overall, Wall Street has a consensus estimate that Cupertino will move 54 million units this quarter, a year-over-year increase of 23.6% from last year's 43.7 million phones sold. And even better for Apple shareholders, due to a larger form factor, each one of those iPhones adds approximately $687 to the company's top line. For investors, every 1 million phones sold adds nearly $700 million to Apple's top line that's now expected to come in at $55.2 billion in the upcoming quarter.
But Apple's not resting on its laurels either. While many are focused on the current iteration of the iPhone, the rumor mill is heating up about Apple's plans to make the next iteration even better. And so far, the two leaked rumors hints toward a better device. The first rumor, I covered in detail here, was Apple's plans for a carrier-agnostic SIM card. But the second one is more related to performance: Apple plans to increase its RAM to 2GB versus the 1GB the device is currently sporting.
For those not familiar with RAM, or random access memory, it's a type of computer storage. This can get highly technical, so I'll keep the description rather high level. The benefit of RAM is it is quicker than flash storage on the phone. The trade-off for this speed comes at the loss of data once the system is powered off, cost, and power drain. An apt comparison would be to compare RAM to a Ferrari and flash to a Volvo: RAM's expensive, requires premium gas, but you can't beat the speed.
Specifically, more RAM tends to be of increasing importance when your phone needs to access more data quickly and from multiple sources. For smartphone users, these two scenarios are when you have multiple sites pulled up in your phones browser and, more importantly, for those using their smartphones for gaming. The more data that can be stored in RAM would prevent reloading from flash, as well as speeding gameplay and browsing speeds.
Samsung leads Apple in processing performance
On specs alone, Apple's iPhone would appear seriously lacking against Samsung's (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF) premium Galaxy line. For example, when it comes to RAM, Apple's iPhone 6 has the aforementioned 1GB of RAM while the newest Samsung iterations –the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge -- have a monster 3GB RAM. And that's on top of two quad-core processors that clock in at 2.1 GHz and 1.5 GHz, respectively, where Apple's iPhone 6 boasts of a dual core 1.4 Ghz processor.
And as expected, recent benchmarking tests from Computer Base (by way of Forbes) confirm Samsung's newest phones beat Apple's iPhone 6 in multicore performance, boasting performance 56% faster than Apple when using multicore performance. When it comes to single-core performance, Apple is 13% faster, but games and browsing don't confine themselves to a single core, after exhausting RAM, making the comparison a mostly esoteric one.
Benchmarks vs. the real world
That said, in many cases benchmarks are poor proxies of real-world performance. First, Samsung's has officially stated they have stopped the practice, but the company is known for benchmarking rigging. Next, and most importantly, comparisons are meaningless once a certain processing performance level is attained. Yes, Samsung is faster but the differences between the two phones are minimal to most users.
In the end, however, Apple realizes gamers, developers, and casual users will continue to ask for better performance from their smartphones as games, apps, and browsing becomes ever more complex. Apple hasn't updated its RAM since 2012, it's a good time to refresh its RAM capacity.