Report says iPhone 7 Intel modem doesn’t perform as well as Qualcomm modem


Following the launch of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, it was discovered that Apple used different modems in different models. And according to a new study, there’s a notable difference in performance between the two modems.

The Verizon, Sprint, and SIM-free versions of the iPhone 7 come with a Qualcomm MDM9645M modem, while the AT&T and T-Mobile models include an Intel XMM7360 modem. Cellular Insights compared both versions using signal testing equipment on LTE bands 4, 7, and 12.

With a strong signal, both the Qualcomm and Intel versions of the iPhone 7 Plus performed about equally well. That changed when the signal got weaker, though, the differences in performance began to show. For example, the Qualcomm model put up speeds of about 63Mbps at -110dBm on band 12, while the Intel model was around 36Mbps. At -110dBm on band 4, the Qualcomm phone was at 100Mbps, while the Intel device was at around 60Mbps.


“In all tests, the iPhone 7 Plus with the Qualcomm modem had a significant performance edge over the iPhone 7 Plus with the Intel modem,” said Cellular Insights. “Overall, the average performance delta between the two is in the 30% range in favor of the Qualcomm variant.”

This report also compared the band 4 performance of both the Qualcomm and Intel versions of the iPhone 7 Plus to a few other devices, including the iPhone 6s and Galaxy S7 edge, both of which have other Qualcomm modems.

This is actually the second notable difference between the iPhone 7 models that’s been discovered. The iPhone 7 sold by AT&T and T-Mobile (the Intel version) doesn’t include support for CDMA, meaning it won’t work on Verizon or Sprint in the US. However, the iPhone 7 that’s sold by Sprint and Verizon and is also available SIM-free includes support for all four major US networks.

As for why there are two different modems in the iPhone 7, Apple hasn’t officially given an answer. Considering the differences that we’re seeing between the two versions, though, it looks like the best iPhone 7 to get is the SIM-free model if you’re able to.

For more charts and other detailed info on this Intel vs Qualcomm modem comparison, check out the Cellular Insights link below.

Source: Cellular Insights

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  • Gabe Robiatti

    This explains why my work Verizon 6s work better with my T-mobile service compared to the T-mobile 7 plus that I bought through T-mobile.

  • Ascertion

    Qualcomm makes good radios/modems. They just suck when it comes to processors.

    • nachofrand

      LOL WUT. They suck? Lmao you’re uneducated.

    • Trevnerdio

      Would have to disagree on this. I’ve never had any issues with my Qualcomm chipsets. They’re awesome.

    • John Doe

      You can’t judge an entire company by one chipset. Yes, the snapdragon 810 was terrible but they have many great processors.

      • Ascertion

        Their latest Snapdragon 820 is 14nm and performs worse than other processors at 28nm. It’s actually quite sad. Samsung/Huawei/Apple’s processors are much more power efficient, and faster.

        • Rob

          Umm… You can’t really compare octacore and decacore SoCs to quadcore ones. The 821 slaps all the others down on single core performance which is what is most important (obviously nothing slaps down the A10 as usual) and Qualcomm had the fastest graphics period.

        • Ascertion

          Can you show me a source of this claim? According to a few quick Google searches, I’ve found the SD 820 around 10% slower than their Exynos counterpart, in single-core benchmarks.

          Single-Core Score
          Apple A10 : 3479 (iPhone 7 Plus), 3457 (iPhone 7)
          Exynos 8890 : 2038
          Snapdragon 821 : 1853
          Snapdragon 820 : 1847

  • Nick

    Wonder what this would look like for B12, both of these bottom out around 3-5 MBPs on B4 which is still a usable speed. I would like to see what B12 looks like.

  • dontsh00tmesanta

    Lol lame

  • Dan

    Off topic. But Will a sprint iphone 6s work on t-mobile if its unlocked. Thanks

    • John McMasters

      yes. IPhone’s are universal cell phones which work on any carrier as long as it is unlocked

      • Kaulana1989

        No AT&T and T-Mobile iPhone 7 and 7+ do not work on Verizon or sprint

        • You’re Wrong

          That is incorrect, they will work on both carriers LTE network, they will not work on their older CDMA network.

      • Lit

        Unfortunately they are now GSM-only versions.

  • mike

    Why did Apple make iPhone’s with two different modem’s? that is a first for them and that’s not how apple roles

    • Verizonthunder

      Last year was two different processors that affected battery performance by five percent

      • Lit

        I would think after this fiasco they would source it out to one manufacturer only.

      • Mike

        Is there a link for that?

  • emcdonald75

    Wasn’t the iPhone 6S/6S Plus chipsets made by two different companies, TSMC and Samsung, which showed a difference in battery life and heat output? I would think since that decision didn’t work out best for Apple, the company would have tried to avoid using similar parts by two different manufacturers. I understand Apple’s reasons might be to get products out to market faster or even to find ways to lower costs, but I hate that I need a Sprint, Verizon or Sim-Free model to get the best performance from an iPhone 7 Plus when I am a T-Mobile customer.

    • AngryBadger

      yeah, there were some differences in speed/battery life at most was an hr iirc.

  • vinnyjr

    I don’t believe the difference is that much. My iPhone 7 gets sick speeds.

    • Verizonthunder

      It’s not speed, but network coverage, and being able to pick up a signal

    • SirStephenH

      The study said that there was little difference if you have a strong signal. It’s with weaker signals that the differences become more apparent.

  • mikeZo6

    apple should recall iPhone 7 model A1778 the att and tmo verizon

    • Lit

      Agreed. It already sucks that it is GSM-only, now we learn that it doesn’t perform as well. I wouldn’t have mind it was 5, maybe 10% difference, but 30%? At least give us the option to swap it out for the sim-free.

  • Enzowned

    But doesn’t the intel one have more gsm bands? I think I got that impression somewhere haha. Is it the same as an international version? I have one for use outside the US.

  • Moe

    This would explain why TMO iPhone 7 owners are complaining about poor connect speeds. Seems this is a material defect and Apple should step up and take the phone back or exchange it for the one with the faster more reliable modem. Tmo should be raising hell with Apple and advocate on behalf of the TMO customers that are stuck with the shitty phone.

    • Verizonthunder

      Buy the unlocked version

      • noh1bvisas

        of course, if you have the cash to buy it outright. if you’re a tmo customer and need the payment plan, then there’s the problem.

        • Verizonthunder

          If you need to be on a payment plan to afford an iPhone, that means you cannot afford an iPhone period.

        • Toasted_Cracker

          Carter Pewterschmidt is that you?

        • Verizonthunder

          If you handle money well, everyone is considered a Pewterschmidt

        • Toasted_Cracker

          I suppose you bought your vehicles and house outright too then didn’t you?

        • Verizonthunder

          Smartphone’s are a luxury, not a requirement

        • noh1bvisas

          i agree. most people won’t, though.

        • Lit

          So everyone should carry cash and not credit cards?

        • KrisKordova

          I have had the cash for many purchases and still financed them… I’d rather have cash!

        • Moe

          This has nothing to do with how you purchased the iPhone – payment plan or outright purchase. It has to do with Apple issuing a phone with poorly performing components. Take your head out of the sand and understand the issue.

  • Toasted_Cracker

    So what does the tmobile iPhone 6S+ have in it? Because this thing gets the best reception I’ve ever seen.

    • a d00d

      Probably a Qualcomm radio coupled to their own A10 (or whatever) SoC. Just like Samsung did with the LTE Galaxy Note II (I have the TMo version): their Exynos SoC for GSM/HSPA with a separate Qualcomm RF chip for LTE (one of their first).

      Also remember that, because of the debacle before (with icrap 5 or 4, I don’t remember which), Apple concentrated on better antenna arrangements, so the 6 could be heavily antenna-optimized.

    • KrisKordova

      My 6s was pretty bad. You are probably getting B12 signals that you weren’t before.

      Actual iPhone reception is pretty bad. + models worse than regular ones.

      • Toasted_Cracker

        I wish it was b12. B12 isn’t available in my area yet. I have a nexus 6P also and it won’t hold a signal in the same area.

    • SirStephenH

      iPhones actually tend to have worse reception than their competitors.

      • Toasted_Cracker

        I’ve heard that but my 6S+ is the opposite. The reception is better than my 6P, Note 7 when I had it, S7 Edge and G4. The only phone in recent memory that has had similar reception has been the Note 4.

        This is my first iPhone I’ve ever owned. I love Android and am not bashing it in anyway. This is just my experience.

        Idk maybe I just got a particularly good one.

  • But the T-mo network is “data strong”.

    • joneski

      hey troll this has nothing to do with T-mobile. move along

      • a d00d

        In a way it does, because the CDMA-free variant is what AT&T and T-Mobile are offering as carrier phones, and I assume most of the world’s other carriers. As both carriers officially signed off on those modems, they are on the hook, as far as I’m concerned, for poor performance in a premium device.

        Also I am guessing here–only a guess–that this was an experiment by Apple to compare Qualcomm and Intel radios in the real world. Apple, AT&T, and T-Mobile had to know from testing that the Intel radio was worse than the Qualcomm: R&S sells their analyzers to everyone and (should have) has nothing to lose by putting their name on this.

        That said, this could also be that Qualcomm developed (W)CDMA and much of LTE, and their radios are in most radios, so it could also be an incompatibility, similar to Bluetooth or even WiFi chips from different manufacturers not talking properly to each other–a big problem back in the early days of both protocols. This is mostly solved now, but LTE is a lot more complex, so this could be Intel not talking the way something by Qualcomm would expect, especially if the analyzer was designed with input from Qualcomm themselves. (You can also think of this as the difference programmers have to face with Intel vs AMD with x86/64 processors.)

        TL;DR IMHO (my own guess here) Apple tried an experiment in the real world with production phones and got caught. Being the Cult of Jobs, though, they’ll almost certainly get a pass from everyone in the end.

        • SirStephenH

          They had to “sign off” on them, there’s no fighting Apple on this. Apple unfortunately has more leverage than the carriers do. They’ve created a brand (not necessarily a good one) with a cult following and if carriers want to sell their phones they have to do it on Apple’s terms or risk losing customers.

        • Mike

          exactly Apple designed the phone not T-Mobile or AT&T

  • William C Bonner

    I waited to buy the SIM Free version on principle. Now it looks like there might be something better about it beyond not being tied to a carrier. Any idea if better performance might mean slightly better battery life?

    • SirStephenH

      Generally the faster that you can transmit and receive, the sorter time you need to do so. This can reduce power usage but I don’t know if you’d even notice.

  • Rob

    Apple wanted to avoid the Qualcomm CDMA tax obviously. Qualcomm has a stranglehold on CDMA as it developed the technology and they charge a premium for it.

  • Mike Palomba

    I have noticed issues with signal with my 7+ compared to my 6s. I figured it was a software glitch but now that I know it’s a hardware problem I’m pretty unhappy

  • Dan

    Does the iPhone 7 pick up a stronger singal than the 6s? I heard they redesigned the antennas on the 7

  • Irfan

    yes you can compare easily on Intel website , its not new this was Explained long time ago.
    guys chill… APPLE SUCKS`

  • FryChickenIsha

    I returned my iPhone 7 Plus. Honestly, I’m starting to hate Apple, I wish the note7 was still available. I loved the blue coral. That phone was sexy af. In the meantime I will go back to my note4.

    • noh1bvisas

      samsung announced the s7 edge will be released in that blue

      • Mike

        might as well wait for the s8 it normally releases around March or April

      • FryChickenIsha

        If it does, I will buy it for sure.

        • Jaden Keuten

          It absolutely will be.

  • W Smitty

    False advertisement…

  • Raiterio Patterson

    Dodged a bullet