New report measures difference between iPhone X Qualcomm and Intel modems


Last year saw Apple use two different modems in its iPhone models, one from Intel and one from Qualcomm, and there was a difference between the modems’ LTE performance. Many were wondering what the modem situation would like with this year’s iPhone hardware, and now it looks like we’ve got our answer.

Cellular Insights compared the LTE performance of two iPhone X models: the A1865 that has a Qualcomm modem and is sold by Sprint, Verizon, and U.S. Cellular, and the A1901 model that’s sold by AT&T and T-Mobile. The test was conducted using LTE Band 4.

Looking at the results, the Qualcomm modem appears to perform better than the intel modem, but the difference between the two looks smaller than it was last year. The two modems started out at 195Mbps at a strong -85dBm signal, but the Intel model started to fall off in performance afterward and remained their for most of the test.


PCMag notes that customers are most likely to notice the difference between the two devices in weak signal conditions. With a weak signal of below -120dBm, the Qualcomm modem pulled speeds an average of 67 percent faster than the Intel modem. Also of note is that the Intel modem completely fell flat at -129dBm while the Qualcomm modem lasted until -130dBm.

It’s an interesting report, and you should give the whole thing a look if you’re into things like deep dives on cellular modem performance.

So what does all of this mean for T-Mobile customers? If you’ve got an Intel-powered iPhone and you’ve been fine with the performance so far, then you probably don’t need to worry, especially if you’re outside of your return window for the device. Going through the process of selling your Intel iPhone and then buying a full price Qualcomm one may take more effort than some people really want to put forward.

For people that haven’t already bought a new iPhone and want one with a Qualcomm modem, you’ve got a couple of options. You can try to get your hands on a Sprint or Verizon model, but keep in mind that the Sprint model is sold locked to Sprint while the Verizon model is unlocked.

Another option is to buy an unlocked iPhone directly from Apple. While buying an unlocked iPhone X from Apple isn’t an option right now, the folks on Reddit have found that you can buy an unlocked Verizon iPhone X at full price and then choose “Activate with your Carrier Later” to skip the Verizon activation process. The downside to this is that you’ll need to shell out the full price for your new iPhone at the time of purchase.

Source: PCMag

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  • Sharti24

    Well of course the two modems are even steven. Apple is purposely throttling the qualcom model to make it a fair playing field

    • g2a5b0e

      They’re not “even Steven”. That was the point of the article. Did you even bother to read it?

      • Sharti24

        Of course i read it. The results are closer together than last years iphone 7. Theyre throttling the qualcom modem plain and simple. Its not going to be 100% even, thats impossible

        • g2a5b0e

          Absolutely, but to say they are even is clearly incorrect.

    • Trevnerdio

      Could be that Intel improved this year, rather than Apple hampering the Qualcomm.

      • Sharti24

        It better. Apple might end up dropping Qualcomm modems all together next year

        • Trevnerdio

          Booo! Qualcomm is amazing. Intel… Love them, but they definitely have some maturing to do in this space.

      • g2a5b0e

        It could be, but it’s not. The Qualcomm modem is definitely throttled. Apple hates Qualcomm & they would love nothing more than to drop them completely. They only use them because the Intel modem isn’t compatible with Verizon & Sprint’s CDMA networks.

        • Trevnerdio

          It makes me heart smile to see Apple loathingly forced into an arrangement with a great company like Qualcomm :’)

  • arandomperson7

    As an Android user Qualcomm can go f**k themselves, a snapdragon 810 is plenty powerful enough to run Oreo but Qualcomm won’t make official drivers. For once I want Apple to win in court and I hope they take Qualcomm for all they’re worth.

    • Ascertion

      Didn’t Google just release Oreo for the Nexus 6P (810 device)?

    • Tim Hotze

      That’s odd, since the Snapdragon-based Nexus 6P (and 5X, based on the 808) just got official Android 8.1 support:

      That’s especially interesting because the 808/810 are pretty unique chips in the Snapdragon line, using more ARM-licensed cores rather than custom-designed Qualcomm cores (QC, like most other SoC manufacturers, was caught off-guard by how quickly Apple released 64-bit chips, and raced to catch up.)

  • Sharti24

    Im holding onto my phone until band 71 4x4mimo and 256qam are included on the iphone. Hopefully the 11 has it or its another 2 years with my 6s plus