iPhone 7 Plus Qualcomm LTE Modem Outperforms Intel LTE Modem by Significant Margin

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Oct 20, 2016.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    With the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, Apple elected to use LTE modems from two different sources, Qualcomm and Intel. The A1778 and A1784 iPhone models use a GSM-only Intel XMM7360 modem while the A1660 and 1661 iPhone models use a GSM/CDMA-compatible Qualcomm MDM9645M modem.

    Apple's decision has already caused some disappointment among customers because the GSM-only Intel modem is not compatible with as many carrier networks as the GSM/CDMA Qualcomm modem, and now independent testing conducted by Cellular Insights suggests there are some significant performance differences between the two modems, with the Qualcomm modem outperforming the Intel modem.

    Using an R&S TS7124 RF Shielded Box, two R&S CMW500, one R&S CMWC controller, and four Vivaldi antennas, Cellular Insights created a setup to simulate LTE performance at different distances from a cellular tower using two iPhone 7 Plus devices, one with an Intel modem and one with a Qualcomm modem.

    The goal of the test was to measure the highest achievable LTE throughput starting at a Reference Signal Received Quality of -85dBm (a strong signal) and gradually reducing the power level to simulate moving away from a cellular tower where signal is weaker. Three LTE bands were tested: Band 12, Band 4 (the most common band in North America), and Band 7.


    In all three tests, both the iPhone 7 Plus models offered similar performance in ideal conditions, but as power levels decreased, Cellular Insights saw "unexplainable sharp dips in performance" in the Intel modem, finding a gap "north of 30%" in favor of the Qualcomm iPhone 7 Plus. In the charts, the Qualcomm modem maintains noticeably higher throughput speeds than the Intel modem as signal strength decreases.


    In real world conditions, this would suggest the Qualcomm modem does better in areas where the cellular connection is weak, with faster throughput speeds. Cellular Insights describes the Band 12 test below:
    Cellular Insights also created a chart that compares the edge of cell performance of several different smartphones. The increasing numbers on the X-axis below represent increasingly poor signal strength, while on the Y-axis, a higher throughput number indicates better performance. The iPhone 7 Plus with an Intel modem demonstrates the poorest performance of all phones tested.


    According to Cellular Insights, in every single test, the iPhone 7 Plus with a Qualcomm modem "had a significant performance edge" over the iPhone 7 Plus with an Intel modem.

    For more information on the testing methodology and greater technical detail on the results, make sure to check out Cellular Insights' full comparison article.

    Article Link: iPhone 7 Plus Qualcomm LTE Modem Outperforms Intel LTE Modem by Significant Margin
  2. ScubaCinci, Oct 20, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2016

    ScubaCinci macrumors 65816


    Jul 11, 2008
    Cincinnati OH
    So much for that...first it was dropping LTE signal all over the place and now that the latest patch "fixes" it, I can't get LTE speeds of over 10Mbps when I used to get 20+ on my iP6+
  3. thisisnotmyname macrumors 68000


    Oct 22, 2014
    known but velocity indeterminate
    So this is the new TSMC vs Samsung chip debate. Oh well, I have the "slow" modem and haven't been at all disappointed in real world performance.
  4. mtcowdog macrumors regular

    Jul 17, 2010
    I rare experience. Having an iPhone on Verizon has an LTE benefit. Haha.
  5. jav6454 macrumors P6


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    Ok now the hoarding of Qualcomm modems begins
  6. Giantscruz macrumors member


    Nov 6, 2013
    Yay Area
  7. BootsWalking macrumors 6502a

    Feb 1, 2014
    My Qualcomm-equipped iPhone 7 approves this message (running on AT&T).
  8. polterbyte macrumors 6502


    Sep 24, 2012
  9. c0ppo macrumors 65816


    Feb 11, 2013
    I don't care for iToys. I'm waiting for rMBP :D
  10. Gueeds, Oct 20, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2016

    Gueeds macrumors regular

    Jul 29, 2015
    I have the Intel modem. Maybe I have a clunker, but speeds are way worse in real world use. Almost as bad as bad 3G when I have LTE on both. Side by side using the same SIM card, I'm lucky to get 1mbps up and down on the 7. I get 12 down and 1 up on my 6+ which is good enough.

    Phone is going back, if the replacement doesn't improve, I'm keeping my 6+.
  11. asleep macrumors 68040


    Sep 26, 2007
    Why oh why doesn't Apple single source these key components,

    Nothing ticks off a customer more than the feeling that their phone is performance-disadvantaged to other same model iPhones due to chance.
  12. supersalo macrumors 6502


    May 14, 2010
    This is a total non-story. Any significant drop off on these charts starts at -105dB.

    That's BARELY two bars (1 bar is -107 and lower). Plus their controlled test doesn't take into account any attenuation due to atmospheric conditions.

  13. mattopotamus macrumors G5


    Jun 12, 2012
    and here I am with cricket all happy I get 11 mbps when it's capped at 8 :p
  14. ahostmadsen macrumors 6502a

    Dec 28, 2009
    In order to save a few $ by pitting suppliers against each other, Apple shortchanged their customers. I have the Intel version, and I'm very upset with this. First, it is severely constrained when traveling abroad. And now, even when at home, it is inferior to the same price Qualcomm version. Shame on you Apple. Give a partial refund to customers with an Intel modem. You sell two products at the same price, one is clearly inferior to the other, but you don't tell customers. You should charge less for the Intel version.
  15. _Refurbished_ macrumors 68000


    Mar 23, 2007
    I have the slow HDD and an Intel modem. This is the fastest, most reliable iPhone I've ever had and I've had an iPhone since the 3G. I get signal on a woodsy road where my 6S did not. No complaints.

    I love my 7+.
  16. biglipps66 macrumors member

    Mar 11, 2012
    Hasn't helped my crap 11mb speeds in Los Angeles so no care
  17. cppguy macrumors 6502

    Apr 6, 2009
    SF Bay Area, California
    In the real world, the network and the environment are the bottleneck, not the chip. We're behind steel-glass walls, city blocks, mountains, and the network is overloaded. By the time your phone will be the limit, you won't own the phone anymore.
  18. Snide macrumors 6502a


    Apr 12, 2005
    It's a huge story for me because I spend a lot of time in an area with 1 to 2 bars of LTE.
  19. Adithya007 macrumors regular

    Apr 16, 2015
  20. calzon65, Oct 20, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2016

    calzon65 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 16, 2008
    It's unfortunate Apple went back to different LTE/GSM/CDMA chip suppliers within the same iPhone series (e.g., the iPhone 7). Consumers could loose from this decision ... let me explain.

    If you purchase a Verizon/Sprint enabled iPhone 7, that phone will operate on CDMA, LTE, or GSM. If you purchase an AT&T/T-Mobile enabled iPhone 7, that phone will only operate on LTE or GSM, it won't operate on CDMA.

    So let's now take the unsuspecting US consumer who thinks they can take their unlocked iPhone 7 and jump from AT&T/T-Mobile to Verizon/Sprint, they will be in for a rude awakening and can only use part of the Verizon/Sprint network.

    Apple had solved this issue with a few of the pervious iPhones models, meaning, you could move between the four carriers without a problem, but with the iPhone 7 Apple is back to their old tricks.

    So the warning here is make sure you fully understand the type of iPhone 7 you purchased and on what networks it will fully operate, because if you choose poorly and want to change carriers, you could be in for a big surprise.
  21. supersalo macrumors 6502


    May 14, 2010
    There's no significant difference between the two. In their "lab", the throughput difference was 20%. In the real world, it's probably closer to 5%.
  22. Adithya007 macrumors regular

    Apr 16, 2015
    Me: Can I have the 256 Gb Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus with the Qualcomm Modem?
    Apple Store: Nope, we only have the slower 32 Gb iPhone 7 Silver with the Intel modem.

    *gets back home searching for the old 5s*
  23. cdmoore74 macrumors 68020

    Jun 24, 2010
    Wrong thread.
  24. MaciMac100 macrumors 6502

    Oct 26, 2014
    This message is sent using superior Qualcomm modem.

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