Apple is reportedly limiting LTE speeds on iPhone 7 model with Qualcomm modem to match speeds of Intel modem model. Here’s why.

Tests carried out by cellular experts appear to show that Apple may be artificially limiting the speed at which the Verizon and Sprint iPhone 7 with Qualcomm modem connects to the network, and while performance is on a par with iPhone 7 with Intel modem connected to AT&T or T-Mobile, the hardware within the Verizon and Sprint iPhone 7 model should allow it to perform considerably better.

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This is because the LTE chips in use across the two devices are provided by two different manufacturers and two different specifications, with that in the Verizon iPhone 7 with Qualcomm modem capable of much higher speeds than that used by the AT&T model with Intel modem.

To be more specific, the Verizon, and indeed, Sprint iPhone 7 models use an LTE modem provided by Qualcomm, whilst the AT&T and T-Mobile iPhone 7 handsets use an Intel LTE modem. The difference? Qualcomm’s chip is capable of speeds up to 600Mbps whereas the Intel chip can only reach 450Mbps.

So, why is the Qualcomm not reaching the speeds that we know it can? The suspicion is that Apple nobbled it in order to make sure all iPhones perform the same, no matter which network they are connected to.

“The data indicates that the iPhone 7 is not taking advantage of all of Verizon’s network capabilities,” said Gabriel Tavridis, head of product at Twin Prime. “I doubt that Apple is throttling each bit on the Verizon iPhone, but it could have chosen to not enable certain features of the network chip.”

When asked about the claims, an Apple spokesperson responded without actually addressing the question, which is impressive when you think about it.

“Every iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus meets or exceeds all of Apple’s wireless performance standards, quality metrics, and reliability testing,” Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said. “In all of our rigorous lab tests based on wireless industry standards, in thousands of hours of real-world field testing, and in extensive carrier partner testing, the data shows there is no discernible difference in the wireless performance of any of the models.”

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The Samsung Galaxy S7, which uses the Qualcomm LTE chip found in Verizon iPhones, trounces the iPhone 7 in LTE data throughput. Maybe we now know why. As to how much better the iPhone 7 LTE chip’s performance would’ve been had Apple opted for Qualcomm as its sole manufacturer, this is what Jackdaw Research analyst Jan Dawson had to say in his exchange with Recode.

The reality is, of course, that every phone maker makes decisions about how to balance battery life and performance across a variety of components, and so you rarely see a phone that’s maxed out on all possible performance parameters because it would be terrible for battery life.

(Source: Bloomberg, Recode)

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