With there being an ongoing legal spat between Apple and Qualcomm over chip royalties, it is always interesting to see headlines with both of those two names involved.
Thankfully, this latest round of news does not directly relate to the dispute, but it does make it all the more interesting. According to wireless signal testing firm Cellular Insights, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X16 modem is capable of consistently better LTE speeds than devices with Intel’s XMM7480. The iPhone X makes use of modems of both types.
In order to do its testing, Cellular Insights used professional equipment and started with an LTE signal from a strong -85dBm. Then they gradually reduced the power level to simulate moving away from a cellular tower where signal obviously becomes weaker, until the modems lost their cellular connectivity completely. According to the results, it did not take a huge reduction in signal quality for Intel’s LTE modem to begin to show reduced performance.
While both modems started out with 195Mbps of download throughput on a 20MHz carrier, the Qualcomm difference appeared quickly, as the Intel modem dropped to 169Mbps at -87dBm. The Qualcomm modem took an additional -6dBm of attenuation to get to that speed.
However, it is when very weak signals are at play that the Qualcomm edge is most obvious, with Intel struggling to keep pace.
At very weak signal strength, below -120dBm, the Qualcomm modem got speeds on average 67 percent faster than the Intel modem. The Intel modem finally died at -129dBm and the Qualcomm modem died at -130dBm, so we didn’t find a lot of difference in when the modems finally gave out.
Apple offers the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus in two models everywhere except inside Japan. The first of those two models is the Qualcomm-based offering labelled A1865, which is compatible with with CDMA networks Verizon and Sprint in the United States. The second version uses the Intel chip and carries the label A1901. This particular flavor of iPhone works with GSM networks like AT&T and T-Mobile. That means that the A1865 model offers the very best LTE performance, but depending on which carrier you use, this may not be an option for you.
You can reconfirm your model number by either checking at the backside of the box your iPhone X came in, or simply through Settings > General > About > Legal > Regulatory section of iOS on the device itself.
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