The iPhone 7 version with Intel modem gets whacked by the Qualcomm model in weak signal areas


Intel scored big by wiggling its nascent LTE modem design inside Apple's iPhone 7 and Plus, at least for the version that doesn't require getting up on CDMA (Verizon, Sprint) and TD-SCDMA (China, Japan) networks - those come with Qualcomm cellular modems. This has undoubtedly saved Apple a few bucks, as Qualcomm's modems are the expensive gold standard of cellular connectivity, fitting a record number of LTE bands, filters and all, closely together without interference.

The Intel XMM7360 modem has been developed in close cooperation with Apple, and it's said that at one time last fall, Intel had a team of a thousand engineers creating the cell radio to fit within Apple's parameters. The ultimate goal might be for the next-gen 7460 modem to be a complete SoC solution, combining the processor, graphics and all wireless connectivity options in one small chip.

For now, however, Qualcomm still has the upper hand when it comes to cellular modem design, as it covers a wider range of LTE bands, and more wireless connectivity standards in a single chip, taking better advantage of carrier aggregation. This has recently been empirically proven with elaborate LTE connection testing equipment. 

It turns out that in ideal conditions, both modems perform admirably, maintaining strong signal, and able to take advantage of similar maximum download speeds. When coverage gets weak or spotty, however, Qualcomm managed to pull ahead with about a 30% better performance on average, compared to the Intel version of the iPhone 7 Plus. Oh well, that's not going to affect your real world usage too much, but it shows that Intel still has some catching up to do with Qualcomm's cellular modem designs. Another interesting fact is that it was actually the Galaxy S7 edge, of all the phones tested, that pulled way ahead of all designs, and this one has Samsung's in-house Shannon LTE modem chip.


Related phones

iPhone 7 Plus
  • Display 5.5" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 7 MP front
  • Processor Apple A10 Fusion, Quad-core, 2340 MHz
  • Storage 256 GB
  • Battery 2900 mAh(21h 3G talk time)
iPhone 7
  • Display 4.7" 750 x 1334 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 7 MP front
  • Processor Apple A10 Fusion, Quad-core, 2340 MHz
  • Storage 256 GB
  • Battery 1960 mAh(14h 3G talk time)

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10 Comments

1. sgodsell

Posts: 7382; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

What a joke Apple has become. If users buy a 32gb iPhone 7 version, then they also get much slower storage. Apple the hidden and manipulative company.

2. zunaidahmed

Posts: 1183; Member since: Dec 24, 2011

yeah right, Samsung has been doing the same for ages, using lame 820 for a lot of variants while using 8890 for others, I don't see them getting any blame? So apple does this because the supply can't keep up and they get the blame? What hypocritical world are you living in?

3. painnpanic

Posts: 34; Member since: Dec 18, 2013

820 and 8890 are nearly the same it's just that a Samsung phone is optimized for the 8890. Look at the G5 and you will see identical performance. Back on topic all companies do this from time to time. Remember when Samsung used two different camera sensors on the same phone. I've never heard about Apple using slower storage for the 32gb IPhone.

4. Macready

Posts: 1824; Member since: Dec 08, 2014

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/oct/21/32gb-iphone-7-slower-than-more-expensive-versions-tests-show The 32GB NAND chips are up to 8(!) times slower than the 128GB version. There's nothing wrong with sourcing from different suppliers or even using different specs (as long as results are similar), but when there's such a massive difference in performance, I can see a lot of gnashing of teeth from owners of the lesser ones. In this case it doesn't help that a lot of iPhone 7 owners indeed complain about reception issues (3G/4G, Wifi or even GPS).

11. PrYmCHGOan

Posts: 335; Member since: Sep 28, 2016

First off, the Samsung when they use the camera, both cameras are made by Sony. SAMSUNG has a specific spec for their own and Sony makea them. Photos have show. That you can't even tell them apart without installing software to tell younger hardware specifics. So not it's a terrible comparison to Apple. Of course you never hear anything about Apple that's bad, at least not on fanboy sites like this one. Notice that the base iPhone always has lesser vs the larger sized model. Yet with SAMSUNG all the s6 and s7 models have ice rival hardware. On my the S Active tends to be different, but not like the iPhone. Why doesn't both iPhone have the same hardware? Yet they charge more money? What OEM has. $650 phone with an HD display? None! What OEM has a $650 phone, with a below 2000MaH battery? None!

5. bolosantosi

Posts: 103; Member since: Sep 20, 2016

I think your comparison failed

13. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

Just 'cause you never looked for complaints against their SD variants doesn't mean they never existed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=233f0ewFWGk

10. PrYmCHGOan

Posts: 335; Member since: Sep 28, 2016

I honest don't think the issue is the modem itself, but the shell it's going into. Every single iPhone no matter what modem it's using, has had connectivity issues. I think it's how IOS world with it. Assuming Apple works in the driver, it seems it poorly tweaked for performance. I don't know if any specific iPhone model that share the exact same Qualcomm modem as another brand of phone, but over the years, I can think of a phone model hat ever has connectivity issues like the iPhone. If you just Google, Every single iPhone model has had issues on networks with exception of VZW. CDMA has been proven to be stronger than GSM networks, especially in areas of high usage. I think Intel should stick with processors.

12. jeroome86

Posts: 2314; Member since: Apr 12, 2012

Guess that would explain why my co workers keep dropping calls on Verizon. Not to mention the buffering while watching YouTube.

14. nukmichael

Posts: 2; Member since: Oct 14, 2016

Samsung note4 use intel modem chip and get trouble with signal losses in Taiwan, now Apple do the same thing again !

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