Verizon vs AT&T iPhone X versions tested, big advantage for Qualcomm's modem in weak-signal scenarios


Entangled in a patent war with Qualcomm, Apple is trying to avoid the use of its components like cellular modems any way it can, and has been shipping iPhones with Intel modems for a while now, destined for GSM networks. The iPhone X isn't spared this duplicity, and comes in versions with both Qualcomm's X16 LTE modem, and Intel's XMM7480. 

The X16 is the modem of choice for all flagships sold in the US this year, as it allows CDMA network tapping, and allows up to 1Gbps downloads, but since the Intel chip maxes out at 600Mbps, Apple has neutered the X16 to even all models out. This shows in direct comparison, with, say, the Note 8, which achieves nearly double the download speeds of the iPhone X on one and the same network.

The bad part, however, is that there are also differences in download speeds between the iPhone X's A1865 model, which is on Verizon or Sprint, thus uses the Qualcomm modem, albeit in a crippled version, and the more widely available A1901 variant with the Intel modem that's shipped to AT&T, T-Mobile, and most every other GSM network globally. 

Armed with top-shelf network testing equipment, research firm Cellular Insights took both the A1865 and A1901 models of the iPhone X,, and blasted them with LTE signal of varying strength. It turned out that the Intel modem consistently underperformed in comparison with the Qualcomm one, but the difference was especially pronounced in simulated weak-signal scenarios, which saw the A1865 iPhone X model score 67% faster download speeds on average than the Intel modem version. 

Bummer, but Apple is rumored to be working with Intel on a CDMA and 5G network support modem for next year's iPhones that will end its dependency on Qualcomm, and might even bring us a dual SIM, dual LTE iPhone with Gigabit LTE download speeds. For now, though, you are better off getting unlocked iPhone X, which is likely using the Qualcomm modem, so that you have some extra assurance in low-signal areas.

source: PCMag

Related phones

iPhone X
  • Display 5.8" 1125 x 2436 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 7 MP front
  • Processor Apple A11 Bionic, Hexa-core, 2390 MHz
  • Storage 256 GB
  • Battery 2716 mAh(21h 3G talk time)

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10 Comments

1. bambamboogy02

Posts: 837; Member since: Jun 23, 2012

Apple will market it as an upgrade, to make even more profit on something that should be standard. Remember the addition of GPS ?

2. LAFN

Posts: 61; Member since: Jul 19, 2009

Kind of a side question. Does any unlocked phone work just as well on AT&T network as one that is from AT&T? Does it work with all the same towers, etc.?

4. nicknack84

Posts: 48; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

When buying an unlocked phone, check to see what bands it's capable of working on. This will help to determine if it can handle better bandwidth's.

8. Phullofphil

Posts: 1762; Member since: Feb 10, 2009

If you buy an unlocked cdma version you can use it on att and T-Mobile. That way you will have the Qualcomm chip. Supposedly all Verizon phones will be unlocked. Mine is but I bought it from apples store. The intel version won’t work on cdma or most of it. But I think if you buy a cdma version you will have the best phone. Barely but hey it is what it is. The other thing is that you should not notice a difference unless you can get 600mbs service and I don’t think it’s a reality yet.

3. Mreveryphone

Posts: 1817; Member since: Apr 22, 2014

I have both the Note 8 and iPhone X and there is a considerable difference in signal quality. My Note 8 gets better standby signal, better download speeds and better streaming quality than my iPhone X does. When streaming video on the X I notice lagging and or flat out dropping of the stream as to my Note 8 the rarely does any of this while streaming. When at my house I always have full bars of signal on my Note 8 when the phone is just sitting but only have 2 to three bars on my X. Speeds do seem faster on my Note 8 as pages are faster to load, downloads take less time to complete, and speed test result numbers are better. The signal in iPhones are probably the worse on the market right now...

5. cameraguy2

Posts: 6; Member since: Nov 07, 2017

Curious to know what carrier you are on. Some carriers only use the "Bars" to show signal strength for voice, not data.

6. Mreveryphone

Posts: 1817; Member since: Apr 22, 2014

T-Mobile. It may be just for voice but I do notice a difference in speeds when I'm using my Note 8...

10. Phullofphil

Posts: 1762; Member since: Feb 10, 2009

That could be a different reason. But at the same time you should not notice difference between the two x models unless you get service that’s over 600mbs with nobody has.

7. L0n3n1nja

Posts: 1548; Member since: Jul 12, 2016

Apple doesn't mind limiting the user experience to maximize profits, it won't have an effect on sales any way.

9. Phullofphil

Posts: 1762; Member since: Feb 10, 2009

That’s not why they do it. They do It so All models are the same and they have two suppliers.

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