Apple's iPhone 11 Pro is unlikely to catch up to the best Androids in terms of 4G LTE speeds

Apple's iPhone 11 Pro is unlikely to catch up to the best Androids in terms of 4G LTE speeds
Apple doesn't like to hype the specifications of its new devices much, focusing more on the real-life capabilities and features enabled by various display, camera, processor, or battery upgrades than things like resolution, clock speed, cell size, or memory count. But theoretical numbers often correlate with the concrete user experience, which is why it's definitely important to know what the hot new iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max can do in terms of 4G LTE speeds, for instance.

Unsurprisingly, no cellular speed tests were performed on stage at the September 10 launch event in Cupertino, while the official iPhone 11 Pro spec sheet keeps things as vague as always, listing Gigabit-class LTE support with 4x4 MIMO and LAA for "all models." That's all iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max models, mind you, with the "regular" iPhone 11 listed as including slightly humbler Gigabit-class LTE technology with 2x2 MIMO.

In case you're wondering, the iPhone XS and XS Max also came with "Gigabit-class" LTE modems and 4x4 MIMO, while the iPhone XR featured a similarly downgraded 2x2 MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) antenna design in combination with a generic Gigabit-class LTE chipset. That seems to suggest nothing has changed, but according to one company specialized in independent evaluations of download and upload speeds, that might not be the case after all.

The iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max deliver an important but far from game-changing upgrade


Based on nationwide data collected from August 9 to September 9, the LTE modems inside Apple's latest high-end handsets make the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max faster than last year's XS and XS Max by an average of around 13 percent. To reach that conclusion, SpeedSmart examined all big four carriers, also declaring T-Mobile the best of the bunch for both downloads and uploads, closely followed by Verizon. AT&T ranked third at a substantial distance, with Sprint dead last (as usual) and pretty much impossible to include in the same league as T-Mobile, especially in terms of upload speed.


Talking numbers, it looks like you can expect the iPhone 11 Pro to reach anywhere between 37 and 49 Mbps in downloads, up from 32 to 42 Mbps for the XS and XS Max. Of course, these are theoretical nationwide averages, so depending on where you live... and about a dozen other factors, your real-world figures will often be significantly lower.

Another thing we need to highlight is that it's not entirely clear where SpeedSmart got its iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max units from to be able to perform these tests starting August 9. After all, the handsets are only scheduled to go up for pre-order on September 13, with deliveries kicking off 7 days later. Now, we're not saying these tests didn't happen, but it might be wise to wait and see if other sources confirm the data and apparent LTE improvement.

How does the iPhone 11 Pro compare to the competition?


It's obviously hard to answer that question without relevant data provided by the same company, but it just so happens that OpenSignal released a very comprehensive report on this topic earlier this week. In it, the iPhone XS and XS Max were ranked a shameful 47 and 43 respectively for US download speeds, with averages of between 25 and 26 Mbps. That's lower than what SpeedSmart got in the last month, but even assuming the latter's 13 percent upgrade would translate into a 13 percent iPhone 11 speed bump in the former's rankings, that's not enough to challenge the OnePlus 7 Pro, LG V35 ThinQ, Samsung Galaxy S10+, and the rest of the Android heavyweights.


In other words, Apple still has plenty of catching up to do as far as LTE capabilities are concerned. Then again, the next iPhone generation could make the 5G jump en masse, possibly leveling the field all of a sudden if Apple and Qualcomm can bury the hatchet. Until then, it will be interesting to see if the cheaper iPhone 11 is moderately upgraded too. While insiders pointed in that direction several times over the last few months, we'll have to wait for a different set of tests to confirm or refute that particular rumor.

For what it's worth, the iPhone XS and XS Max can typically upload stuff on 4G at a pretty decent pace, and according to SpeedSmart, the mysterious new LTE modems on board of the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max deliver a solid improvement in that area as well, which might be enough to close the gap to Huawei, OnePlus, and Google reported by OpenSignal.

Related phones

iPhone 11 Pro
  • Display 5.8" 1125 x 2436 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 12 MP front
  • Processor Apple A13 Bionic, Hexa-core, 2650 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 3079 mAh
iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • Display 6.5" 1242 x 2688 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 12 MP front
  • Processor Apple A13 Bionic, Hexa-core, 2650 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 3969 mAh

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18 Comments

1. Vancetastic

Posts: 1382; Member since: May 17, 2017

It's not about speed. It's about that smoooooth "experience". Except when an iPhone wins a benchmark or speed test. Then it's about speed and performance. Don't forget sales and profits!

10. blingblingthing

Posts: 971; Member since: Oct 23, 2012

Exactly. Android phone has loads of ram - resource hog. Apple packs a high-end CPU - powerhouse. Extra features in Android - clutter. Lack of features in Apple - simple and easy. Apple adds old Android features in new version of iOS - game changer, still clutter free.

13. Vancetastic

Posts: 1382; Member since: May 17, 2017

Seriously, I've owned, and still own Apple devices, and I think they're fine, but the way the media treats them has never ceased to amaze me.

16. blingblingthing

Posts: 971; Member since: Oct 23, 2012

Exactly. Couple of year ago we had the iPhones are the best camera phones fallacy. Mind you iPhones were last on the HDR train, so how was that possible? Now that we have NUMEROUS outlets doing camera comparisons, the new fallacy is iPhone has the most natural colors. Funny thing is, Android phone were labeled for washed out colors previously. Let an iPhone win a speed test - the optimization. Android wins - oh, short animations.

17. Uforco

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 12, 2019

At the core of this update is Apple's new processor, the A13 Bionic, which Apple claims is the fastest CPU and GPU in a smartphone.

2. gadgetpower

Posts: 208; Member since: Aug 23, 2019

Internet depends on carrier. Sometimes they slowed it down and capping your speed. Though the speed of my internet is enough for my consumption.

5. Be_Mine

Posts: 266; Member since: Dec 29, 2013

Damn Telecom Carriers... Always intentionally slowing down the Internet Speed for iOS Devices. LOL :D

11. blingblingthing

Posts: 971; Member since: Oct 23, 2012

I almost always get faster data speeds on my OnePlus 6 compared to any iOS device I run against. I guess the A series Soc isn't all we hyped it to be.

3. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3108; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Will they ever go back to snapdragon for their lte chip?

4. Pcworld1976

Posts: 163; Member since: Sep 18, 2018

Only 49 MB ? Lol my Xperia 1 296 MB in 4g and 980 MB mimo 4x

6. CreeDiddy

Posts: 2215; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

Having the fastest LTE speed isn't a big deal.

7. Fred3

Posts: 536; Member since: Jan 16, 2018

Tell that to the people who can only get LTE in the area that they live in

14. Vancetastic

Posts: 1382; Member since: May 17, 2017

It would be a HUGE deal if iPhones were the fastest.

8. blingblingthing

Posts: 971; Member since: Oct 23, 2012

We know the Apple defense, the A series processors are miles ahead. Download speeds aren't important.

9. yalokiy

Posts: 1008; Member since: Aug 01, 2016

Almost twice slower than current gen and about as fast as 3 years old phones...wow

12. Pcworld1976

Posts: 163; Member since: Sep 18, 2018

my minimum connection is 3 times that of the iPhone https://www.speedcheck.org/result/293178173

15. slashas

Posts: 137; Member since: Jul 17, 2017

The price Apple Pay with intel chips, 2020 iPhones will be in par with androids with snapdragons mobile chips ;)

18. sunnyfpy

Posts: 284; Member since: May 12, 2013

Ridiculous slow LTE speed with fastest chipset,,,,????

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