Gather around, iPhone and carrier fanboys, the annual drive-by network shooting testing will determine which of the new iPhone 11, Pro and Max has the fastest download speeds, and enjoys better coverage from the big four - Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. Well, not Sprint, as the tester was blocked after jumping with SIM cards between devices too many times, but the big three.
PCMag, whose parent company owns the makers of the Speedtest app, didn't take advantage of that insider knowledge this time, as there isn't nearly enough crowdsourced data with the new iPhone crop. Instead, they took several different iPhone models, and ran some impromptu speed testing around Manhattan themselves.
On theory, the new iPhone 11 and Pro models should have faster cellular connectivity than their XR and XS predecessors, given the newer Intel XMM7660 modem version inside. In practice, the significant difference was between the iPhone 11 and the 11 Pro models, as the cheapest 2019 iPhone only supports 2x2 MIMO, just like the XR does.
The 4x4 MIMO crowd, where the XS and Pro models belong, scored much higher download speeds than the 11 and XR, but between themselves it was actually the XS that was somewhat faster on GSM carriers, despite the older modem version.
iPhone XR vs XS vs 11/Pro/Max download speeds
Intel XMM7660, it turns out, supports 7x carrier aggregation (CA) but only 5x CA are unleashed in the new iPhones, just like last year, whereas the Note 10+ that has a Qualcomm modem inside, comes with 7x CA, and handily beats the new iPhones in download speeds on all carriers.
On AT&T and T-Mobile, the XS actually scored faster peak download speeds than the 11 Pro, but not on Verizon. Long story short, we'd have to wait for the 2020 iPhone 5G for blazing fast download speeds. If your carrier and data plan can bear those, that is.