Apple limiting download speeds of Qualcomm-powered iPhone 7: Report

By Karthekayan Iyer | Published on 22 Nov 2016
Apple limiting download speeds of Qualcomm-powered iPhone 7: Report

Apple iPhone 7 running on Verizon's network are technically capable of downloading data faster than those from AT&T


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Apple this year opted to use both Qualcomm and Intel LTE chips on its flagship iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus this year. It isn't just easy to differentiate between the two but new reports indicate that Apple is limiting download speed on iPhone 7.

According to a new research, Apple iPhone 7 running on Verizon's network are found to be capable of downloading data faster than those from AT&T. The researchers at Twin Prime Inc and Cellular Insights say the two phones perform about the same in testing. Twin Prime says the reason being that Apple is not fully exploiting the potential of a crucial component in the Verizon model.

"The data indicates that the iPhone 7 is not taking advantage of all of Verizon’s network capabilities," said Gabriel Tavridis, head of product at Twin Prime told Bloomberg News. "I doubt that Apple is throttling each bit on the Verizon iPhone, but it could have chosen to not enable certain features of the network chip."

"Every iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus meets or exceeds all of Apple’s wireless performance standards, quality metrics, and reliability testing," Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said. "In all of our rigorous lab tests based on wireless industry standards, in thousands of hours of real-world field testing, and in extensive carrier partner testing, the data shows there is no discernible difference in the wireless performance of any of the models."

The root cause of this reported gap in performance is the modem. While previous iPhones came with standard wireless modems, iPhone 7 opts for different modems. According to Bloomberg report, Verizon users get an iPhone 7 with Qualcomm's latest X12 modem while AT&T users get iPhone 7 with an Intel modem. According to report, the Qualcomm X12 LTE modem is capable of downloading data at up to 600Mbps while the Intel one tops out at 450Mbps.

According to Twin Prime's field tests, the Verizon version was found little faster than its AT&T counterpart. The firm conducted the test on Samsung's Galaxy S7, which also uses Qualcomm's X12 LTE chipset and realised S7 was twice as fast as the iPhone 7 based on data from more than 100,000 phones downloading an image in large US cities.

In a separate report by Recode, the Twin Prime's findings have been substantiated and Apple seems to have done this in order to save on cost and flexibility of having two component sources.

Even with the launch of iPhone 6s, Apple opted for two different processors - one made by Samsung and other made by TSMC. While the difference in performance was not huge, users did notice some disparity. Same applies with the difference in modems. While Apple using different modem for different carriers may not be a big deal breaker, it will certainly worth noting that Cupertino-based smartphone maker is using its prowess to limit the performance.

Karthekayan Iyer

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