iPhone 7 Plus modems analyzed, Qualcomm deemed better than Intel
The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus have cellular modems from two sources, the first time modem sourcing has been diversified for the device series. Qualcomm provided CDMA-capable chips — to wit, it is the X12 LTE modem that can be found on the Snapdragon 820 — for iPhones destined for the US, China and Japan while other territories got iPhones with Intel modems.
It always seems like whenever we’re trying to place parity on performance of one part of an iPhone sourced from two companies, one has to be the winner and one has to be the loser. In the case of Cellular Insights‘s analysis, it turns out that the Qualcomm units (MDM9645M) outperform the Intel units (XMM7360) when it comes to the very commonly deployed LTE Bands 4 and 7 and the key low-frequency LTE Band 12.
Performance is measured with a comparison of throughput to signal levels. As measured in comparable iPhone 7 Plus units, in all three bands, we see a 30 percent performance tip to the X12 against the CEVA processing power of the Intel unit. The weaker the signal, the wider the performance gap — stronger signals saw comparable performance, but the falloff can reach as high as 75 percent.
Another weird note that furthers the disparity seen here: while T-Mobile and Telstra have implemented advanced Quadrature Amplitude Modulation technologies, both receive the Intel-equipped iPhone 7 which do not support it. The Qualcomm modems do.
More about the controls implemented in the Cellular Insights test can be found at the source.