Data dilemma: you may not be getting the best coverage from your iPhone 7 Plus

Some have slower modems than others

Just the other day we heard that some iPhone 7 handsets have slower write speeds than others, and now it seems that some have worse cellular performance than others too.

That’s because they don’t all use the same modem. A Qualcomm chip is used by Verizon, Sprint and SIM-free models in the US, as well as in China and Japan, while an Intel modem is used by other US networks, as well as in the UK, Australia and elsewhere in the world.

But despite being in wider use globally, the Intel modem is seemingly the poorer performer, as in tests conducted by Cellular Insights it was found to be significantly slower.

When it’s good, it’s very good…

With good signal the two modems performed similarly well, but in areas of weaker cell signal the Intel modem was at worst around 40Mbps slower than the Qualcomm one, and consistently delivered over 30% poorer performance.

The site carried out tests on iPhone 7 Plus handsets, but the modem differences apply to the standard iPhone 7 too.

In real world use these differences in mobile data speeds probably won’t be very noticeable, and if you live outside the US you have no choice of which modem to go for anyway, but if you’re in the position to choose then the Qualcomm one seems the obvious choice.

All that said, if modem speeds are really important to you then the iPhone 7 might not be the phone to buy at all.

Cellular Insights also compared both versions to a handful of other handsets for edge-of-cell performance (where signal is weakest), and found that the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge comfortably came out on top.

Qualcomm declined to comment on the findings when approached by TechRadar. We've contacted Apple about the findings in the report, and will update this article once we hear back.

  • The LG G5 also outperformed the Intel-powered iPhone 7 in weak signal areas