You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Apple Might Be Limiting the Cellular Download Speeds of the Verizon iPhone 7

November 18, 2016

Apple could be limiting the cellular download capabilities of Verizon iPhone models. That’s according to a new report from Bloomberg.

A uniform experience

A uniform experience
Comparing the iPhone 7 download speeds. The data was taken from more than 100,000 phones across the country downloading an image.

Comparing the iPhone 7 download speeds. The data was taken from more than 100,000 phones across the country downloading an image.

Credit: Bloomberg

The report cites research from Twin Prime and Cellular Insights to show that the Verizon model is capable of faster download speeds compared to the AT&T model. But in real-world testing, both models seem to perform about the same:

Neither firm is clear on the reason, but Twin Prime says it may be because Apple isn’t using all the potential of a crucial component in the Verizon version.

“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. “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.”

Verizon’s and Sprint’s model of the iPhone 7 features a modem chip from Qualcomm while the AT&T/T-Mobile version has a version of the chip made by Intel. The Qualcomm modem can download at up to 600 megabits per second. Intel’s chip tops out a maximum of 450 megabits per second:

Qualcomm’s X12 is capable of dealing with more channels of data simultaneously than its Intel rival, according to a report by Milan Milanovic, an analyst at Cellular Insights, which tests phones and networks. Apple didn’t enable this feature “to level the playing field between Qualcomm and Intel,” Milanovic wrote.

Some analysts cited by the article speculate Apple may have throttled the capability of the chip to keep the two models a close to uniform as possible.

Apple's response

Apple's response

Apple did offer a response to the findings:

“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.”

While in testing conducted by the firms found that the Verizon model does perform a bit better, it is interesting to see the lengths that Apple will go to to provide a uniform experience for its customers. And realistically, cellular download speeds depend on a whole host of factors besides the modem chip.