Apple has been trying to divorce itself from chipmaker Qualcomm in bits and pieces, which you may already know about from the headlines about the ongoing legal spat. You may not know, though, that one of the consequences of this staggered departure is that some iPhone X units carry Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 modem chips while others have XMM7480 chips made by Intel.
According to a new study from Cellular Insights, which specializes in wireless download reports, you’re getting better speeds if you happen to use an iPhone X with one of the Qualcomm chips than one of the iPhone X units with Intel modems. Naturally, this means that Apple’s split with Qualcomm may not be as ideal as it would prefer.
According to the full study as reported in PC Magazine, the Qualcomm chips consistently did better, and the difference was especially noticeable in areas with weak signals. At an especially weak signal strength of -120dBm, for instance, the Qualcomm modem was still downloading at around 67% faster than its Intel counterpart.
The difference is largely based on carrier in the US, so if you’re using a CDMA network like Verizon, Sprint or US Cellular, you’re probably using an iPhone X with the Qualcomm-built A1865 chip. If you’re on the GSM network used by T-Mobile and AT&T, your phone most likely has the A1901 chip made by Intel. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus have the same chip division, but Cellular Insights notes that it didn’t test these models.
Cellular Insights conducted its tests on the widely used LTE Band 4 preferred by most major carriers aside from Sprint. In essence, using specialized equipment, it tested the devices on the same towers and recorded the phones’ performance as they moved away from them.
Same as last year, kind of
The difference isn’t so great this year, though, leading PC Magazine to suggest that Apple itself might be throttling the Qualcomm chips to account for the difference. (Hopefully not, but you never know.)
In any event, the news means that you’re definitely going to be getting better LTE performance on your iPhone X if you use Verizon or Sprint in the US.
If you’re overseas (in any country save Japan, which uses its own model), make sure you’re using the A1865 model. It’s also the only available unlocked model in the US, which means if you’ve shelled out full-price, you’re fine.