iPhone 7 with Qualcomm modem performs 30% faster than its Intel counterpart, says report

Cellular Insights compares the LTE performance of iPhone 7 variants based on Intel XMM7360 and Qualcomm MDM9645M modems.

iPhone 7 LTE Band 4 comparison
iPhone 7 LTE Band 4 comparison for Intel and Qualcomm modem based handsets Cellular Insights

Apple iPhone 7 has come under severe scrutiny ever since its launch for exhibiting unequal performance levels with its Qualcomm and Intel-modem based handsets. The latest benchmark report by Cellular Insights suggests that the iPhone 7 running on Qualcomm modem performs 30% faster than its Intel counterpart.

iPhone 7 LTE Band 12
iPhone 7 LTE Band 12 performance comparison Cellular Insights

iPhone 7 users claim that the Intel-modem powered AT&T and T-Mobile models performed slower than the Qualcomm version found in Verizon and Sprint-based handsets.

According to the report, Cellular Insights has compared the performance of both the Intel XMM7360 modem and the Qualcomm MDM9645M using a Rohde & Schwarz (R&S) CMWflexx setup containing two R&S CMW500 and one R&S CMWC controller, as well as the R&S TS7124 RF Shielded Box with four Vivaldi antennas.

Here is a brief extract of the benchmark report that sums up the performance comparison between Intel and Qualcomm-modem based iPhone 7 handsets:

This study has been done entirely independently, and Cellular Insights takes full responsibility for the analysis and opinions in this report. We have self-funded the procurement of iPhone 7 Plus units through commercial retail channels. All units have been preloaded with the latest version of iOS (10.0.3).

At -96dBm the Intel variant needed to have Transport Block Size adjusted as BLER well exceeded the 2% threshold. At -105dBm the gap widened to 20%, and at -108dBm to a whopping 75%. As a result of such a huge performance delta between the Intel and Qualcomm powered devices, we purchased another A1784 (AT&T) iPhone 7 Plus, in order to eliminate any possibility of a faulty device. The end result was virtually identical. We are hoping that this sudden dip in performance at a specific RSRP value will be further investigated by the engineering and hopefully resolved. At -121dBm, the Intel variant performed more in line with its Qualcomm counterpart. Overall, the average performance delta between the two is in the 30% range in favor of the Qualcomm variant.

iPhone 7 LTE Band 4
iPhone 7 LTE Band 4 Cellular Insights

The report further explains the performance comparison across LTE bands 12, 4, and 7 to conclude that the performance difference is same for each band. It is ascertained that the iPhone 7 with Intel modem performed terribly bad at most signal strengths than the modem on the iPhone 6s.

iPhone 7 LTE Band 7
iPhone 7 LTE Band 7 performance comparison between Intel and Qualcomm-based handsets Cellular Insights