Apple iPhone 7 smartphones with the Qualcomm modem are capable of faster LTE downloads, but it seems Cupertino is intentionally reducing these speeds. According to a report in Bloomberg, Apple iPhone 7 devices running on Verizon network in the US are capable of delivering faster speeds than those on AT&T. But research from Twin Prime Inc shows they are performing at the same speeds.
Bloomberg quotes Gabriel Tavridis, head of product at Twin Prime as saying, “The data indicates that the iPhone 7 is not taking advantage of all of Verizon’s network capabilities.” He adds that it looks like Apple has not enabled certain features of the chip.
However another report in Re/Code which quotes sources says Apple has a perfectly good reason for doing this: To ensure a similar and uniform experience for iPhone 7 users regardless of the network. The report points out that the Verizon version might be superior, but it is not working at its full “potential,” for uniformity of experience.
An Apple spokesperson had also issued a statement on the Bloomberg report saying all devices meet their quality and standard tests, and “there is no discernible difference in the wireless performance of any of the models.”
Even analysts admit the reason for Apple is to do this is to offer a uniform experience across the board. An earlier report from Cellular Insights, which had released in October, had also shown the Qualcomm chip to be outperforming the Intel one. The report said iPhone 7 devices powered by Qualcomm did 30 per cent better in performance, and 70 per cent better in terms of signal strength compared to the Intel ones.
Cellular Insights had done the tests on the iPhone 7 devices in three different LTE bands in the US. In its report, the research firm wrote, “In all tests, the iPhone 7 Plus with the Qualcomm modem had a significant performance edge over the iPhone 7 Plus with the Intel modem. We are not sure what was the main reason behind Apple’s decision to source two different modem suppliers for the newest iPhone.”
For now, the controversy is on whether Apple was right to scuttle the performance of the faster Qualcomm modem. However analysts told Recode this was the right decision to ensure an equal performance for iPhone across network carriers. Also it is not unusual for manufacturers to limit the potential of a component and there are variety of reasons for choosing to do so.