Apple iPhone 7s using Verizon should be faster than those on AT&T: The different networks require different modem chips, one slightly faster than the other. Yet researchers have found that they perform more or less the same.
It could mean that Apple has “chosen to not enable certain features of the network chip,” a researcher from Twin Prime told Bloomberg.
The iPhone 7 on the Verizon network uses Qualcomm’s X12 LTE modem, the same chip Samsung uses in the Galaxy S7. The modem is capable of download speeds up to 600Mbps, which translates to downloading a 3GB movie in 42 seconds.
In Twin Prime’s tests, which were based on more than 100,000 phones downloading an image, the Galaxy S7 was about twice as fast as the iPhone 7. The Verizon model still performed slightly better than the AT&T variant, but fell far short of its full potential. That led the researchers to believe Apple is balancing out the speeds to keep carriers happy, according to Bloomberg.
The AT&T iPhone 7 variant uses an Intel modem, which is capable of downloading at only around 450Mbps. It’s one of the reasons why we recommended buying a Sprint or Verizon model, because the device would be carrier-unlocked. Buying from T-Mobile or AT&T would mean your iPhone 7 would not work on Sprint or Verizon. But why is Apple using different chips at all?
Bloomberg suggests it was to keep “component costs in check.” Apple may also be trying to get a better price, and this move may have purely been a negotiating tactic.
If true, it’s not good for consumers — Verizon subscribers aren’t seeing those 600Mbps speeds, and AT&T customers have the short end of the stick with a lower-tier modem.
Apple did not respond to our request for comment.