Apple confirmed limiting iPhone 7 Qualcomm modem to keep performance on par with Intel chip

Posted:
in iPhone edited November 2016
A follow-up report regarding iPhone 7 download speeds confirms Apple is indeed limiting the performance of Verizon/Sprint units with Qualcomm modems to keep parity with AT&T/T-Mobile versions running Intel's new communication package.




Earlier on Friday, Bloomberg sparked a small controversy when it said Apple is intentionally throttling Qualcomm LTE chips to match the performance of slower Intel modems sourced for use on AT&T and T-Mobile wireless networks.

Sources familiar with the matter confirmed Apple's strategy to Re/code, saying the decision to limit Qualcomm modems likely stems from a need for uniformity across the iPhone 7 lineup.

Smartphone manufacturers often source components from different suppliers in a bid to maintain market leverage and keep part prices stable, the report notes. While Apple often orders iPhone components built to its own internal standards and designs, other complex items -- like the LTE modem -- are purchased from industry suppliers.

As a result, a pair of components that serve the same purpose might have different performance metrics. Such is the case with LTE chips made by Qualcomm and Intel. The Qualcomm X12 modem used in Verizon/Sprint iPhone 7 models is capable of speeds up to 600 megabits per second, while the Intel XMM 3360 found in AT&T/T-Mobile variants max out at 450 megabits per second.

Tests from Twin Prime seemingly bear out the on-paper statistics; the firm found the Qualcomm iPhone 7 to be slightly faster than the Intel version. However, Twin Prime noted the same Qualcomm X12 chip is used in the Samsung Galaxy S7, which was found to be twice as fast as the Verizon/Sprint iPhone 7.

As noted by Re/code, Apple's decision to limit Qualcomm's chip is likely a function of supply chain management. Additionally, marketing the same phone with different performance capabilities on competing networks would be a detriment to iPhone's user experience.

"Apple chose to use different modems for leverage and redundancy, and carriers had no real say in that," said Jan Dawson, analyst at Jackdaw Research. "So it would be a little unfair if Apple allowed, say, Verizon and Sprint to say that their iPhone performs better than AT&T and T-Mobile's."

While unconfirmed, Apple might be taking power consumption concerns into consideration in throttling down Qualcomm's chip.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 45
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,414member
    Kind of a hardware version of the issue Steve Jobs explained in his letter about eliminating Flash from iOS...
    caliDeelron
  • Reply 2 of 45
    Not exactly "proof," but I suppose it's plausible.  It's not like Apple advertises the internal components so it is free to "hobble" parts from one supplier to make it behave like parts from another.  I still want to know why it appears that the Galaxy phone can download images twice as fast as the latest iPhone with the same modem.  Could be a bogus test, I suppose.
  • Reply 3 of 45
    By the way the headline is misleading since it implies that Apple confirmed this.  
    Solijfc1138mejsriczroger73ericthehalfbeebdkennedy1002jbdragonretrogustojay-tireland
  • Reply 4 of 45
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    Apple "confirmed "NOTHING!   Total B. S. headline. 
    edited November 2016 calimejsricjbdragonmagman1979jay-tirelandlarryacrowleyDeelronnetmage
  • Reply 5 of 45
    Not exactly "proof," but I suppose it's plausible.  It's not like Apple advertises the internal components so it is free to "hobble" parts from one supplier to make it behave like parts from another.  I still want to know why it appears that the Galaxy phone can download images twice as fast as the latest iPhone with the same modem.  Could be a bogus test, I suppose.
    Oh now you change your tune. 
  • Reply 6 of 45
    If Apple did this it wouldn't be the first time they have crippleWared. FuckYouApple. 
    mdpotduervo
  • Reply 7 of 45
    It appears international customers getting the iPhone 7 are being subjected to the shortcomings of US telecom AT&T...
    mdpotduervoavon b7jony0
  • Reply 8 of 45
    By the way the headline is misleading since it implies that Apple confirmed this.  
    Apple is confirmed, not Apple has confirmed ;-)
    avon b7
  • Reply 9 of 45
    What about the Sim Free version?
  • Reply 10 of 45
    Modems and all chips usually come with undocumented parameters that are accessible only to OEMs. If Apple throttles the Qualcomm chip this is probably because of many hidden variables such as the supported LTE frequencies and protocols, signal strength, error correction schemes and alike... Power may be the least effective reason on that...
    randominternetpersonMax damage
  • Reply 11 of 45
    By the way the headline is misleading since it implies that Apple confirmed this.  
    Apple is confirmed, not Apple has confirmed ;-)
    There's no "is" 
    jbdragonduervonetmageavon b7lolliver
  • Reply 12 of 45
    digitol said:
    If Apple did this it wouldn't be the first time they have crippleWared. FuckYouApple. 
    You're not going to notice any differents in performance. Quit whining.
    jbdragonDeelronnetmagebigcaliwatto_cobralolliver
  • Reply 13 of 45
    If Apple is indeed throttling the Qualcomm chip, it is unlikely to be related to the test showing better performance from the Samsung S7. Throttling down from 600 to 450 megabits shouldn't affect download speeds which are well below that (unless there is some bug or oversight).

    The only way to be sure of the effect of throttling would be to test the two iPhone models on the same network.
    randominternetpersonDeelronwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 45
    Well, with this press release, would it make any Android using this model (or anything newer) from Qualcomm have faster performance than any Apple iPhone..?

    Apple needs to just get back into the business of making high-end devices which substantiate Apple's premium price.   Choosing a chip as a "winner" and then retarding a product to be on-par with another is probably because Intel is paying Apple (or giving them away) to do things like this. 

    Intel couldn't have worse PR than a news release like this.  If true, it'd be difficult to see any phone manufacturer seriously consider "Intel Inside" a flagship phone.
    edited November 2016 brian greennetmage
  • Reply 15 of 45
    I dunno. This sounds terrible.
    Certainly somebody must have published side-by-side with the un-throttled Verizon Galaxy s7, right?
  • Reply 16 of 45
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 1,944member
    I think using the word throttling is incorrect and misleading. 
    randominternetpersoncaliwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 45
    mejsric said:
    By the way the headline is misleading since it implies that Apple confirmed this.  
    Apple is confirmed, not Apple has confirmed ;-)
    There's no "is" 

    jfc1138 said:
    Apple "confirmed "NOTHING!   Total B. S. headline. 
    You must not be a native speaker of English. The caption means "Apple is confirmed limiting  . . ." Which means that "someone else has confirmed that Apple is limiting . . . "

    The reason that you are not seeing "is" in the caption is due to the fact that in news captions or headlines, it is customary to drop modal verbs, which has been a newspaper and magazine tradition for over a hundred years in most English language publications around the world. 
    edited November 2016
  • Reply 18 of 45
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member
    Thanks Intel
    brian greenpscooter63
  • Reply 19 of 45
    I noticed that when I upgraded my Verizon iPhone 7 (which I'm using on AT&T) from 10.0.3 to 10.1, my download speed dropped by almost 50%. I tested my iPhone 7 download speed on ATT right next to my wife's iPhone 6s. I definitely witnessed a dramatic worsening of the download speed after upgrading my iPhone 7 to iOS 10.1, whereas my wife's iPhone 6s, which stayed on iOS 10.0.2, maintained the same download speed. So, I know the issue was not with the cell tower. 

    I was fortunate to have beeen able to downgrade to 10.0.3 the following day, and after the downgrade, the download speed returned to where it was before I upgraded, which is about 120 Mbps on the iPhone 7. 

    I wonder if Apple started throttling Qualcom modems in iOS 10.1.  
    edited November 2016 brian greencpsroduervo
  • Reply 20 of 45
    Nowadays it seems Intel is the limiting factor.
    randominternetpersonbrian greencpsrowatto_cobra
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