Apple denies throttling LTE performance of Verizon iPhone 7

By , Nov 18, 2016

iphone-7

Bloomberg today shared research conducted by Twin Prime and Cellular Insights in a story suggestively headlined “Apple’s Chip Choices May Leave Some iPhone Users in Slow Lane” which asserts Apple may have throttled LTE performance of the Verizon iPhone 7 handsets to make them perform about as well as the AT&T iPhone 7 models.

Apple in a statement shot down the report and denied throttling, insisting there’s “no discernible difference” in wireless performance between various iPhone 7 models.

Research is based on data from more than 100,000 smartphones downloading the same image in large U.S. cities. They ran the same tests on Verizon versions of the Galaxy S7 and the iPhone 7, both of which use Qualcomm’s X12 LTE modem chip.

Samsung’s phone was about twice as fast as the iPhone 7 running on the same network. Furthermore, the Verizon iPhone 7 was “a little faster” than its AT&T counterpart, but “not as fast as it could be.”

Twin Prime’s Gabriel Tavridis thinks that the Verizon iPhone 7 “is not taking advantage” of all of the carrier’s network capabilities, speculating that Apple “could have chosen to not enable certain features” of the Qualcomm chip.

Verizon iPhone 7 LTE speeds

Apple responded with a statement denying throttling Verizon iPhone 7 models:

Every iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus meets or exceeds all of Apple’s wireless performance standards, quality metrics and reliability testing.

In all of our rigorous lab tests based on wireless industry standards, in thousands of hours of real-world field testing, and in extensive carrier partner testing, the data shows there is no discernible difference in the wireless performance of any of the models.

Some of the analysts contacted by Bloomberg suspect Apple may have restrained Verizon edition of the iPhone 7 to ensure a uniform experience across iPhone 7 models.

“They don’t want one version to get the reputation that it is better,” said Jackdaw Research’s Jan Dawson. “If Apple had a guiding principle it’s that they want to make sure customers were having a consistent performance.”

Unlike prior iPhones, the iPhone 7 uses dual-sourced Qualcomm/Intel modems.

Specifically, both “A1778” and “A1784“ models of the iPhone 7 use Intel’s LTE chip which supports AT&T and T-Mobile networks, but not CDMA networks used by Verizon, Sprint and a few other carriers. Qualcomm’s X12 chip, however, is the closest thing to a “worldphone” modem.

As a result, AT&T and T-Mobile GSM iPhone 7 models cannot be used on Verizon and Sprint’s CDMA network while the Verizon/Sprint iPhone 7 (model “A1660”) works on any of the four U.S. wireless networks.

The Qualcomm chip supports LTE speeds of up to 600Mb/s versus 450Mb/s for the Intel chip. Cellular Insights’ Milan Milanovic speculated that Apple didn’t enable a feature of the Qualcomm chip that uses more channels of data simultaneously than its Intel rival in order “to level the playing field between Qualcomm and Intel.”

Another analyst thinks Apple may have de-featured the Qualcomm modem because it would be difficult for them to explain to AT&T why Verizon is offering a superior product.

Is Apple really hobbling the Verizon iPhone 7 by not taking full advantage of the Qualcomm chip’s capabilities? And do they have some sort of incentive to balance the performance of iPhones across U.S. wireless carriers? Anything is possible, but the wording of Apple’s statement leaves little room for speculation.

Other network testing firms that Bloomberg contacted warn that many factors are at play when it comes to measuring LTE speeds reliably. It should also be noted that poor signal strength in areas of weak reception can significantly affect reported LTE speeds.

Then, there are differences in CDMA and GSM radio technologies used by Verizon and AT&T networks, for example. The Verizon iPhone was previously found to perform better in low-signal areas because faster low-signal transfer speeds let it maintain a stronger connection than its AT&T counterpart under similar conditions.

Source: Bloomberg

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  • Zack Morris

    “As a result, AT&T and T-Mobile iPhone 7 models cannot be used on Verizon or Sprint networks, and vice versa.” This isn’t correct. The Sprint and Verizon Iphone 7 phones (A1660) can work on any of the 4 networks. The ATT and Tmobile version cannot. The sprint and verizon phones are the same model that apple sells unlocked without a sim.

    Also, Apple’s response doesn’t seem to refute what bloomberg is saying. Apple just says their testing has shown all models are about the same. Bloomberg is saying they are about the same because apple has allegedly throttled the a1660 (verizon and sprint) version to be consistent with att’s model. Due to apple’s cryptic reponse, I am thinking their is some merit to this. Interesting…

    • Thanks, updated the post t clarify that AT&T and T-Mobile iPhone 7 cannot be used on Sprint and Verizon networks.

  • iBanks

    Those phones that experienced slower net probably had safety mode enabled that does throttle the net to 128kbs through Verizon itself. Not device specific.

    • specht057

      I don’t think so. I have unlimited data and my data speeds are much worse than they were on the 6s plus

  • techfreak23

    Apple took a step back in networking on the 7 by sourcing 2 completely different modems. I understand why they make decisions like that but it sucks that my AT&T 7 can never be used on Verizon as I am considering switching at some point in the next year.

    • 5723alex .

      You should have bought the unlocked version or the Verizon version to use with AT&T.

  • Utsav Bhattarai

    no i unlocked my t-mobile iPhone and while tested; it performed phenomenal with a verizon sim card! won’t trust the news posted here anymore

    • Jimmy1259

      What do you think is phenomenal? I read a post earlier from a person that thought their speeds were great. I told him on AT&T in the rural area I’m in I can get almost 3x faster. Doesn’t mean you’re not affected.

      • Utsav Bhattarai

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/03c9be8312d54d0087448cdf94aa569536dc8b96d7ca2ed9e83d8c3ca003cb49.jpg

        If you read the part in the article which clearly states” As a result At&t and T-Mobile GSM iPhone 7 models…… Wireless networks”, which clearly contradicts to my usage. When I swapped the sim after unlocking my phone, I was able to use phone calls, internet and messages and every thing with out any hiccups. So being able to use my phone normally is what phenomenal for me.

      • Jimmy1259

        Apologies. I thought you meant your download speed was phenomenal.

      • Utsav Bhattarai

        Its all good. Thank you. I believe that download speeds depends in the area you happen to be in like you mentioned earlier.

      • Jimmy1259

        That is true about the area you’re in. Also standing in the same spot at different times of the day can make a difference. My first test showed approx 90 down and around 10 up. Later in the same spot I showed approx 60 down and around 15 up.

      • BasedOnAir

        what about iPhone 6S a1688? Would that work on Verizon?

      • Jimmy1259

        Sorry, but I don’t know.

      • BasedOnAir

        Do you happen to know if a T-Mobile iPhone 6S a1688 will work on Verizon if it’s unlocked?

      • Utsav Bhattarai

        I have been using T-Mobile for years, and Everytime I unlocked any model, my spare Verizon sim has always been the best friend to test the unlock. So answering your question, yes it will.

      • BasedOnAir

        Good to know! Thank you for taking the time to reply.

      • Utsav Bhattarai

        You’re welcome.