Intel Modems Hindering iPhone 7 Connectivity


iPhone 7

Apple has a problem on its hand. Apple used Samsung and TSMC to build its SoCs but has chosen to adopt an Intel modem for all of its AT&T and T-Mobile variants of the iPhone 7. Factory-unlocked devices for Sprint and Verizon all use Qualcomm’s modem silicon. According to data gathered By Cellular Insights, both of the devices perform at a comparable level when there is a strong signal present but the device with the Intel modem tails off significantly as the signal weakens.

LTE signal strength ranges from ~-75dBm when measured directly on top of a cellular base site to -120dBm at the edge of coverage as measured by RSRP. The data shows us that the Intel modem cannot sustain the same amount of output as its Qualcomm counterpart especially at the -105dBm threshold. Even more concerning is that at -115dBm the Qualcomm modem is sustaining roughly twice the network throughput on the same signal strength as the device carrying the Intel modem.

Users can hold on to hope that Apple will come out with a software update that will improve the Intel modem’s performance but for now the factory-unlocked version of your iPhone is your best bet for LTE performance in an area with marginal LTE coverage. Intel won the iPhone 7 sweepstakes but that was predicated on the assumption that the Intel and Qualcomm modems would offer equal performance. As of right now it looks like Apple made a mistake in switching over to Intel in regards to the modem.

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