Apple’s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus with Intel modems fall short in areas where signal strength is relatively weak compared to the models with Qualcomm’s MDM9645M, according to research from Cellular Insights, reports The Register. The iPhone 7 (A1660) and iPhone 7 Plus (A1661) come fitted with a Qualcomm modem, whereas the iPhone 7 (A1778) and iPhone 7 Plus (A1784) are packed with an Intel modem.

Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus Intel
Image source: Apple

Qualcomm chip gives better LTE connections

Apple’s iPhone 7 and Plus are usually powered by either Intel’s XMM7360 modem or Qualcomm’s MDM9645M, and both are assumed to give equal performance in all scenarios. However, the latest research conclusion from Cellular Insights negates this common belief.

The research firm tested the LTE performance of both modems across the three bands, Band 12(10MHz), Band 4(20MHz), and Band 7(20MHz), in the 4×2 MIMO configuration using Transmission Mode 4, notes The Register. The conclusion from the research was that the iPhone 7 models with the Intel modem performed 30% worse on average compared to the Qualcomm-fitted models when there was a weak signal. The Intel model required an adjustment of its Transport Block Size, the reason being that the Block Error rate exceeded 2%, and with a signal of -105dBm, the Block Error rate reached 20%. Further, at -108dBm, it crossed 75%.

“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,” the report said.

In the United States, mobile carriers Sprint and Verizon offer the Qualcomm-powered phones. AT&T and T-Mobile sell Intel-powered iPhones that do not work on the CDMA-operated Sprint and Verizon networks, notes The Register. Qualcomm offers support for all U.S. carriers, and therefore, an unlocked iPhone 7 purchased on the Sprint or Verizon networks can also be operated with on AT&T’s and T-Mobile U.S.’s networks.

Intel aims to make it big in 5G wireless

Meanwhile Intel is looking to foray into the 5G wireless market after seeing the growth of the 3F and 4G mobile wireless markets. This time, the chip maker is looking to be directly involved in the high-speed 5G networks and not just a support partner.

Murthy Renduchintala, head of Intel’s Mobile and Internet of Things Group, said “Clearly Intel was late coming to the party on 4G. But I think at least from a modem perspective, we are now sitting at the party table.”

Renduchintala said that until now, the company had not announced a 5G chip, but it is working in the U.S. and elsewhere with its wireless industry partners.