iPhone X Devices from Verizon Have the Best LTE Performance

Network speeds aside, iPhone X devices through Verizon have slightly better LTE performance than those bought from T-Mobile or AT&T, according to a new report.

Wireless signal testing firm Cellular Insights conducted a test to simulate LTE performance on various models of the iPhone X. The firm used professional measurement equipment to simulate LTE performance at varying distances from the nearest cellular tower. The company shared their findings with PC Magazine.

What they found is, essentially, iPhone X devices equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X16 wireless modem got consistently better LTE speeds than iPhone X devices using Intel’s XMM7480 wireless modem. Again, this performance is modem-based and has nothing to do with the network’s actual speed.

Cellular Insights did note that the difference was especially noticeable in very weak signal areas, but added that the LTE speed gap between Intel’s and Qualcomm’s modem for the iPhone X was narrower than the gap for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. PC Magazine speculated that Apple could be intentionally sabotaging the Qualcomm modem to have that narrower gap, but that’s a whole other story (for a bit of context, read up on the torturous legal battle between the two firms).

How To Tell Which Kind of Modem Your iPhone Has

Cellular Insights’ findings basically boils down to this: if the absolute best LTE performance is a high priority to you, you’ll want to opt for the iPhone X model with the Qualcomm modem. Of course, for many users, they might not have a choice. Here’s why: Apple offers the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus in two models everywhere but Japan.

  • The A1865 with the Qualcomm modem is available for CDMA networks, like Verizon or Sprint. That means it’s not compatible with AT&T or T-Mobile. (An additional caveat here is that Sprint’s network isn’t currently able to access the Qualcomm modem’s highest LTE speeds, so the best performance is limited to Verizon subscribers).
  • The A1901 iPhone X with the Intel modem, on the other hand, supports GSM networks like AT&T and T-Mobile. Basically, if you purchased an iPhone through AT&T and T-Mobile, your device has the slower modem.

The fact that the CDMA-compatible Qualcomm modem is faster bodes well for Verizon users, as the network was recently named the fastest in the U.S. An iPhone X with a Qualcomm modem on Verizon’s network has, theoretically, the best LTE speed and performance among any network-iPhone combination.

Of course, for AT&T and T-Mobile subscribers, Apple does sell an unlocked SIM-free A1865 in many other countries, and it’ll start selling that device in the U.S. soon enough. If top LTE speeds matter to you, it might be smart to hold off on getting a new iPhone until it does.

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