Poor internet connections on iPhone 7 Plus smartphones has been blamed on Intel modems that are fitted in some devices instead of Qualcomm components, according to research from Cellular Insights.
Only models sold in China, Japan and the US come with more tried and trusted modems made by Qualcomm, meaning that iPhone 7 Plus users in the UK will be affected by Apple's decision to source modems for the device from Intel.
Indeed, Qualcomm has been the sole supplier of modem technology to Apple for the past five or so years, but Apple brought in Intel to provide modems on the iPhone 7 Plus, launched this summer, in a bid to diversify its supply.
Cellular Insights pointed out that Apple's decision to use Intel represents the chip maker's first major modem design win in some time and may even be a ‘make or break' moment for Intel's mobile modem business. And most of the world has been supplied with iPhone 7 Plus units bearing the Intel rather than the Qualcomm part.
The analyst firm acquired a number of iPhone 7 Plus devices from different sources and ran a series of tests at different LTE bands. The results showed that, across the range of devices, the iPhone 7 Plus offered similar network performance under ideal conditions, regardless of which modem it came with.
However, as the network conditions were reduced, the iPhone 7 Plus devices with the Intel modem deteriorated at a faster rate than the iPhones with the Qualcomm modem.
"Most of the time mobile operators get blamed for dropped calls or session timeouts, but it's often forgotten that the phone OEM's implementation of baseband, RF front-end and the antenna design could play its role," said Cellular Insights' technical report.
"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. We are not sure what was the main reason behind Apple's decision to source two different modem suppliers for the newest iPhone.
"Considering that the iPhone with the Qualcomm modem is being sold in China, Japan and in the US only, we cannot imagine that modem performance was a deciding factor."
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