Well If you feel like your iPhone 7 is slower than your friend’s, you’re not crazy. There’s a big chance that the model you bought comes with hardware which makes it substantially slower than others, and recent tests show how and why this is happening.
Although you’d expect all iPhone 7 models with the same size to have the same performance, it turns out that they do not, and it’s all because of the hardware that’s being used by Apple. This is why iPhones sold in the United States, for instance, are faster than those sold in Europe, which come with different hardware that proves to be slower. But let’s take everything one at a time to discuss the difference.
Read and write tests
One of the changes that Apple made to the iPhone lineup with the introduction of this year’s generation was the demise of the 16 GB entry-level configuration, replacing it with a 32 GB model.
And while more storage always comes in super handy, there’s a big chance that you’re not going to be pleased with it. Tests performed by Unbox Therapy on YouTube have shown that entry-level iPhone models are substantially slower when it comes to reading and writing data than those coming with more storage.
For example, the tests have determined that a 32 GB iPhone 7 can read data at a speed of 656 Mbps, whereas a 128 GB iPhone 7 does the same thing at 856 Mbps. The difference is huge, and although you might not see it at first glance, it becomes more obvious when comparing the two side by side.
A 32 GB iPhone 7 writes data on the internal memory at 42 Mbps, while the 128 GB version runs the process at 341 Mbps. The difference is shocking and it means that the iPhone 7 with more storage is no less than 8 times faster than the entry-level configuration.
The huge difference continues in the case of modem performance as well, and once again, it’s all because of the hardware that Apple used on the iPhone 7.
There are two different modems, from Intel and Qualcomm, respectively, and it looks like the majority fall in the first category.
This time, tests conducted by Cellular Insights show that there’s a big difference between the performance of an iPhone 7 with an Intel modem and one with a Qualcomm version, with the latter being no more, no less than 30 percent faster.
How is this possible? Cellular Insights explains that in ideal conditions, all models perform pretty much the same, but it all changes when the signal is weaker.
“At -96dBm the Intel variant needed to have Transport Block Size adjusted as BLER well exceeded the 2% threshold. At -105dBm the gap widened to 20%, and at -108dBm to a whopping 75%,” the tests show.
Overall, the Qualcomm modem seems to offer substantially better performance than its Intel counterpart, and for the moment, there’s nothing Apple can do about it. The next-generation iPhone, however, can change this if Apple decides to go for the Qualcomm processor, but this is very unlikely given that this is the more expensive version and Apple probably went for the Intel modem as a cost-cutting measure.
How to tell if your iPhone 7 is faster or slower
Determining if your iPhone 7 is the faster or the slower version is a piece of cake. In terms of storage, this isn’t difficult at all because it says right on the box if you have the 32 GB or the 128 GB version, but you can also go to Settings > General > About and look for the “Capacity” entry that says how much storage you have.
As for the signal strength, it’s also very simple, and it all comes down to model number (which you can find on the back of the iPhone, on the box, or using dedicated hardware information apps):
iPhone 7 models featuring Qualcomm modems are available in the United States, in China and Japan, while the Intel version is sold in the rest of the world. There are also some Intel variants in the United States, but the Intel iPhone 7 can be found at Verizon and AT&T.
How different hardware (and different performance) could impact sales
Unsurprisingly, the markets were Apple’s iPhone comes with Qualcomm hardware are also the ones where the company is recording substantial sales, and statistics provided by App Annie come to confirm this.
China, the United States, and Japan lead Apple’s business in terms of App Store revenue, with China itself generating no less than $1.7 billion in the third quarter. The United States is second with $1.5 billion, while Japan is third with $1 billion in sales.
As far as the sales share is concerned, though, Apple still has a long way to go to compete against rival Android in each of these markets. In the United States, Apple’s iOS is the second mobile platform with a share of 30.9 percent in the 3-month period ending August 2016, while Android is leading the chart with 65.2 percent. In China, Android is number one with 85.9 percent and iOS is the runner-up with 13.5 percent, while in Japan the same rankings are maintained with 66.7 percent versus 31.9 percent shares.
At first glance, Apple’s decision to offer the Intel (slower) modem in 90 percent of the markets is entirely a matter of costs, although after these tests it becomes more obvious that tech-savvy users would love to have a Qualcomm device.
It remains to be seen if Apple decides to change this approach when the next iPhone sees daylight, but in terms of costs, Cupertino clearly doesn’t see any reason to do this.