When you buy a standard-issue product that was manufactured on some assembly line, the assumption is that every unit coming off the line should be virtually identical. It would be weird if my Ninja Turtle was different from your Ninja Turtle in some sort of meaningful way. As it turns out, though, not every iPhone X is made alike and it doesn’t even have to do with variations or imperfections in manufacturing.

When you choose a different color, you know you’re getting something slightly different. When you choose a different storage capacity, you know you’re getting something slightly different too. But you assume that all the other components in your iPhone X would be identical… except they’re not. Even when you buy from the same carrier.

As it turns out, your iPhone X could come equipped with a baseband modem from Qualcomm or Intel. This is the modem responsible for your cellular connection. The thing is that depending on which modem you get, even if you’re connecting to the same network from the same physical location, you could experience different network speeds.

This is exactly what Speedsmart discovered when they put the Intel and Qualcomm variants up against one another in a speed test. While Sprint and Verizon exclusively use the Qualcomm modem, AT&T and T-Mobile use both the Qualcomm and Intel units.

Based on their tests, the Intel modem outperformed the Qualcomm on both AT&T and T-Mobile.

  • AT&T (Qualcomm): 27.46 Mbps down, 9.31 Mbps up
  • AT&T (Intel): 30.13 Mbps down, 9.64 Mbps up
  • T-Mobile (Qualcomm): 26.54 Mbps down, 8.01 Mbps up
  • T-Mobile (Intel): 33.34 Mbps down, 11.73 Mbps up

Most people aren’t going to notice the difference between 27 Mbps down and 30 Mbps down, but it is notable that there is a noticeable difference at all. For the record, the fastest download speeds were achieved with the Verizon iPhone X at 35.18 Mbps. It uses a Qualcomm modem.

While this is nowhere near as troubling as the green line issue, it may be something worth watching. And we also have to note that this preliminary comparison is based on a small data set and doesn’t account for variability in location, cell signal or LTE bands. We also hear that Apple artificially limited Qualcomm’s modems to minimize differences between the two, so maybe they just went too far and this could be changed with a software update.

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