All modern smartphones have a modem chip that, in layman’s terms, allows them to connect to the internet.
These modems are, of course, made by different manufacturers. For example, Apple sources its broadband iPhone modems from both Qualcomm and Intel.
At this point, you’re might be wondering which manufacturer modem your own Apple iPhone model sports. And while the answer is seemingly a bit arbitrary, it’s also a pretty easy thing to find out.
- 1 Newest iPhone models exclusively use Intel modems!
- 2 Older iPhone models include Intel AND Qualcomm modems
- 3 How to Find Which Modem Your iPhone Has
Why This Matters
Normally, the supplier that creates the specific components within your iPhone probably isn’t the first thing on your mind. And for most components within the device, it isn’t that big of a deal. But an iPhone’s modem is a slightly different story.
Cellular Insights, a consumer tech organization that performs analysis of device performance, ran a series of exhaustive tests on the iPhone X to see which LTE modem — Qualcomm’s or Intel’s — is faster.
What the group found was that Qualcomm is still outpacing Intel in terms of LTE speeds. That’s been the case for a while, and although Intel is catching up, the simple truth is that Qualcomm chips are just faster. At least, for now.
Additionally, many folks using older model iPhones (X and below) find that the Qualcomm modems offer faster and more stable performance. Qualcomm modems also apparently perform better in areas where the signal is weak.
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Newest iPhone models exclusively use Intel modems!
First up, all iPhone 11 models (11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max) and all iPhone XS/XR models include LTE modems from Intel rather than Qualcomm.
And the new iPhone SE (second generation introduced in 2020) also includes Intel modems.
Older iPhone models include Intel AND Qualcomm modems
Using the iPhone X as an example, there are actually three variants of the smartphone available — and that isn’t including different colors or storage configurations. In fact, which variant you have has to do with the carrier that you purchased your iPhone through.
The reason different carriers get different modems stems from the fact that there are two leading cellular broadband standards: CDMA and GSM.
- In the U.S., AT&T and T-Mobile use the GSM standard.
- Verizon and Sprint, on the other hand, use CDMA.
Here’s how the variants break down in terms of the modem they have, and what networks they’re tied to.
- iPhone X Model A1865 – This model of iPhone uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X16 LTE modem for CDMA networks, such as Verizon and Sprint.
- iPhone X Model A1902 – This iPhone X also uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 LTE modem, but is only sold in Japan.
- iPhone X Model A1901 – This model uses Intel’s XMM 7480 modem — which is GSM-based. As such, it’s the iPhone model you’ll get if you bought your device through AT&T or T-Mobile.
How to Find Which Modem Your iPhone Has
The easiest way is to find out which modem your iPhone has (for those in the U.S.) is this: ask yourself which carrier you use, and refer back to the list above.
Of course, it’s not always that simple — particularly if you bought your iPhone secondhand or unlocked directly from Apple.
And while CDMA devices are permanently tied to their particular carrier, GSM devices can be manually unlocked and transferred to other networks.
With that in mind, here’s how to find out which iPhone model you have
- Launch Settings
- Tap on General, then About
- Tap Model Number to see information–tap it twice to see all the info
- If you don’t see Model Number here, scroll down and tap on Legal.
- From here, you’ll see the model number (such as in the image below, which, for the record, is for an iPhone SE 1st generation).
- For an iPhone X, if it reads A1865, you have a Qualcomm modem. If it’s A1901, it’s an Intel modem.
We hope that you found this quick tip helpful.
Please let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or additional insight around the performance of the modems.
Mike is a freelance journalist from San Diego, California.
While he primarily covers Apple and consumer technology, he has past experience writing about public safety, local government, and education for a variety of publications.
He’s worn quite a few hats in the journalism field, including writer, editor, and news designer.