We test most all of the latest smartphones here on ZDNet and our experiences over the past several years have shown that Qualcomm-based Android smartphones provide better RF reception than Apple’s iPhones. The latest test results from Ookla Speedtest confirm these experiences.
While it might be easy for one company to state it is better than another, these Ookla speed tests were conducted by more than a million user-generated test sessions so there is no company bias in the testing. Qualcomm simply analyzed the results to come up with some interesting findings, including the following.
Compared to non-Android phones based on Intel XMM 7480, Android smartphones with Snapdragon 845 on T-Mobile (480,000 tests) had approximately:
- 53% faster typical download speeds
- 32% lower typical latency
- 103% faster worst-case download speeds
- 97% faster worst-case upload speeds
- 21% lower worst-case latency
Compared to non-Android phones based on Intel XMM 7480, Android smartphones with Snapdragon 845 on AT&T (570,000 tests) had approximately:
- 40% faster typical download speeds
- 20% faster typical upload speeds
- 20% lower typical latency
- 11% faster worst-case download speeds
- 135% faster worst-case upload speeds
- 20% lower worst-case latency
There are different modems currently on Apple’s iPhone models (Intel and Qualcomm). In December, CNET posted on these different modems and stated that things are not equal. When phone signals are weak, Qualcomm modems consistently perform better. As a daily train commuter who travels through weak signal areas, my experiences mirror the results of this study.
Verizon’s iPhone models have Qualcomm modems (AT&T and T-Mobile use Intel), but there has been speculation that Apple throttles back the Qualcomm modem in order to match the performance on Intel. We have also seen articles indicating that Apple may move to using all Intel modems or even create its own in the future.
Most Android smartphones in the US incorporate Qualcomm modems so while the results are comparing wireless modems, if you want the best performance for wireless connectivity then an Android smartphone may be better than an Apple iPhone.
Matthew Miller started using mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host, with ZDNet’s Kevin Tofel, of the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned more than 200 different devices running Palm, Linux, Symbian, Newton, BlackBerry, iOS, Android, webOS, Windows Mobile, and Windows Phone operating systems. His current collection includes a Nokia Lumia 830, Apple iPhone 6 Plus, BlackBerry Passport, Sony Xperia Z3, Microsoft Surface Pro 3, and many more, along with tons of accessories and classic devices like the Apple Newton MessagePad 2100 and Sony CLIE UX50. Matthew can be found on various discussion forums under the user name of “palmsolo”.