Apple lags behind its biggest rivals in mobile download speeds

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iphone x
The iPhone has a disadvantage compared to its rivals.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

When you take into account the build quality, design, hardware features and, of course, mobile operating system, the iPhone is our pick for the world’s greatest smartphone product line. But it’s not no. 1 in everything — as speed tests make clear.

In download speed tests carried out by Ookla LLC, the company behind the Speedtest app and website, the current-generation iPhones lag behind the top smartphones made by both Samsung and Google. This means slower website loading, movies starting more quickly, and higher quality video calls.

Speed test data reviewed by Bloomberg puts Samsung’s Galaxy S9 handset at an average download speed of 38.9 megabits per second in the U.S. That’s an average across all carriers, based on approximately 102,000 tests. The larger Galaxy S9, meanwhile, scored a sightly slower 38.4 Mbps average speed, based on a sample of 169,000 users.

Google’s Pixel 2 XL delivered 33.9 Mbps speeds, while the smaller Pixel 2 managed 34.4 Mbps.

Things take a bit of a dip when it comes to the iPhone, however. The iPhone X, the phone commonly cited as breaking the $1,000 barrier for smartphone pricing, averaged 29.7 Mbps, based on 603,000 tests. Slightly slower were the iPhone 8 Plus (29.4 Mbps) and iPhone 8 (28.6 Mbps.)

Lagging behind its rivals?

That Apple lags behind slightly in this area is no great surprise. It was lampooned recently on yet another of Samsung’s endless series of ads, taking shots at the iPhone. Bloomberg‘s report suggests that, within Apple’s iPhone lineup, there are discrepancies based on who is manufacturing individual components.

For instance, iPhones on Verizon and Sprint use cellular modems made by Qualcomm, while those for AT&T and T-Mobile use modems from Intel. Qualcomm’s newest modems are faster than Intel’s, although Apple uses software to ensure that they run at comparable speeds.

Ultimately, as the report notes, Apple isn’t exactly being hurt by the discrepancy. While Samsung is the company with the fastest handsets and the number one manufacturer in units sold, Apple’s not doing badly, either:

“The slower load times also haven’t noticeably hurt the iPhone against its competition. It’s one of the best-reviewed smartphones in the world, with the latest models constantly outselling the competition. Apple sold more than 216 million iPhones last year and could top that in 2018 given strong interest in new larger and lower-cost models planned to be released later this year.”

Have you noticed your iPhone having noticeably slower download speeds than some of its rivals? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Bloomberg