It is now clear that a big chunk of iPhones in the USA and Europe have a mixture of Qualcomm and Intel modems. Intel might not have made it to the final iPhone SE but we later confirmed that iPhone 7 and 7 Plus had Intel modems.
The first and most obvious feature that iPhone 7 / 7 Plus Model number A1778 and A1784 is missing is the CDMA. This is a clever Telco lock-in tool for American and China Mobile customers. The Intel based iPhone 7 won’t work on CDMA networks including Verizon or China Mobile. Verizon is the largest provider in the USA while China Mobile is the largest network in China and the largest customer base in the whole world.
AT&T and T-Mobile users can't change the provider and take their iPhone 7s to Verizon because AT&T and T-Mobile don’t have CDMA support.
The iPhone 6S had CDMA and GSM / LTE support and worked across all networks in the USA. Verizon iPhone 7 users will be able to change providers and take their iPhone 7s while AT&T or T-Mobile users won't.
T-Mobile USA launched another new technology – 256 QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) for downloads and 64 QAM for uploads as well as 4x4 MIMO something that Qualcomm modems support, but not Intel. It is easy to assume that 256 QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) for downloads and 64 QAM for uploads will be disabled on T-Mobile Intel based phones, as Intel doesn’t support it.
The Qualcomm modem simply has more features including QAM 64 and QAM 256 relevant for both upload and download. We have also seen lower power consumption on Snapdragon modems compared to the competition too, so your battery life might end up better if you get the Qualcomm powered device.
Many fear that carriers who plan to use both Intel and Qualcomm modems will use the common denominator tactics. Everything that one of the two modems doesn’t support will be disabled in firmware on the other. So to have two devices that will act more of less the same on the same network, carriers will end up crippling the one with the most features.
We don’t really think that Kanye West and his Kardashian lady understand the difference about the iPhone 7 with one of the other modems, as these customers are a part of market that will chose a device based on its colour.
We are thinking of calling this affair the modem wars, as one is clearly better than the other.