Apple does not throttle data speeds on iPhones and iPads for carriers

Carrier update

Yesterday, Joseph Brown, the developer of hacked carrier updates for AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint that allegedly increase data speeds, had published a detailed report, which claimed that Apple is  throttling data speeds on the iPhone and iPad for carriers.

AnandTech investigated this claim and has found that Apple does not throttle data speeds on the iPhone and iPad.

Apple doesn’t limit cellular data throughput on its devices — there’s both no incentive for them to do so, and any traffic management is better off done in the packet core of the respective network operator rather than on devices. Sideloading tweaked carrier bundles isn’t going to magically increase throughput, either.

AnandTech notes that the allegation that iPhone 5 is being artificially capped to HSDPA Category 10 (16 QAM single carrier – 14.4 Mbps) even though it is capable of Category 24 (64QAM dual carrier – 42 Mbps) is not accurate as the values in the carrier.pri file is only applicable for iPhone 4S, which is capable of up to Category 10 on the downlink. The site notes that in case of the iPhone 5, the values are overridden in the appropriately named ‘overrides_N41_N42.plist’ file. They go on to explain that the User Equipment (UE) speed category is irrelevant.

This is actually entirely moot however, as the UE doesn’t decide what capabilities it attaches to the network with, it merely exposes them in a message sent to the network on attach, which then decides what to negotiate. In the case of AT&T in the USA, that’s Category 10 basically everywhere. I’ve never ever seen HSDPA Category 14 (64QAM – 21.1 Mbps) ever on AT&T’s network, though this is a continually debated subject with enthusiasts, I’ve been told repeatedly AT&T has no desire to go any further, and certainly none to deploy dual carrier. So your HSDPA Cat 24 handset attaches as Cat 10 on HSPA+ either way, but Apple sets it to the full capabilities of their handset.

The site concludes that Apple doesn’t limit their devices in any of the carrier bundles they’ve distributed for network operators.

Some of our readers have also pointed out that they’re seeing download speeds well over 14.4Mbps on AT&T and Verizon’s network, which indicated that the claim wasn’t true. Joeseph has also deleted the blog post.

As we mentioned yesterday, it was hard to believe Apple was throttling data speeds on the iPhone and iPad as it is one of the few handset vendors which limits operator customizations.

Please head over to AnandTech’s website for the technical details.