It turns out that not all iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models are created equal. Some models have a certain LTE modem while others have a different one. Normally this isn’t a huge concern as Apple occasionally sources different manufacturers for different parts. But in this case, it appears that iPhones with a particular LTE modem are noticeably faster than iPhones equipped with the other.
The modems come from either Qualcomm or Intel. The Qualcomm modem works with GSM and CDMA networks while the Intel one works with GSM only. According to tests from Cellular Insights, the Intel one is a bit slower especially as your distance from the cell tower increases.
If you’re curious to find out whether you have a “faster” or “slower” iPhone 7 model, here are two methods for doing so.
Option 1: Find Your iPhone’s Model Number On Your Own
To determine whether you have the Qualcomm modem or Intel, you need to find your iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus model number. It’s buried in Settings. First open that up and go to General settings.
Tap About at the top.
Then scroll all the way down and tap Legal.
Lastly, tap Regulatory.
At the very top in small print you should see your model number. If your model number is A1660 or A1661, you have the faster Qualcomm modem. If your model number is A1778 or A1784, you have the slower Intel modem. Sorry to potentially ruin your day.
Option 2: Have an App Do the Work for You
If you don’t feel like digging through the Settings or perhaps already have a device statistics app, you can use one to pull up this information for you. The app that I found the easiest to use is Lirum Info Lite, free. (There is a paid version of the app too, but for this purpose you don’t need it.)
Launch Lirum Info and tap the menu at the top left. Then choose This Device.
Tap General and right there, your model number is laid out for you. Again, A1660 and A1661 correspond to the faster Qualcomm modem. A1778 and A1784 correspond to the slower Intel modem.
Just bear in mind now that you have this information, it won’t do you much good to obsess over it. The difference in speed is only going to be noticeable if you compare two iPhone 7s with different modems side by side. Rest assured, your new iPhone is still one of the fastest — if not the fastest — smartphones on the market.