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article imageBudget iPhone 7 'eight times slower' than pricier high-end models

By James Walker     Oct 23, 2016 in Technology
Tests have revealed that the cheapest model of Apple's iPhone 7 is as much as eight times slower than the more expensive versions when running some performance benchmarks. It's down to Apple's use of slower storage modules in the low-end phone.
With the iPhone 7, Apple finally put an end to its 16GB storage option after facing criticism from reviewers and customers. The iPhone 7 now comes with 32GB of storage as standard, giving users more space for apps, music and photos.
The higher capacity appears to come at the cost of performance though. Independent testing by GSMArena and Unbox Therapy has demonstrated that 32GB iPhone 7 handsets are significantly slower than their pricier siblings, to the point that owners are likely to notice the difference.
Unbox Therapy's Lew Hilsenteger measured the storage read performance of the 32GB model as being 200Mbps slower than the 256GB version. The two devices achieved 686Mbps and 856Mbps respectively. The gap here is notable but unlikely to have any impact during regular use of the handset.
The real problems are revealed during the write performance test. The 256GB phone clocked in at a respectable 341MB per second. The 32GB model managed just 42MB per second though, eight times slower than the higher-capacity model. This difference could be significant for people who heavily use their phone.
When saving very large files to storage, the 32GB iPhone will take noticeably longer to complete the write than the more expensive versions. This will be particularly noticeable in scenarios such as saving 4K video, one of the iPhone 7's headline features. With just a few minutes of 4K shooting creating file sizes in the multiple gigabytes, an eight times slower write speed will restrict how quickly aspiring cinematographers can create new clips.
Hilsenteger demonstrated the effects of the performance difference in a real-world test. The 256GB iPhone copied a 4.2GB movie from a MacBook in two minutes and 34 seconds. The 32GB model took three minutes and 40 seconds to complete the same transfer.
Apple claims that there is no performance difference between the various iPhone 7 models available. While its website is clearly not accurate, the discrepancies have been attributed to the general characteristics of SSD-based storage.
There does not appear to be an Apple plot to make people spend more on higher-end iPhones. It's well known that larger SSDs tend to significantly outperform lower-capacity ones because they are able to operate more storage channels in parallel. This is what is causing the discrepancies observed during reviewers' benchmarks.
Storage speed isn't the only metric that seems to vary between iPhone 7 variants. Testing conducted by Cellular Insights earlier this week revealed that the models also have drastically different cellular signal strengths. The firm found that model numbers A1778 and A1784 have noticeably poorer performance than model numbers A1660 and A1661.
The former two versions have modems built by Intel while the latter two have Qualcomm chips. Qualcomm is a far more established modem manufacturer than Intel and manufactures the modems inside the majority of modern phones. Intel has only recently entered the space.
According to Cellular Insights, the newcomer's hardware shows between 30 percent and 75 percent worse performance than Qualcomm's, a finding which doesn't bode well for Intel's future mobile efforts. Winning the contract to supply some modems for the iPhone 7 was a significant step forward for Intel, a company that has historically failed to make its presence known in the mobile market. It could lose its foothold altogether if Apple is dissatisfied with its performance.
More about Apple, iPhone, iphone 7, Smartphones, Mobile
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