iPhone XS LTE performance has been a popular topic since Apple originally unveiled the device last month. Both the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max antenna now feature 4×4 MIMO – a first for the iPhone – but some users have reported issues with LTE connectivity on the new devices.

Now, PCMag has put the iPhone XS Max through a series of speed tests in an attempt to offer more details on the device’s performance.

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PCMag first offers some technical details on its testing process:

Our tests used a 20MHz channel of Band 4, which is used by AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and the major Canadian wireless carriers, and attenuated an LTE signal from a strong -85dBm until the modems showed no performance.

The tests pitted the iPhone XS Max against last year’s iPhone X with an Intel modem, as well as the Qualcomm-powered Galaxy Note 9 and Google Pixel 2.

In comparison to the iPhone X, the iPhone XS Max offers much faster performance thanks to its antennas, which now support 4×4 MIMO. In PCMag’s testing, the iPhone X averaged right around 200Mbps download speeds, while the iPhone XS Max averaged just under 400Mbps – both under good signal conditions. That’s a dramatic iPhone XS LTE performance bump compared to last year’s model.

iphone XS LTE performance

As signal conditions worsen, the iPhone XS Max is still able to hold its ground, though it is very, very slightly outdone by the Qualcomm-powered Pixel 2 and Note 9. This, PCMag explains, shows that the iPhone XS Max is very “well tuned” for low-signal situations.

Let’s zoom in on very weak signal results. At signal levels below -120dBm (where all phones flicker between zero and one bar of reception) the XS Max is competitive with the Qualcomm phones and far superior to the iPhone X, although the Qualcomm phones can eke out a little bit more from very weak signals.

These tests, however, were all done inside a lab. In terms of real-world performance, the iPhone XS comes in at about 6.6Mbps faster than the iPhone X, PCMag says, citing data from Ookla’s Speedtest Intelligence database.

In real-world testing, the Galaxy Note 9 is able to slightly outperform the iPhone XS, averaging 43.2Mbps compared to the iPhone’s 38.9Mbps.

As for the users who are having signal issues with their iPhone on iOS 12, PCMag’s testing shows that it’s all tied to the software. As you can see in the chart below, iPhone X units running iOS 12 seems to suffer from some sort of software-released issue when signal strength is weak.

For Apple, the iPhone XS marks the first time it has completely ditched Qualcomm modems for Intel. These tests are certainly good news for customers who were worried the transition would bring slower LTE performance for customers. Apple and Qualcomm are engaged in a fiery legal battle, that doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon.

What sort of iPhone XS LTE performance are you seeing? What about on your iPhone X with iOS 12? Let us know down in the comments!


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