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If smartphone speed is important to you, iPhones probably shouldn’t be your first choice

Updated Nov 10th, 2022 12:28AM EST
Qualcomm chip speed test
Image: Zach Epstein, BGR

Bad news iPhone fans. Here’s an area where smartphones from rival device makers like Samsung and Google best Apple’s premium device, according to new data from Ookla LLC, which shows that iPhones are lagging behind rivals when it comes to which phones have the most blazing internet speeds.

According to speed-test data reviewed by Bloomberg, Samsung’s Galaxy S9 phones had an average download speed across carriers in the U.S. of 38.9 megabits per second. That’s based on about 102,000 tests over the past three months.

The larger S9+ model bested both the iPhone X and the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 8. The S9+ on average downloaded data at speeds of 38.4 Mbps, with the iPhone X trailing at 29.7 Mbps. Coming in at 29.4 Mbps and 28.6 Mbps were the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 8, respectively.

The Bloomberg data goes on to show Google’s Pixel 2 XL speed performance likewise besting the iPhone’s. The former showed speeds of 33.9 Mbps, with the smaller Pixel 2 coming in at 34.4 Mbps.

For some context, the news service points out that Web speeds aren’t the only important speed-related metric. “Apple’s main processors that control the speed of launching apps, swiping through PDFs and loading games are often recognized as some of the fastest in the industry.

“The slower load times also haven’t noticeably hurt the iPhone against its competition. It’s one of the best-reviewed smartphones in the world, with the latest models constantly outselling the competition. Apple sold more than 216 million iPhones last year and could top that in 2018 given strong interest in new larger and lower-cost models planned to be released later this year.”

Samsung, of course, won the distinction of being the top global smartphone maker last year as ranked by shipments. It shipped more than 317 million units according to IDC data.

Ookla’s data, meanwhile, shows the iPhone X operating faster on Verizon Communications Inc.’s wireless network, with average speeds of 31.5 Mbps. It’s slowest on Sprint’s network, with speeds of 25.1 Mbps.

Chipmaker Qualcomm, meanwhile, put out its take on the numbers today. Its assessment, per 9to5Mac, is that Apple phones that don’t use its chips are slower than competing devices. Apple and Qualcomm, of course, are fighting a legal battle at the moment, with the Cupertino tech giant using Intel modems for some of its phones and not relying on Qualcomm components as much.

Bloomberg points out that Qualcomm’s latest modems are usually faster than Intel-built versions, but “Apple uses software to keep the speeds of the Qualcomm chips closer to that of the Intel devices.”

Looking ahead, it’s also noted that Ookla’s data might factor into buying decisions more next year, when 5G services start to materialize. “Companies that are able to provide phones on those networks earlier may grab market share. Apple has typically lagged behind on such moves, preferring to wait until standards are established and networks fully built out.”

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.