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When it comes to cellular performance, the iPhone XS and XS Max are significantly faster than the lower-priced iPhone XR.
All three devices feature the same Intel XMM7560 modem, but the two OLED handsets have additional antenna branches. In other words, the iPhone XS and XS Max are 4×4 MIMO devices, while the iPhone XR is a 2×2 MIMO phone.
As a result, you can expect the iPhone XS and XS Max to perform a lot better when connected to 4×4 MIMO cellular networks. But PC Mag put all three devices — and last year’s iPhone X — to the test and found some surprising results.
When connected to LTE Band 4, one of the most common bands used in the U.S., the iPhone XS and XS Max both reported significantly faster download speeds than the iPhone XR.
In fact, the iPhone XR performed similarly to the iPhone X — another 2×2 MIMO device.
It’s a similar story when you focus on weak signal conditions. And, in fact, the iPhone XR actually has very slightly worse performance than last year’s iPhone X models equipped with Qualcomm’s X16 modem.
Not all cellular networks in the U.S. are 4×4 MIMO, however. But while you may expect a 2×2 MIMO device to run just about as well as a 4×4 MIMO device when they’re both connected to a 2×2 MIMO network, that’s not the case.
Both the iPhone XS and XS Max ranked quite a bit higher than the iPhone XR when connected to 2×2 MIMO networks.
Essentially, if you want broad gains in LTE and cellular network performance, you’ll want to opt for the iPhone XS or XS Max. The two OLED handsets, with their 4×4 MIMO technology, perform better than the iPhone XR across the board.
It’s worth noting that these results only apply to cellular performance — such as download or upload speeds.
Benchmark stats have shown that the iPhone XR performs equally as well as the iPhone XS and XS Max when it comes to clock speeds. That’s because all three pack the same A12 Bionic chipset (though the iPhone XR does have one fewer GB of RAM).