Apple kept one of the iPhone 15 Pro Max's biggest upgrades quiet — Download speeds are twice as fast as last year's model

iPhone 15 Pro Max Unboxing - first impressions
(Image credit: Future)

A new study reveals that the iPhone 15 Pro Max provides the fastest cellular download speeds out of any smartphone in 2023 and 96% faster than last year’s iPhone 14 Pro Max.

Ookla’s latest report shows the iPhone 15 Pro Max has a median download speed of 251.37 Mbps in Q3 2023 compared to 127.83 Mbps for the 14 Pro Max in Q2 2023. That’s an astonishing improvement in cellular download speeds. The smaller 15 Pro is also on the list, sitting second to the Pro Max with a median download speed of 227.41 Mbps.

The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max now have Wi-Fi 6E compatibility, which helps with faster Wi-Fi speeds, yet Apple never revealed the cellular modem in the newest models and didn’t touch upon faster 5G speeds in its keynote.

From teardowns, we know that the iPhone 15, 15 Plus, 15 Pro, and Pro Max have the latest Qualcomm X70 modem, although Qualcomm advertises 24% faster 5G speeds, not the incredible 96% we see here.

One thing to note is that the regular iPhone 15 and 15 Plus are not on Qualcomm’s list, which could mean that the A17 Pro chip found in the Pro models has a part to play in this insane speed gain.

It’s also worth noting that external factors like network improvements could play a role here, although it’s impossible to tell based on Ookla’s study.

Furiously fast — iMore’s take

These 5G download speed improvements are remarkable, showcasing that the best iPhones of 2023 bring much more to the table than initially expected. These results are only for the United States, and considering the lack of 5G mmWave in the international iPhone models, it’s unlikely that these speeds could be replicated across the Atlantic.

Still, it’s always exciting to see real-world tests of the latest iPhones that showcase just how improved the brand-new smartphones are compared to their predecessors. More research will be available in the coming months, so we’re likely to have more information about these 5G download speeds and why exactly there’s such an increase in speed despite confirmation as to why.

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John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself.

Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings.

John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019. 

John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit.