While staying in our Kanto Tech studio and connecting my new Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ to our router – an Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000, I suddenly found myself staring at my Wi-Fi Signal – WTF is up with the 6 beside the wifi logo?
My internet seemed slightly bit more faster than usual (we have a 100Mbps connection), but maybe I was just assuming because it was “new” technology that I’ve seen on my phone. After researching a bit on this strange new occurrence, I found out more about this whole thing – Wi-Fi 6.
WHAT IS WI-FI 6?
That number beside the wifi logo is called Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6™ – It basically shows that the connected router and device are compatible with WIFI 802.11ax standard. Previously, some of the WIFI standards were labeled as the following:
- Wireless 1 = 802.11b – released in 1999
- Wireless 2 = 802.11a – released in 1999
- Wireless 3 = 802.11g – released in 2003
- Wireless 4 = 802.11n – released in 2009 (popularly known as wireless-n)
- Wireless 5 = 802.11ac – released in 2014 (wireless-ac)
- Wireless 6 = 802.11ax – released in 2019
Previous-generation wireless standards were also labeled as Wireless (+number) standards, but most people never actually used it. However, they seem easier to use, and should be the most simple way to describe WIFI versions moving forward.
WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?
The higher the Wi-Fi version that is enabled between two devices, the faster is the potential data rate transfer. The different between Wi-Fi 5 compared to Wi-Fi 6, could be as high as 40%. This is due to the more efficient data encoding, enhanced performance in environments with multiple devices, and improved power efficiency.
However, don’t expect it to instantly make your internet connection fast, as it still all depends on your internet service provider. Inter-device connectivity, however, is definitely more affected.
Another great feature of higher Wi-Fi numbers, particularly Wi-Fi 6, is the expected longer battery life for the devices. Generally speaking, older versions tend to be “always connected” to the Wi-fi, while devices with Wi-Fi 6, however, have sleep modes, and will automatically detect if the device is not too actively connected to the Wi-Fi. This is especially great if you have multiple devices connected to your phone or laptop, and will drain less power than usual.
Perhaps the best part yet about Wi-FI 6 is the increased performance in environments with multiple devices. Normally, in previous generation Wi-Fi standards, if you’re in a crowded place such as a mall or an airport, the Wi-Fi speed is definitely affected. The main reason really is just congestion – there’s too many devices trying to connect to a few access points.
The technical explanation on how Wi-Fi 6 does this is quite complicated, but in layman’s terms, it improves this issue by providing wider and more efficient channels for data transfer capacity. Think of it as providing a wider highway – the more lanes, the more cars and buses can pass through it.
WILL I HAVE IT?
Unfortunately, not a lot of devices are Wi-Fi 6 compatible just yet. For now, the only connected device we’ve actually used is our router and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+. We’ve also seen some local launches of some routers like the TP-Link Archer AX6000.
The things is – both devices need to be Wi-Fi 6 compatible for the Wi-Fi 6 logo to show up. If your laptop is just Wi-Fi 5 compatible and your router is Wi-Fi 6, it will just connect using Wi-Fi 5. Also, most of these devices are definitely on the more expensive side.
Unless we see more entry-level devices carry the Wi-Fi 6 compatibility, it’s not going to be mainstream anytime soon. We do hope that more devices adopt it quickly, and also skip the confusing 802.11ac, n, b stuff and start using the simpler Wi-Fi naming scheme.
If you have the new Galaxy Note 10+ however, you’re lucky, since it seems to be future-proof enough for future standards already!
AM I MISSING OUT ON A LOT??
No, not really. If you don’t have any complaints about your internet connection, then you shouldn’t have any problem. But, if you do have the opportunity to upgrade to a new device with a higher Wi-Fi standard, then it should definitely have a huge effect on your connection. After all – every second counts!