The main form of Internet connection on our smartphones when we are at home is Wi-Fi connectivity. Currently with the speeds of fiber optics, we can have connections of symmetrical 600Mbps, symmetrical 1Gbps and even higher modalities. Do we really need that much WiFi speed on our smartphone? Today we are going to explain the theoretical maximum speed that they are capable of achieving, the real speed that we usually achieve and what would be the minimum speed to use the smartphone without any problem.
Theoretical and real speed that we can achieve
The theoretical speed that we can achieve with a smartphone is the synchronization speed of the internal WiFi card with our home router or AP, however, this theoretical speed is not the real speed that we actually achieve when doing a speed test, since theoretical speed is determined by several factors, including the following:
- Wi-Fi version (mainly Wi-Fi 4, Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E). We must bear in mind that most high-end mobiles have Wi-Fi 6 and even Wi-Fi 6E, so we can achieve very good wireless performance.
- Number of internal antennas of the smartphone. Generally, low-medium range models have only one internal antenna, so it will only be in 1T1R MIMO configuration. In the case of mid-high range models we will have two internal antennas, so we will get twice the speed of the first ones.
- WiFi channel width used. In the 2.4GHz band we can only use 20MHz or 40MHz channel widths, however, in 5GHz and 6GHz we can use 80MHz and even 160MHz channel widths if the router or AP supports it. If you want to use 160Mhz channel width on a smartphone, your WiFi controller must also support it.
- QAM modulation used in the wireless link. This depends mainly on the coverage received (RSSI) by the device, the further away we are, the more conservative the modulation will be to avoid data loss.
For example, suppose we have a Wi-Fi 6 dual-band router AX3000, that is, two antennas in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, so we can get up to 574Mbps in the 2.4GHz band and up to 2402Mbps in the 5GHz band since it supports 160MHz of channel width. If our smartphone also has Wi-Fi 6 technology, has two internal antennas and supports 160Mhz channel width, when connecting to the 5GHz band it will have a synchronization speed of 2.4Gbps. In the event that it is not compatible with the 160MHz channel width, it will synchronize at a speed of 1.2Gbps if we are close to the main router. Finally, if it doesn’t even support the Wi-Fi 6 standard, then it will sync at a speed of 866Mbps only. The approximate real speed that we will achieve is the following:
- 2.4Gbps Sync: Actual speed is around 900-1100Mbps.
- 1.2Gbps Sync: Actual speed is around 750-900Mbps.
- Synchronization at 866Mbps: the actual speed will be around 500-600Mbps.
Of course, if our smartphone only has one antenna, these sync speeds and actual speeds will be about half that.
Whenever we have a wireless link, it is normal to have between 60-75% of the theoretical speed that our smartphone marks us, although this will also depend on many factors such as the distance to the router or AP, interference with neighboring networks, and even the WiFi controller and the software of our mobile, since there are some models that manage to squeeze the speed of the WiFi better than others.
What WiFi speed is appropriate?
Depending on the use that we are going to give to the wireless connection of our smartphone, we will need some speeds or others. Basic use of the Internet and the local network is not the same as transferring files to a NAS server that is installed locally in our home. In the latter case, the more Wi-Fi speed the better, but locally, because in this case it doesn’t matter what Internet speed you have, you just have to look at the synchronization speed of the device. Next, we are going to give you an approximate guide of the real speed that you should have on your smartphone to carry out different actions:
- 50Mbps to 100Mbps: basic use of the Internet connection and local network, we can play streaming video in Full HD resolutions without any problem.
- 100Mbps to 200Mbps: intermediate use of the connection, we can play streaming video in 4K and even download games at a very good speed.
- 200Mbps to 400Mbps: With this speed we can do almost anything, including backups to a NAS server, however, it would be recommended that they not be too large files.
- More than 400Mbps: we can transfer data at high speed locally, and also on the Internet if we have such fast connections.
Getting up to real 400Mbps with a high-end smartphone is easy as it incorporates two antennas in most cases, however, in low or mid-range models it will be very complicated, because they generally have only one antenna. We must also take into account the number of antennas and even the Wi-Fi wireless standard that they support, because the speed that we are going to be able to achieve will depend on it.