Your smartphone now does all kinds of witty things including streaming Full HD or 4K video from your media player such as Kodi or Plex via your home wireless router. But for it to stream high quality video content or play intensive games, your smartphone should be capable of handling high data speeds.
Most smartphones in the market come with WiFi standard built-in. The most common is based off IEEE 802.11 b/g/n which transmits on the 2.4Ghz frequency spectrum. It’s capable of boosting speeds between 54Mbps, 450 Mbps or 600 Mbps. These speeds are dependent on the model of your router and how its configured.
But now, WiFi 802.11ac is beginning to be the norm. Devices which include wireless routers, tablets, laptops and smartphones that support this wireless standard boast of speeds close to 1 Gbps on 5GHz unlicensed frequency spectrum. This is also the reason why WiFi 802.11ac also now called WiFi 5 is also called Gigabit WiFi.
Some devices support dual-band mode which means they can switch between the old slower but longer range 2.4GHz band and the faster and newer 5GHz frequency bands. Usually you have the option of selecting which band you wish to connect to manually or you can let the device do it for yourself automatically which the default option.
Related post: 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz: Which Wi-Fi band should you use?
To know whether your smartphone supports the faster Gigabit WiFi, check the official device specifications for your smartphone. These are usually printed on the back of the smartphone box that came with the device. Under wireless connectivity column check for symbols with 802.11ac or WiFi 5 or sometimes you will see WiFi 5G. Alternatively you can Google the phone specs of your smartphone online from websites such as this or gsmarena.com.
Lastly remember that the network you are connecting to MUST also support Gigabit WiFi too. This usually means the Access Point or the wireless router your phone is connecting to should also support Gigabit WiFi standard.
Normally most routers will simply broadcast a single SSID or WiFi name without splitting it into 2.4Ghz or 5 Ghz bands unless you own or manager the WiFi network. If you do, then you can check if your smartphone shows both bands under WiFi settings. If it doesn’t, your phone will simply use the older WiFi IEEE 802.11 b/g/n which transmits on 2.4 GHz frequency in which case speeds will also be slower.
Now in 2019 WiFi 6 or 802.11 ax is on the horizon. So far the latest iPhone 11 and Samsung Galaxy S10 are some of the smartphones supporting the next generation of WiFi. It’s a bit too early for you to want WiFi 6 on your next device but WiFi 5 is a must for today’s devices.