Understanding Wifi Types & Capabilities

There are regularly discussions in the community regarding the type of wifi that a phone supports, the capabilities of that wifi, and the confusing naming conventions of wifi versions. The Wi-fi Alliance, recently realized the confusion the naming was having in the market and to try and simpify things, is undertaking a branding strategy to rename wifi types. This is a technical topic, but I’ve tried to simplify below.

First, a brief primer on Wifi frequencies:
When wifi was originally released it ran exclusively at 2.4GHz, in 2009 a new wifi standard was made available that also could utilize new spectrum made available by the FCC at 5.0GHz. The advantage of 5.0GHz is that it is capable of higher speeds and in addition, was (and still is) a far less crowded part of the spectrum, making for lower interference. Not all phones are capable of both frequencies. I’ve listed those capabilities in the 2nd chart below.

Note that while with 5GHz networks maximum speeds are much higher, the signal from these networks does not travel nearly as far as 2.4GHz networks and is much more easily interfered with by walls, appliances, and any object in general. All speeds below are the theorhetical maximum, real-world speeds are often half or less.

Wifi Standards

New Name Old Name 2.4 GHz 5.0 GHz Max Speed
Wifi 1 802.11a X X 54Mbps
Wifi 2 802.11b X 11Mbps
Wifi 3 802.11g X 54Mbps
Wifi 4 802.11n X X 450Mbps
Wifi 5 802.11ac X X 1.3Gbps
Wifi 6 802.11ax X X 3.5Gbps

Phone Capabilities

Phone 2.4GHz 5.0Ghz Wifi 1 Wifi 2 Wifi 3 Wifi 4 Wifi 5 Wifi 6
Alcatel A30 X X X X
Google Nexus 5X X X X X X X X
Google Nexus 6 X X X X X X X
Google Nexus 6P X X X X X X X
Google Pixel X X X X X X X
Google Pixel 2 X X X X X X X
Google Pixel XL X X X X X X X
Google Pixel 2 XL X X X X X X X
Google Pixel 3 X X X X X X X
Google Pixel 3 XL X X X X X X X
Google Pixel 3a X X X X X X X
Google Pixel 3a XL X X X X X X X
Huawei Ascend 5W X X X X
LG K30 X X X X
Moto Z X X X X X X X
Moto Z Play X X X X X X
Moto Z2 Play X X X X X X
Moto Z3 Play X X X X X X
Moto X Pure X X X X X X X
Moto X4 X X X X X X X
Moto E4 X X X X X X
Moto E4+ X X X X X X
Moto E5 Play X X X X X X
Moto G4 X X X X X X
Moto G4 Play X X X X*
Moto G4 Plus X X X X X X
Moto G5 Plus X X X X X X
Moto G5s Plus X X X X X
Moto G6 X X X X X X
Moto G6 Play X X X X X X
Moto G7 Play X X X X X X
Moto G7 Power X X X X X X
Moto G7 X X X X X X
Samsung J3(2016) X X X X*
Samsung J3(2017) X X X X*
Samsung J3 (2018) X X X X X X
Samsung J7 X X X X X X X
Samsung J7 (2018) X X X X X X
Samsung A6 X X X X X X X
Samsung S6 X X X X X X X
Samsung S7 X X X X X X X
Samsung S7 Edge X X X X X X X
Samsung Galaxy S8 X X X X X X X
Samsung Galaxy S8+ X X X X X X X
Samsung Note 8 X X X X X X X
Samsung Note 9 X X X X X X X
Samsung Galaxy S9 X X X X X X X
Samsung Galaxy S9+ X X X X X X X
Samsung Galaxy S10e X X X X X X X
Samsung Galaxy S10 X X X X X X X
Samsung Galaxy S10+ X X X X X X X
Moto E (1st Gen) X X X X*
Moto E (2nd Gen) X X X X*
Moto G (1st Gen) X X X X*
Moto G (3rd Gen) X X X X*
Moto X (1st Gen) X X X X X X X
Moto X (2nd Gen) X X X X X X X

* indicates that while phone can connected to Wifi 4, it can only do so at 2.4GHz

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