Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is the first phone to support WiFi 6E, but what is it?

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The Galaxy S21 Ultra is Samsung’s latest top-of-the-line flagship smartphone and it’s also the first smartphone in the world to support WiFi 6E connectivity. So what’s the big deal with WiFi 6E and is it significantly better than WiFi 6? Here’s what you need to know.

As revealed by Broadcom, the Galaxy S21 Ultra utilises their BCM4389 chip which boasts WiFi speeds over 2Gbps. This would enable faster file transfers, high-quality 8K video streaming and superior AR/VR experience. It also supports multi-radio Bluetooth 5 which promises a more robust wireless earphones connection even in crowded places. Broadcom also added that this is the world’s first WiFi 6E chip to be certified by the FCC.

Better WiFi on 6GHz

The key difference of WiFi 6E versus the current WiFi 6 is the usage of 6GHz frequency. As a comparison, the current WiFi 6 (802.11ax) uses a combination of 2.4GHz and 5GHz. While 5GHz is pretty good for 4K video streaming, it could soon get congested with the arrival of more wireless devices.

Source: WiFi Alliance

WiFi 6E is designed to unlock the full potential of WiFi 6 by using a higher 6GHz spectrum with a wider 160MHz channel which is double the bandwidth of conventional 5GHz WiFi. The larger bandwidth enables multi-gigabit speeds and it promises to offer significant improvements for both capacity to support more devices with low latency below 1ms. Since it uses a different spectrum, there’s less interference from other legacy wireless devices.

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Source: Broadcom

Of course, the downside will be coverage as higher frequency typically means a smaller WiFi footprint. However, this issue can be solved by setting up a Mesh network at home. According to Broadcom, the 6GHz band is still capable of delivering 1.4Gbps speeds at 7 metres distance even with obstructions.

WiFi 6E is also expected to play an important role to support 5G as it can help to offload traffic from mobile networks. After all, both WiFi 6 and 5G are built on the same foundation of offering high bandwidth, high capacity and low latency. It only makes sense to have a WiFi network that’s capable of offloading traffic from 5G without compromising on experience.

WiFi 6E routers are required

Even if you have the Galaxy S21 Ultra right now, you will still need a compatible wireless router in order to enjoy WiFi 6E. At the moment, most high-end routers in the market are WiFi 6 and you’ll have to wait for a while before WiFi 6E routers become mainstream. A couple of brands including TP-Link and Asus have recently announced new routers with WiFi 6E support but you can’t really buy them just yet in Malaysia.

For now, it is good to know that the Galaxy S21 Ultra is ready for the next generation WiFi and it also supports 5G in both SA and NSA architecture. Unfortunately, commercial 5G deployment in Malaysia has been postponed until the end of 2022 or early 2023. At the moment, the government is focusing on improving and expanding existing 4G networks under the JENDELA plan to serve as a strong foundation for an effective 5G rollout.

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Alexander Wong