What is Wi-Fi6 equipped in iPhone11?


The iPhone11 series was announced on September 11 in 2019. The iPhone11 series has significantly improved camera capabilities and several new features compared to the iPhone Xs series released previous year, including improved batteries and new chipsets.

One of the new features in this iPhone11 series is Wi-Fi6. Wi-Fi for iPhoneXs uses 802.11ac, but on the iPhone11, it became Wi-Fi6 and the name changed completely. What are the features of Wi-Fi6 and what are the benefits compared to the IEEE802.11ac used so far?

This article provides an easy-to-understand explanation of the Wi-Fi6 standards.


Wi-Fi6 was originally named 802.11ax

The iPhone11 has Wi-Fi6 standard, but Wi-Fi for iPhoneXs was 802.11ac. This 802.11ac standard was used by the iPhone a long time ago, and in fact 802.11ac has been applied since the iPhone5 was released in 2012. By the way, 802.11n is used on the iPhone5 before that.

Even though the Wi-Fi standard of 802.xx has been used up to the iPhoneXs, the iPhone11 has a different name “Wi-Fi6” instead of 802.xx. What does this mean?

Wi-Fi is a wireless LAN standard certified by an industry group called “Wi-Fi Alliance”, which is standardized by the international standards body, IEEE (I-Triple-E). WI-Fi can be used anywhere globally after WI-Fi Alliance certifies the interoperability as Wi-Fi standard.

This IEEE standardized IEEE802.11b, IEEE802.11g, IEEE802.11a, IEEE802.11n, IEEE802.11ac,  and IEEE802.ax for each WI-Fi generation and Wi-Fi Alliance originally used the same name as Wi-Fi specification. However the name was changed as follows for users easier to understand the Wi-Fi generation in 2019.


802.11n -> Wi-Fi4
802.11ac -> Wi-Fi5
802.11ax -> Wi-Fi6

Therefore, the Wi-Fi6 standard installed in iPhon11 means 802.11ax, which is the successor to 802.11ac that was installed in iPhoneXs or other major models of iPhones.

By the way, while not much attention is paid to Apple, Apple always tends to have the latest version of Wi-Fi standards. Wi-Fi6 (802.11ax) was still a draft standard and was not standardized yet when iPhone was released, WI-Fi 6 was installed in iPhone11. Also, 802.11ac was first introduced in iPhone5s when the 802.11ac was a draft standard. This is how the iPhone actively supports the latest Wi-Fi standards.


Wi-Fi6 saves power in addition to high-speed communication

What are the features of the new Wi-Fi6 on the iPhone11? Wi-Fi6 has three major features:

Wi-Fi6 Major features

High-speed communication / high-capacity
Power savings
Improved performance during congestion

 To achieve this, several new technologies have been built into Wi-Fi6.

High-speed communication / high-capacity

Wi-Fi6 has a theoretical maximum 9.6Gbps communication speed. The speed of wire optical broadband line is 1Gbps but the speed of Wi-Fi6 is 10 times faster.

In the past, wireless layer were a bottleneck in communication using radios, but in 5G and Wi-Fi6 network, wireless layer is not bottleneck but transport layer would be the bottleneck.

Power savings

Wi-Fi6 has a mechanism to reduce power consumption. Usually, when wireless communication is performed, terminals such as personal computers and smartphones continue to periodically receive incoming signals from Wi-Fi access points at short intervals in order to communicate. Since this received signal continues to be received at all times even in no traffic, the power consumption of the terminal will inevitably be large.

Wi-Fi6 uses a technology called Target Wake Time (TWT) to improve this, allowing you to set the timing for communication between Wi-Fi access point and device in advance, and to significantly reduce the device’s power consumption by making the device free of Wi-Fi transmission and reception (sleeping) during periods of no traffic. This is expected to significantly improve battery life when using Wi-Fi.


Improved performance during congestion

Wi-Fi6 is a standard that is expected not only for use at home, but also for outdoor use, especially in dense areas such as stadiums. Several technologies are used to use Wi-Fi as usual in congestion and one of which is the adoption of a new technology (OFDMA) for sending data. This OFDMA technology is used in 4G LTE and can efficiently communicate data between multiple users.

It also improves the technology (MU-MIMO:Multi User- Multiple Input Multiple Output) that is installed for concurrent connections. Wi-Fi typically allows multiple devices to connect to and communicate with a single access point, but multiple users cannot communicate at the same time. This means that when one user is communicating on one access point, the other user must wait for the user’s communication to finish. This wait time is switched in a very short time, but as the number of users increases, the wait time increases, resulting in slower communication speeds.

MU-MIMO is the technology to solve this problem, and MU-MIMO enables simultaneous communication of multiple terminals. This MU-MIMO is also implemented in 802.11ac but improvements have been made in this Wi-Fi6.

Mu-MIMO in 802.11ac allowed multiple terminals to communicate simultaneously from an access point to a terminal (downlink), but not from a terminal to an access point (uplink). With Wi-Fi6, it is possible to simultaneously communicate with multiple devices even on the uplink. In addition, the number of devices that can communicate at the same time was four in 802.11ac, but it has doubled to eight on Wi-Fi6.

Compared to previous Wi-Fi specification

There are some Wi-Fi specification and the characteristics of each Wi-Fi standard are as follows:

In the past, Wi-Fi has evolved with speed improvement as the first priority, and while theoretical values are now significantly faster, communication quality has deteriorated as users increase to one access point and interference from other radio waves occurs. Wi-Fi6 is expected to improve communication quality and user experience in addition to previous standards, such as improving communication speed, improving the number of simultaneous connections, and supporting power saving.

As shown in the comparison table below, Wi-Fi has significantly improved communication speeds from 802.11ac but frequency band to be used is one of the different between 802.11ac and 802.11ax. 802.11ac certainly had a significant speed improvement, but only 5GHz of frequency was available. 802.11ax supports 2.4GHz as well as 5GHz, and coverage of 2.4GHz is larger than 5GHz, therefore it will be easier to use than 802.11ac in homes and in places where access points are less expected.


Fast, stress-free communication at Home

In order to use Wi-Fi6 features on iPhone11 and other Wi-Fi-powered devices, the Wi-Fi access point must also support Wi-Fi6. However, outdoor free Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi offered by carriers such as Docomo, KDDI, and Softbank are not yet Wi-Fi6-enabled, and Wi-Fi6 is fairly limited.

Access points have already been released from various manufacturers. The iPhone11 series supports Wi-Fi6, so it might be a good idea to purchase a Wi-Fi6 access point as an option for fast, stress-free and comfortable communication.