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Can iPhone Connect to 5GHz WiFi?

5GHz WiFi, WiFi 802.11

5GHz

It wasn’t until early 2016 that the WiFi Alliance actually certified 5GHz devices as “WiFi Certified”, so this technology is still relatively new.

Without getting too technical, IEEE 802.11 is the thing that allows your iPhone to connect to Wireless Local Area Networks (WLAN).

There are actually 17 different versions of this but the most common are 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac. Of these, 802.11 a/ac are compatible with 5GHz WiFi.

2.4GHz vs. 5GHz Speed

There are several things that make 2.4GHz and 5GHz different. The main difference is that 5GHz is faster at closer distances. While 2.4GHz is slower, it does cover more distance.

One downside to 5GHz is the limited range. The 2.4GHz WiFi may have more users, but it allows you to gain access to an access point at further distances. This means to fill larger areas with uninterrupted WiFi, more access points will have to be installed.

Another difference is that fewer people are using 5GHz than they are using 2.4GHz.

As more devices become compatible with 5GHz speed channels, this may change. For now, with fewer people using these channels to connect, it means that they aren’t crowded and that users can use WiFi connections with less interference which should mean faster speeds.

Apple has created a way to cover more distances with 5GHz by placing Captive Apple Portals at popular stores like Starbucks. These allow users to access free fast WiFi wherever they go.

5GHz WiFi, WiFi 802.11

 

5GHz WiFi Model Compatibility

At this point, I am sure you are wondering: Can my iPhone connect to 5GHz WiFi? Or maybe you are using a slightly older model but still hope to reap the benefits of the 5GHz speed. For your convenience, here is a list of all iPhone models and their compatibility.

iPhone Model

Protocol

5GHz WiFi?

iPhone, iPhone 3G/3GS

Wi-Fi 802.11 g/b

No

iPhone 4/4s

Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n (802.11n 2.4GHz Only)

No

iPhone 5/5C/5S

Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n (802.11n 2.4GHz and 5GHz)

Yes

iPhone 6/6 Plus

Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac

Yes

iPhone 6S/ 6S Plus

Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (includes two spatial stream MIMO)

Yes

iPhones SE

Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac

Yes

iPhone 7/7 Plus

Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (includes two spatial stream MIMO)

Yes

iPhone 8/8 Plus

Wi-Fi 802.11 ac (includes two spatial stream MIMO)

Yes

iPhone X

Wi-Fi 802.11 ac (includes two spatial stream MIMO)

Yes


*MIMO stands for Multiple Input Multiple Output. This refers to a device’s ability use the same channel to send and receive more than one data stream at the same time.

5GHz WiFi, WiFi 802.11

 

How to Force iPhone to use 5GHz Connection

If your iPhone is older and compatible with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz, like the 5S, it is not uncommon for it to default to 2.4GHz. This is because when iPhone 5S was released, 5GHz channels where extremely rare.

Even if both are turned on, naturally, your iPhone is going to connect to the stronger connection. If you are close, this should be 5GHz. If it is not connecting to 5GHz even when you move closer, there are options.

To take advantage of the less crowded 5GHz channels, it is possible to force iPhone to use 5GHz connections.

In order to do this, you will have to change the settings on your wireless router. You can do this under the device’s settings, and advanced settings. From there, you can set your router to only use 5GHz channels.

Unfortunately, this method only works if you have access to your wireless router. There are currently no options on the iPhone itself to force the 5GHz connection.

Here is a guide on how to login to your wireless router

Conclusion

Taking advantage of 5GHz WiFi channels isn’t possible with all iPhone models but if you are using an iPhone 5 or higher, it is possible.

If you’re still using an iPhone older than this, you will have to upgrade your phone to be able to use 5GHz WiFi. If this is the case, it is probably time for an upgrade anyways, considering all of the security issues that may exist in unsupported devices.

 

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