Is WiFi 6 Backward Compatible

Products and devices that support the most recent 802.11ax Wi-Fi standard are industrially certified as Wi-Fi 6 routers/devices.

When Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) came into the limelight in January 2014, a lot of customers upgraded their devices and got a large array of Wi-Fi 5 accessories owing to its many upgrade advantages.

However, with the invention of Wi-Fi 6 devices, a lot of users have been under pressure to upgrade their devices. Slow down, there is no need to put yourself under pressure to get new Wi-Fi 6 devices, especially if you are using the previous Wi-Fi 5 products and you don’t have too many bucks to spare. Don’t worry, you can use Wi-Fi 6 devices with older wireless models. Wi-Fi 6 is backward compatible.

We are not against you upgrading your devices to the latest wireless model. Even if you want to, you can take it one step at a time, replacing a few devices until it is convenient to change entirely to Wi-Fi 6. Wi-Fi 6 works perfectly with older devices.

However, there might be some mild disadvantages to using Wi-Fi 6 with older models. We majorly concentrated this blog post on answering the question – Is Wi-Fi 6 backward compatible?

We also included other important information about Wi-Fi 6 that will improve your overall wireless experience. Let’s start with the basics:

Wifi 6 Compatible Mesh Wifi System

What is WiFi 6 Network?

Wi-Fi 6 is the most recent wireless standard, replacing Wi-Fi 5 as the fastest wireless standard with better connectivity features. Since its inception in 2019, Wi-Fi 6 has brought significant improvement and better wireless overall performance to featured devices.

With Wi-Fi 6, you can enjoy an improved bandwidth connection and an impressive speed for multiple connected devices with no Wi-Fi boosters.

Is WiFi 6 backward compatible?

A lot of reports are flying around. However, we are still of the opinion that Wi-Fi 6 is backward compatible.

By backward compatible, we mean that Wi-Fi 6 works with older wireless standards. However, this does not mean that it supports Wi-Fi 5 and previous Wi-Fi models.

There is no need to get confused. We will clarify this statement in a jiffy:

While you can use Wi-Fi 6 devices with Wi-Fi 5, your device will run at a Wi-Fi 5 speed and you cannot enjoy all the additional benefits that come with using a Wi-Fi 6 device.

The Wireless standard Wi-Fi 6E is a step ahead of Wi-Fi 6 as it supports the 6GHz wireless frequency, which translates to reduced network interruptions and improved speed.

While Wi-Fi 6 is backward compatible with Wi-Fi 5, the Wi-Fi 6E router is also backward compatible with Wi-Fi 6 and older Wi-Fi standards. However, you would need Wi-Fi 6E devices to access its 6GHz frequency.

Wi-Fi 5 standard device is not a poor start, it is also backward compatible with older wireless standards like 802.11n, 802.11g, 802.11b, 802.11a. However, the Wi-Fi 5 can only run the 5 GHz band, which is fast but susceptible to lower wavelengths.

Is Wi-Fi 5 backward compatible?

Since we have established that Wi-Fi 6 is backward compatible, you might still have the question, Is Wi-Fi 5 backward compatible?

Yes, Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) is also backward compatible as well. When Wi-Fi 5 came into the limelight in January 2014, it displaced older wireless standard devices. However, users, we’re still able to use 802.11ac with older wireless models like 802.11n, 802.11g, 802.11b, and even 802.11a.

Best Wi-Fi 6 Router

With the wave of Wi-Fi 6 routers that have hit the market, you may have a hard time selecting the best Wi-Fi 6 router. Below are some basic criteria that will help you select the best from the rest:

The layout of Your Space

There are basic questions that you need to ask yourself before making a Wi-Fi 6 router choice. One of which is how is the setup of your space? Are there lots of corners around?

If the answer to this question is yes, then you risk having dead spots around your space with the wrong router choice. A mesh router system would be perfect to extend wireless coverage to all the corners of your home. The number of units that you would need now depends on how large your home setting is.

Your Home Size

Consider the size of your apartment to choose the best Wi-Fi 6 router. Small-sized apartments might not require much planning. However, if you own a large building with many floors, then you might need a better wireless range and you can get that from a mesh router.

Number of People in Your Network

If you have many people regularly connecting to your network, then you need to get a router that can power all your devices conveniently at any speed pause, or lag. You should select a router that can put up with all your devices by checking for its device compatibility.

Your Average Data Consumption

Different internet activities require different internet data consumption. For light internet activities like browsing online content or sending emails, you need little internet data. However, to stream 4k videos or play online action games, you would require plenty of internet data. Now, if you do more of the latter, a Tri-band router will be your best bet.

Some of the best Wi-Fi 6 routers that you can get include:

  • TP-Link Archer AX21
  • ASUS RT-AX86U  
  • Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500
  • Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6E RBKE963
  • Netgear Orbi AX6000
  • TP-Link Deco W7200

Advantages of WiFi 6

Better Connectivity

Wi-Fi 6 routers support both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, which serve the purpose of stabilizing the wireless connection across a long range. Wi-Fi 6 also has the advantage of improving the latency and overall efficiency of your wireless connection with its improved speed and stable connection.

Faster Speed

As with every upgrade in wireless connectivity, Wi-Fi 6 records up to a 40% increase in speed performance with up to 10Gbps when compared to Wi-Fi 5 with an overall speed of 3.5Gbps. You know how fast the speed of Wi-Fi 5 is, now imagine a 40% faster speed Wi-Fi… Exactly!

Better Battery Life

Wireless devices allow the connection of multiple devices at once, this could lead to high power consumption and, subsequently, fast battery drainage. However, Wi-Fi 6 devices offer improved battery performance, and it does this with the aid of its featured ‘target wake time’. The target wake time feature regulates battery drainage in Wi-Fi 6 devices by notifying connected devices when wireless data is available so that they can go into sleep mode when it is not.

More Advanced Technology Features

Wireless-6 devices come with newer features of advanced technology than their predecessors. One of these advanced technology features is Multiple User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO).

Here is what MU-MIMO does; it enables the simultaneous connection of up to 8 devices to Wi-Fi 7 devices without toning down on the wireless speed and overall performance. This is a double improvement advantage to Wi-Fi 5 devices that only permits the connection of 4 devices at once. Even at 4 device connections, Wi-Fi 5 only offers downlink connections to its connected devices.

Another advanced technology feature of Wi-Fi 6 is the Operation Mode Indication (OMI) and Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA). The advantage of OFDMA and OMI is that it allows Wi-Fi 6 device to support multiple device connections without impairing the network speed and bandwidth. OFDMA specifically allows 30 devices to have access to a channel at once, assigning time intervals to different devices while promising improved latency and efficiency.

It also offers extra features like beamforming technology that transmits wireless signals directly to specific devices.

Better Network Security

Wi-Fi 6 also features the latest security protocol with the WPA3 encryption, which provides a more secure network that is less accessible to cyber Intruders.

Next, we will answer the question – can a Wi-Fi 6 device connect to a Wi-Fi 5 router?

WiFi 6 Compatible Devices

While you can use Wi-Fi 6 with older wireless standard devices, you may need to get new Wi-Fi 6 compatible devices to take full advantage of the Wi-Fi 6 wireless standard.

Wi-Fi 6 came about in the year 2019 and since then there have been lots of devices with support for the latest wireless standard features. This has made it possible to enjoy all the many benefits of using the latest wireless standard, including the seamless connection between multiple devices and faster Wi-Fi speed. Some of these devices include mobile phones, laptops, and iPads. However, smart home appliances like TVs with Wi-Fi 6 support are yet to be developed.

First, let’s talk about Wi-Fi 6 phones. Modern phone brands like Samsung, Apple, Huawei, and LG have developed mobile devices that allow you to connect to Wi-Fi 6 internet.

Some of the popular ones include iPhone 12 Mini/ 12 Pro Max/ 12 Pro/ 12, iPhone 11 Pro Max/ 11 Pro / 11, Samsung Galaxy S10E/ S10 / Note 10 / S20 / Fold, OnePlus 8 Pro / 8, Huawei P40 Pro, PG V60 ThinQ and many more.

Also, some mobile phones go the extra mile by featuring support for the newest designation for Wi-Fi 6 which is the Wi-Fi 6E. Wi-Fi 6E comes with a 6GHz band which translates to even better speed and connection.

More mobile phones/ phone brands will certainly join the Wi-Fi 6 support train in the coming years.

Wi-Fi 6 compatible laptops

You can use a lot of Wi-Fi 5 laptops for wireless connection with your Wi-Fi 6 router and this does not mean that Wi-Fi 5 laptops aren’t a cool choice. However, if you are wondering if there are laptops that incorporate the Wi-Fi 6 model, then we will highlight some of the best Wi-Fi 6 compatible laptops for you:

Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop

Apart from the fact that Acer Aspire 5 slim laptop is a Wi-Fi 6 standard (802.11ax) laptop, it also has the following features:

  • Comes in a slim, lightweight, and portable design
  • Features an 8 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD
  • Has a 15.6 inches screen size and a 1920 x 1080 maximum screen resolution
  • Incorporates a 4.2 GHz Intel Core i5 processor
  • Uses Windows 10 operating system
  • It is a battery-powered laptop with 5 hours of battery life  
  • Has 3 x 3.0 USB port and 1x 2.0 USB port

New Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Check out the amazing features of the New Microsoft Surface Pro 7:

  • It uses a Wi-Fi 6 standard (802.11ax)
  • Comes in an ultra-Slim, lightweight, and stylish design
  • Features 8 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD
  • Has a touch screen feature with a 1280 x 800 maximum screen resolution
  • Has an intel core i5 processor and Windows 10 operating system
  • Uses a Lithium battery with 8 hours of battery life  
  • Features 1 x 3.0 USB port and 1x 2.0 USB port

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581 is also another unique choice of Wi-Fi 6 standard laptop, see what it offers below:

  • Features a stylish and unique design
  • Plenty of storage space with 32 GB RAM and 1 TB SSD
  • Has a 14 inches 4k matte touch screen and split-screen display
  • Features a unique detachable palm rest
  • Incorporates a powerful 5GHz Intel core i9 octa-core processor with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060
  • Uses Windows 10 operating system
  • Supports Wi-Fi 6 standard (802.11ax)
  • Features 3 x 3.0 USB port

Razer Blade Pro 17 Gaming Laptop

Razer Blade Pro 17 gaming laptop is a gaming device with support features for Wi-Fi 6 standard. Check the following features for proof of its outstanding performance:

  • Features 16 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD
  • Has a 17.3 inches screen size with a 1920 x 1080 maximum screen resolution
  • Powerful overall performance with 4.6 GHz 9th Gen Core i7 processor and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 support
  • Uses Windows 10 operating system
  • It is a Battery-powered laptop with biometric security
  • It has a 3 x 3.0 USB port

MSI Prestige 14 A10SC-020

Finally, if you aren’t so satisfied with our previous options, we present to you MSI Prestige 14 A10SC-020:

  • Supports Wi-Fi 6 standard (802.11ax)
  • Design is smart, slim, and lightweight
  • Features a 14 inches screen size with 1920 x 1080 maximum screen resolution
  • Enough storage space with 16 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD
  • Powerful system performance with 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5 processor
  • Features Windows 10 operating system
  • Comes with a 720p HD webcam
  • Features a unique silky glass keyboard multi-touch with fingerprint reader
  • It is battery powered with 2 x 3.0 USB and 2 x 2.0 USB ports space.

Wi-Fi 6 Compatibility Problem

Some users face wireless connection issues because of a lack of support for WPA3 security protocol in older Wi-Fi standards. Hence, they won’t be able to enjoy the extra WPA3 support that Wi-Fi 6 features.

Take It One Step at a Time

While it is great to upgrade all your home devices to the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard, we strongly advise that you thread with caution.

Thankfully, Wi-Fi 6 routers/devices are backward compatible with older wireless standards, so there is no need to rush. You can use your Wi-Fi 6 router with a Wi-Fi 5 mobile device and vice versa. This will save you the stress of spending so much all at once while still enjoying a fast and reliable wireless network.

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