Out testing included a Netgear Nighthawk X4S R 7800 router powered by a Qualcomm dual-core IPQ8065 Internet Processor clocked at 1.7 GHz on the infrastructure side and a PC acting as a server.
The router comes with 512 MB RAM and 128 MB flash. On the wireless side, it includes QCA9984 4x4 MU-MIMO 802.11ac radio and four Skyworks SE2623L 2.4 GHz power amp on the 2.4 GHz end and QCA9984 4x4 MU-MIMO 802.11ac radio and four RFMD RFPA5542 5 GHz PA power module for 5GHz support.
Netgear Nighthawk 4XS supports 4x4 MIMO and a technology known as SON (Self Organizing Network) and currently sells just below $200 in the US, €189 in German or £169.99 in the UK. Fudzilla already covered SON in details last summer and we plan to spend some more time with this amazing technology. SON definitely speeds up Wi-Fi internet in your home.
The Google Pixel phone supports 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi with a top connection speed of 866 Mbps. Most phones support up to 433 Mbps as a Wi-Fi speed which throttle’s the Wi-Fi network’s performance. Google realizes the importance of fast internet and has managed to implement 2x2 antennas in the Pixel phone. The Nexus 5S was the first phone to feature 2x2 on the Wi-Fi side and it also supports MU-MIMO.
A 1x1 enabled mobile phone supports a transmit and a receive stream. A 2x2 device supports two streams in each direction making it potentially twice as fast. Only top-of-the-range phones have 2x2 as it requires two Wi-Fi antennas. In some cases, you can use the same antenna for 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi and LTE. This saves you some valuable space inside a smartphone. Antenna design in the phone for the 4G / LTE and Wi-Fi requires space which is at a premium in a smartphone.
Besides the 2x2 approach, using MU-MIMO will provide some additional speed up for your Wi-Fi. With MU-MIMO enables transmit and receive data from multiple Wi-Fi devices at once. Non MU-MIMO or SU-MIMO does not let users stream data at the same time. Only one user can send and receive, while everyone else is held in a queue.
This is where MU-MIMO (Multi User MIMO) Wi-Fi comes to play. Google Pixel uses 2x2 and MU-MIMO while Samsung Galaxy S7 with Exynos specification suggests 2x2 configuration but only offers 1x1 speed.
First phones we tested the router setup using a Google Pixel with a Snapdragon 821 SoC and we followed this up by testing the popular Samsung Galaxy S7 powered by the Exynos 8890 SoC. Our initial focus was only on Wi-Fi peak performance and the MU-MIMO in best signal conditions. More testes with multiple phones in crowded scenarios are coming later.
We had to emulate traffic to get the maximum possible throughput. In the testing, we were sending data from the simulated server via a router to the phone. Imagine our surprise when we saw that Pixel phone scored 644 Mbps while Samsung Galaxy S7 powered by Exynos 8890 SoC scores 329 Mbps. Of course, we tried to do a rematch multiple times until we realized that these scores are conclusive. The slowest we’ve seen with Samsung S7 8890 Exynos phone was the 316 Mbps. It is interesting that although the phone specifications support 2x2, it only offers 1x1 speed. We will continue to explore why this is the case.
As mentioned before, since we were measuring peak performance as a starting point, the phones were only one meter from the router, which would indicate near perfect conditions. Still, the test room was polluted by at least 10 other Wi-Fi networks from the neighborhood. We tested in a real-life condition and not in a Wi-Fi isolated room to get as accurate date as possible. The plan is to do some additional testing at the distance, but from the first results, the same difference applies even at the larger distance.
As expected, the Wi-Fi signal speed drops with distance or with each wall. Since the testing has been conducted in Vienna Austria, we are talking about concrete or brick walls. This is one of the worst-case scenario for any Wi-Fi signal as the steel inside of the walls acts as a Faraday cage. It is important to notice that the signal drop is consistent on both device. We will tell you more about it some other time.
During testing, the Pixel phone peaked to 695 Mbps. This is the highest Wi-Fi performance that we've ever seen on a phone. The 644 Mbps was the number that we got repeatedly and it is almost twice as fast as the score we got on the Galaxy S7.
We can draw a few easy conclusions. The combo on a Netgear router powered on Snapdragon on the router and Google Pixel phone with Snapdragon 821 SoC and Qualcomm’s Wi-Fi chip inside will get you to incredible Wi-Fi speeds.
The Pixel gets almost twice the performance as compared to the acclaimed Samsung Galaxy S7 phone, and significantly higher performance as compared to the iPhone 7, Huawei and a few other phones. This is not application processor dependant, as we proved with a few phones with different non Qualcomm SoCs. We will leave this subject for another time too, as we are conducting some additional testing.
With many countries and providers offering 500 or 1000 Mbps (1 Gbps) speeds, you are able to download data almost two times faster with a Pixel phone. Netflix movie download is a good example, it downloads close to two times faster on a Pixel phone via Wi-Fi. Most people we know do use Wi-Fi whenever they are in their homes or office because of the data caps.
Most fixed line Internet providers in the world don’t have any data caps any more but most mobile carriers do imply a limitation to a data consumption.
Therefore, Fudzilla wants to point out the importance of the quality and performance of your Wi-Fi. Most people use Wi-Fi almost as much as electricity. It becomes very important as most apps on your phone won’t do anything without internet connection. One of the most important cases where MU-MIMO comes to play are the crowded environments. The phone supporting MU-MIMO has a better chance of getting much faster internet than any other phone competing for the same shared bandwidth speed.
We will touch another elephant in the room confirming that your ISP (Internet Service Provider) router is a horrible choice compared to high-end routers from Netgear, Linksys and the like. High end routers can easily double performance compared to the router you get complementary (for free) from your ISP.
Free is not always the best for you, especially when it comes to Wi-Fi routers and MU-MIMO Multi user MIMO Wi-Fi performance.