Heard the hype about Wi-Fi 7 and want a piece of the ultrafast wireless pie? Let’s find out when you can expect to buy a device supporting those coveted transfer speeds, or at least something close to them.
What Even Is Wi-Fi 7?
Put simply, Wi-Fi 7 is a wireless connection standard that improves on earlier standards to offer faster speeds and less interference, all while maintaining backward compatibility for your legacy devices. It also goes by a more technical name, 802.11be.
To give you an idea of what to expect, your home router and the device you’re using to access this article are likely sporting Wi-Fi 5. If that’s the case, your wireless transfer speeds max out at 3.5Gbps, and that’s assuming you’re not hampered by interference, which you probably are if you live near other people with their own networks.
Wi-Fi 7, in contrast, has demonstrated maximum speeds of 30Gbps, more than eight times that of Wi-Fi 5. Better yet, it dynamically utilizes more Wi-Fi channels, allowing it to better handle interference. But do you even need that kind of ridiculous speed? For most people, the answer is probably no, but the idea that it’ll one day be the standard everyone is using is pretty exciting.
Can I Buy Wi-Fi 7-Enabled Devices Yet?
MediaTek, an organization helping to develop Wi-Fi 7, said in January 2022 that the first devices will arrive in 2023. However, final regulatory approval for the standard isn’t expected until 2024. That doesn’t stop manufacturers, though, from trying to get Wi-Fi 7’s sweet, sweet speeds in your devices to you as soon as possible.
In February 2022, chipmaker Qualcomm announced a Wi-Fi 7-enabled chip for computers, smartphones, and VR headsets. The company claimed commercial availability will begin in the second half of 2022, completed standards or none. Manufacturer boasts aside, we don’t expect you’ll have a Wi-Fi 7 device in your hands until late 2023 at the earliest.
What’s the Next Best Thing?
If you want the bleeding edge of Wi-Fi technology right this minute, look for a device that supports Wi-Fi 6. Or, do yourself one better and find a Wi-Fi 6E-enabled device (assuming you live in one of the countries where it’s approved). Namely, the Google Pixel 6 supports 6E, while the latest iPhones are limited to Wi-Fi 6. Certain high-end laptops are Wi-Fi 6E-enabled, like the ASUS ZenBook Duo 14 available now, or the Dell Precision 5470 expected in April 2022.
Of course, you won’t be able to take advantage of those devices’ speeds without a router equipped for it. If you find it’s time to replace your router, we’ve got several router recommendations that include Wi-Fi 6 and 6E.
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