The emergence of WiFi 6 routers in 2020 is no doubt exciting, allowing users to ramp up network speeds and see more reliable connections, particularly when using multiple devices.
However, there are currently a number of drawbacks to WiFi 6 routers that may make you hesitate before purchasing.
Should you buy a WiFi 6 router?
The short answer is that it depends on how many compatible devices you have, as well as whether you’re willing to spend big on the new technology.
While WiFi 6 routers are backwards compatible with older devices, the new features that they provide can only be enjoyed with devices that support the new standard, ruling out a heck of a lot of hardware.
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The good news is that most modern flagship smartphones support WiFi 6 these days, with the likes of Samsung, Apple, OnePus and Sony embracing the standard in 2020. However, there’s yet to be a Google Pixel handset that supports WiFi 6 so support is not always guaranteed when browsing the likes of Carphone Warehouse.
It’s less complicated for laptops, as any model using a processor from either Intel’s 10th Generation or AMD’s 4000 series CPU families should see support for WiFi 6. But that once again means only devices launched in 2020, or the latter end of 2019, will be compatible with a WiFi 6 router.
There is also a long list of modern devices that currently lack support for WiFi 6, including the majority of smart home devices, TV streaming sticks and games consoles. That should change in the future though, as we expect (although it’s not confirmed) both the PS5 and Xbox Series X to offer support.
Since the main benefit of WiFi 6 is its efficiency at working with multiple devices at once, it’s probably not worth investing in an expensive router if you only have one or two compatible devices. To see a noticeable difference, you need a household worth of gadgets speaking the WiFi 6 language.
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That all said, with WiFi 6 set to be the new standard of home network connectivity for the foreseeable future, you could make the argument of future-proofing your home so it’s ready for the inevitable influx of compatible devices. WiFi 6 routers are fully compatible with older devices too, so it can do just as good of a job as your current WiFi 5 router.
The only problem on that front is that WiFi 6 routers are still pretty expensive, with the Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852) costing a whopping £699.99 at the time of writing. There are cheaper alternatives, such as the TP-Link Deco X60, but they still generally cost over £400 which isn’t particularly good value.
Those prices will likely plummet once the competition becomes more crowded and WiFi 6 becomes the default standard, so we suggest waiting until then before making the jump. But if you already own a number of WiFi 6 compatible devices and are eager to improve your network connection, then stumping up the cash to invest in a WiFi 6 router now could still be worthwhile.