Is your WLAN ready for the bigger, faster iPhone 6?
Apple this week announced the next generation of its flagship smartphone. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus offer larger screens, thinner bodies, faster processors, better cameras, and embedded support for Apple’s new NFC-enabled ApplyPay system. While these features may grab headlines, many users will be just as thankful – if not more so – for the core wireless improvements found in these new iPhones.
Specifically, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus include:
- Better LTE support, boosting max data rate to 150 Mbps and expanding global network support to more than 200 carriers and 20 different LTE bands (vs. 13 bands on iPhone 5).
- New Voice over LTE (VoLTE) support, delivering improved call quality, along with simultaneous voice and data capability.
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi, reportedly using Broadcom's new BC4358 chip with 2x2 MIMO that’s 25% more power efficient than its 1x1 predecessor, and three times as fast as the iPhone 5.
- WiFi calling support, allowing calls to be initiated over Wi Fi using your iPhone’s number, then seamlessly transitioned to VoLTE.
Of course, as with all new wireless features, users may experience a lag between capability and reality. For example, a mapping of iPhone 6 models and supported LTE bands can be found here:
http://www.apple.com/iphone/LTE. But beware: carrier support for VoLTE and WiFi Calling are just now emerging – for example, T-Mobile today (9/10/14) announced seamless VoLTE to Wi-Fi calls, a free T-Mobile Personal CellSpot to overcome in-home cellular dead spots, and in-flight Wi-Fi texting. But it could be awhile before other carriers join the party.
As for the iPhone’s newly-minted 802.11ac capabilities, well, as in all Wi-Fi CERTIFIED products, you’ll find backward compatibility with 802.11 a/b/g/n APs. Which is of course essential, since 802.11ac AP deployments are still growing. While 11ac clients may experience better rate over range when connected to an 11n AP, users will experience far greater benefits when connected to 11ac APs.
If your company has not yet deployed 11ac, the iPhone 6 should offer a bit more motivation to do so. Not only does the iPhone 6 support WiFi Calling, which will add load to your WLAN, but the iPhone 6 runs iOS 8, which expands and accelerates application and data synchronization with Apple’s iCloud. We’ll write more about iOS 8 in a future blog, but suffice it to say that iDevice load on your WLAN is about to increase, so there’s no time like the present to prepare for that.
To learn more about 802.11ac WLAN design, deployment, trouble-shooting, and optimization, check out this NETSCOUT summary: /content/80211ac and follow links to free videos, posters, FAQs, how-to-white papers, and even product trials for tools that can help you get started, including AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer PRO and AirMagnet Survey PRO. Finally, NETSCOUT AirMagnet Enterprise customers can use their WIPS to key an eye on iPhone 6 adoption in the workplace.