At long last, there is a client device that supports Wi-Fi 6, the latest and sixth version of the Wi-Fi standard that is found in the newest home routers in the market.
Also known as 802.11ax, Wi-Fi 6 was introduced last year, promising higher speeds and - more importantly - better Wi-Fi performance in crowded areas.
Networking firm Asus was the first to debut a Wi-Fi 6 consumer router in Singapore last October. But while this Asus AX88U router offers backwards compatibility with older devices using the previous-generation 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) standard, there had been no native client for Wi-Fi 6.
That changed last week, with the local availability of the Samsung Galaxy S10 series of smartphones which supports Wi-Fi 6. Armed with the S10, I set out to see if Wi-Fi 6 makes a difference in the real world, using the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000, a tri-band gaming router that supports Wi-Fi 6.
Upon connecting the S10 to the Asus router, the first thing I notice is that the Wi-Fi status icon on the phone now has a tiny 6 next to it. Samsung tells me this means the smartphone is connected to a Wi-Fi 6 network.
To prevent the vagaries of my home's fibre connection from influencing the test results, I use an Android app (WiFi Speed Test) that measures the transfer speed between a laptop and the S10 within the router's network.
The app indicates that the S10 has, on paper, a connection speed of 1,200Mbps, compared with 866Mbps for my reference device, the Google Pixel 3, which does not support the Wi-Fi 6 standard.
• Future-proof with Wi-Fi 6 support
• Useful gaming features• •Easy set-up with mobile app
• Large and bulky, cannot be wall mounted
• Driver update required for some Wi-Fi clients
ETHERNET INTERFACE: 1 x 10/100/1000 Gigabit WAN, 4 x 10/100/1000 Gigabit LAN, 1 x 2.5G LAN/WAN
ADVANCED FIREWALL FEATURES: NAT, DoS and SPI
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5
In actual testing, the S10 manages an average download speed of 330Mbps, which is similar to the Google Pixel 3. But it is much faster in uploading, with an average speed of 525Mbps. In comparison, the Pixel 3 clocks about 100Mbps.
Thus, it would seem that S10 users will see some benefit with a Wi-Fi 6 router. For starters, uploading photos and videos to a cloud service such as Google Photos may take less time, though this would ultimately depend on your home fibre broadband connection.
A minor but potential bugbear is that devices using certain Intel-branded Wi-Fi adaptors will need to update the Wi-Fi driver software before they can connect to the Asus router - I had to do this for my work laptop. It is a simple fix for the tech-savvy user, but may catch novices out.
Weighing about 1.7kg, the Rapture is bulky with eight adjustable antennae that make it look like a large spider on its back.
It comes with four Gigabit LAN ports, which seem sedate compared with the eight ports on other similarly priced Asus routers. It also has a 2.5G port, though home fibre plans do not yet offer 2Gbps bandwidth for a single device.
Like Asus' other high-end gaming routers, it comes with access to WTFast, which offers private, dedicated Internet routes to overseas game servers for popular games to ensure one's game does not get bogged down by other users. You can even reserve one of the router's 5GHz band for your gaming devices.
I am also unsurprised to learn that the LED-lit logo on the router can be customised. Make it show your preferred hue or have it dance through all the available colours. But you have to use the browser interface, not the Asus Router mobile app (available for iOS and Android), to tweak the LED.
While the app is my preferred utility for the initial set-up, the browser interface offers more extensive controls, such as VPN and firewall settings for advanced users.
In my usual speed test, which uses two laptops on the older 802.11ac standard, the Rapture manages an average download speed of about 500Mbps - typical but hardly spectacular for a high-end router.