Apple Readying New, iPhone-Friendlier Airport Extremes and Time Capsules?

Since all current and previous iPhone (and iPod touch) devices have 802.11b/g WiFi, if placed on a faster, wider-range 802.11n network, they typically cause such networks to downgrade to 802.11b/g speeds for compatibility. This means your hyper-fast router will slow down your iMac or MacBook whenever your iPhone hits the network...

...But maybe not for much longer?

Apple Insider reports that the FCC has just been hit with new versions of the Airport Extreme (802.11n Router) and Time Capsule (802.11n Router + HD for Time Machine backup) that handle things a tad more gracefully:

The documents appear to indicate that Apple is adding a combined mode, allowing its AirPort base stations to simultaneously support iPhones and other 802.11b/g devices operating at 2.4 GHz, while also broadcasting 802.11n wide signals in the 5GHz band to maximize throughput for notebooks and devices such as Apple TV. Existing models can only run in one mode or the other, providing either wide compatibility or the highest possible network performance, but not both.

While only the most power-mad of power users will likely ditch their old Airport Extreme or Time Capsule for the latest/greatest, the new features should appeal to iPhone users looking for high-quality routers to round out their setups.

Now who wants one?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Apple Readying New, iPhone-Friendlier Airport Extremes and Time Capsules?


So one product gets an upgade resulting in all products to become obsolete. My timecapsule is working perfect, no need to upgrade. Several computers/printer, PS3 and two iPhones hooked up to the my wireless network. All running perfect.
The new iPhone should N draft

This timecapsule new changes should be a firmware upgrade not hardware...
Seriously were in a recession on a downward path toward to a full blown depression!
What reality is Apple living in. They should focus in software and let hardware rest for awhile.

Hopefully they will do an firmware update... just got a TimeCapsule and a 24" iMac.. dont planning on spending more money...

I recently finished setting up a dual band WiFi in my house to accomplish this same thing.
I have a Time Capsule running 802.11n 5Ghz and an Airport Express running 802.11 b/g.
This way my MacBooks get the best throughput to my server.

I will probably buy one when they come out. It wouldn't surprise me if the 1TB model is lowered to $400, the 500GB is lowered to $250 and the Airport Extreme dropped to $150.

This is more Apple playing catchup. Linksys (and others) have simultaneous dual band routers for a while. The WRT610 does more and costs less than the existing AEBS. Hopefully Apple just replaces the existing AEBS with the new dual band one. Maybe they'll even call it the Airport Even More Extreme

Regarding the dual band routers form others, I can only hope Apple does it better.
The problem with the two versions I have tested is connect time for things like the iPhone (which hops on and off the network frequently) is actually worse when running against a dual band wifi than using a single band. Sometimes connection will fail 10 times in a row and the work, sometimes a router reset is needed.
I think the iPhone tries to connect to an 11N wifi, fails and the routers or the iphone blindly try again until they happen to connect at 11G.
Its so much worse, that I've locked my router down to 11G rather than fight it every time I light up my iphone.

icebike is right, the Linksys and D-Link simultaneous band routers have had lots of complaints. Especially the Linksys. I would buy an Apple version in a minute.