Could the Next iPhone Have 802.11n Super Fast WiFi?

The current generation of iPhone, iPod Touch, and pretty much all mobile devices max out at last generation 802.11g WiFi speeds. Could the next generation finally catch up? They'd need something that packed all that speed and range into a pretty tiny chip... Luckily, Engadget says such a chip is already becoming available:

Broadcom has announced its BCM4329, one of the first mobile 802.11n solutions on the block. On top of delivering up to 50Mbps of real-world WiFi throughput on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, the darned thing throws in Bluetooth, an FM receiver, and an FM transmitter, too -- in other words, everything but the kitchen sink, where the "kitchen sink" is the cellular radio itself.

Since TiPb is still predicting an iPhone HD for 2009, and 802.11n was part of that prediction (we'll need it to stream 800x480 video!), we'll just say it right now: yes please!

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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

Could the Next iPhone Have 802.11n Super Fast WiFi?


Interesting, but irrelevant speculation. WiFi is not the limiting factor on the iPhone, 3G is. When 3G gets faster than WiFi let's open this up for discussion but right now it is no big deal. Besides, are these new chips more power hungry than the current ones? If so, pass until they can get the power down.

Is TiPB Store gonna offer storage cases to toss all of our obsolete iPhones into every year? If so, I'd like to pre-order mine now. I'd like black, please. sigh :roll:

Would you rather they didn't make a better one every year? They'd sell less as the current ones go obsolete, leading to less development on the UI, leading to less updates and goodies for us. What's that? We don't GET many goodies anymore? Sigh...

Meh. While "n" is faster, I certainly don't need it as "g" is plenty fast for what I need. Since I have a rather nice TV and Home Theater, I don't need to be streaming anything to my iPhone. And lately, I've been avoding the hassles of trying to get onto a wi-fi network when away from my home and just using 3G. It seems to be just as good and works everywhere. (ok, maybe not everywhere, but definitely at my Starbucks and McDonalds!)

I agree with the reptile. The discusion is irrelivent, we all want faster 3g with better batteries. The iPhone needs to be better and faster when away from wifi. 70% of the time when you are around wifi you use a laptop or computer anyhow.

While I'd like faster 3G, I'd be excited about n WiFi on the iPhone for 2 reasons:
(1) I'm on WiFi for 90-95% of my iPhone surfing, so WiFi speed for me is actually more relevant than 3G speed.
(2) not slow down my n home network to g speeds.

@Dyvim brings up probably the best reason to upgrade it to N. An N network has to slow everything down to G speeds if there is a G device on the network. If I upgrade the rest of my home network to N I don't want my phone slowing everything else down.

That's pretty cool, but I'll stick to my habit of skipping at least a generation of a gadget before upgrading. I have an iPhone 3G, which serves me just fine, and I plan to keep it at least until the 2010 version of the iPhone comes out.

Has anybody run a speed test with 802.11g? The current iPhones can't grab the full available bandwidth on a 54mbps connection, probably due to limitations of the power of the chipset and design goals to keep the battery from dying even quicker. 802.11n will do NOTHING for phones of this ilk, but are great for netbooks and other emerging devices, which is where that product is destined.
Also: I stream 720p 1280x720 video from my iMac to my Apple TV that I encode at about 3000kbps with NO problem on 802.11g. Why would 802.11n be required to stream quality video to an iPhone??

@Scott Lewis that is an incredibly low bit rate for HD video. Considering BluRay tops out at around 40mbps and is usually around 20mbps, anything below 15mbps isn't really HD at all. 802.11n is the only way to stream HD wireless and in reality you should probably just go wired.
The iPhone probably cant take full advantage of the 54mbps theoretical 802.11g bandwidth, but then no device does, there's too much networking and interference overhead. For mobile devices it usually comes down to the processor. If the processor can handle that rate of data I/O and the browser can render it fast enough then any device could take advantage of the increased bandwidth. Whether the iPhone can do that, and do it with out limiting the battery live to mere mins, is yet to be proven.

Unless you are on your local Lan 802.11n is a waste of battery power. The bottle neck remains at the ISP which the sweet spot is 10Mbps. Unless you are viewing or listening to HD content on your local lan wifi N is a pure waste. In fact HD on hand held is a ludicrous Idea. That's why we have home theater systems even though HD quality video is easier to accomplished on such a small screen the over head is simply not worth it. Good wi-fi security cuts that max speed in half. Wi-FI is quickly on the way out the door. They want you to connect your mac address directly to the cloud so they can nose you when ever they wish. I imagine the free broadband initiative proposed and passed by the fcc will consist of.. Free broadband 95 percent of the US population. This is how the US plans to regain the upper hand on information technology by telling the rest of the world "all the applications are complete and free so we don't need to outsource anything to anyone regarding information technology". How can you compete with free? This is how they are playing the game. Porn is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 in the US! Therefore they must (identify)individuals based on age (social security number). If you are under 18 you are blocked from smut sites. If you are over 18 you have a choice to turn smut on or turn smut off. There is no way to enforce this without biometrics. Next gen devices are going to be biometrics based and will use less standards that are not as open as wifi.Wi-fi was never meant to be secure. That's why you can drive down any suburban street and find open wi-fi networks. Its a real security risk because cyber attacks can be initiated from just about any unsecured or improperly secured wi-fi network. Wi-fi is on its way out. And your next iphone will have a 32 meg sd card slot and a removable battery and have stereo blutooth connectivity.

It won't make much, if any difference on the Phone or iPod, but it is good for one reason: setting up a base-station (Airport) as N-only speeds all other devices up if they're N.
Having to keep a b/g compatible setup does seem stupid, but that's the option today.

That's the reason I have an AirExp and an AirExt, so I can run the extreme at N speeds. Then I hard wire the express into the extreme and broadcast that at G speeds. Running the dual N/G on extreme slows the network down considerably. It would be nice to have the iPhone running on N so you can have one N network.