Can you upgrade your devices to Wi-Fi 6E?

Linksys Atlas Max 6e Logo Name
Linksys Atlas Max 6e Logo Name (Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

Best answer: No, not yet. Android phones will not be updated to support 6GHz Wi-Fi 6E unless they ship with support. Some PC expansion cards are available, but neither Windows 10 nor MacOS support 6GHz bands yet.

Stick with Wi-Fi 6 for now

Wi-Fi 6 is high-speed, with some routers offering up to AX11000 speeds and many devices supporting link speeds of 2.4Gbps. For pretty much anything you need to do on your wireless devices, this is more than fast enough. Wi-Fi 6E, however, doesn't set out to increase the top speed of Wi-Fi 6 but to keep those speeds up even in heavily congested areas. This is thanks to support for 6GHz spectrum, where there are many more WI-FI channels available.

For years, our Wi-Fi devices have been using spectrum at 2.4GHz and 5GHz, and while this spectrum supports more than enough speed for our devices in a vacuum, things look very different when you add dozens of routers and wireless devices to the mix. Even 5GHz Wi-Fi, which offers multiple channels capable of 160MHz bandwidth, has become fully saturated in some areas, and it's only going to get more crowded.

6GHz spectrum has many more of these channels available and will keep up top Wi-Fi 6 speeds across many more devices. Even when working as a mesh backhaul, the 6GHz connection in the Linksys Atlas Max 6E mesh system enabled incredible speeds. It's worth keeping in mind that we were likely the only ones using this new tech in the area, but the results still have promise.

ASUS ROG Phone 5 Review

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central The ROG Phone 5 was one of the first devices to support 6GHz Wi-Fi 6E (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

The main issue is that devices need all new hardware to support Wi-Fi 6E. As is usual in mobile technology, Android has led the way with the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the newest ROG Phone 5 and Zenfone 8 from Asus.

Some laptops and desktops can be upgraded with the Wi-Fi 6E hardware like the Intel AX210, which is now widely available for under $50. The issue is that neither Windows 10 nor MacOS yet support 6GHz operation, so that you would be installing this upgrade entirely in anticipation. Linux has added support for 6GHz Wi-Fi with Kernel 5.11 though it's unclear whether Intel's drivers will work properly. In our Linksys Hydra Pro 6E review, we were able to use 6GHz Wi-Fi with a registry edit, but since it's still unsupported, accurate connection information wasn't available.

Source: Samuel Contreras / Android Central

For now, Wi-Fi 6E isn't available to most people, and the handful of devices that support the tech can't take real advantage of the extra speed. Wi-Fi 6E and 6GHz is very much a chicken and egg problem. Luckily for us, Asus, Linksys, Netgear, and others have already built the chicken in some great Wi-Fi 6E routers.

Samuel Contreras

When Samuel is not writing about networking or 5G at Android Central, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.