And here we come to the second test, which is actually closer to real-life usage - the web page load times.
We only list how much better or worse is using Wireless N over the standard-issue G protocol (0% percent means no change). We used two Wireless N modes – the "neighbour-friendly" Wireless N 130Mbps mode and the "maximum performance" Wireless N 300Mbps mode.
Unlike the previous tests we did the test from only one location – about 5m from the wireless router in direct line of sight.
Bear in mind, these numbers won't allow you to compare the wireless throughput of the different phones. They only show the way the throughput of any individual phone changes when you go through the available WLAN modes.
|Change in web page load times,
|Samsung Galaxy S||Nokia N8||iPhone 4||Samsung Wave|
|n130 over g||-8.59%||12.92%||5.09%||8.32%|
|n300 over g||-30.67%||16.77%||-10.65%||10.07%|
|n300 over n130||-20.34%||4.42%||-16.59%||1.91%|
When it came to loading a web page we got mixed results – three of the phones (Nokia N8, iPhone 4 and Samsung Wave) showed a slight improvement (5-13%) while the Samsung Galaxy S took a big hit.
Using the 130Mbps Wireless N mode, the droid browser slowed down by 8%, while the 300Mbps mode made things even worse, a big 30% hit.
Obviously when downloading big files, Wireless N makes a clear difference (if the router is set up correctly that is). But when it comes to loading pages, the differences of around 10% will probably be masked by the uncertain networking conditions of real-world Internet usage.
As for 130Mbps vs. 300Mbps, the supposedly faster mode either made no difference (5% is below the threshold of what users will notice) or made things slower.
Keep in mind that we’re not comparing the different browsers – if you want a browser shootout, check out our touch browser mega shootout. We’re comparing Wi-Fi performance here – how much the same browser will speed up (or slow down) when we change the Wi-Fi mode.
Update, December 30: We also redid the Nokia N8 web page load tests with Power saving off but that didn’t change the results.
During the tests, none of the phones went over 20Mbps transfer speed anyway, but that’s to be expected. The lesson here (one we learned the hard way as we had to redo the tests) is that how you set up the Wireless N router matters a lot!
The 300Mbps mode worked better for us, especially if the router is in the other room. There are other things you need to consider though (note that some routers might perform differently).
First off, you need to use WPA2/AES encryption or your Wireless N network will work at 54Mbps. Second, Quality of Service (QoS) has to be enabled to hit the higher speeds (our test phones performed worse with QoS off).
Last but not least, if a Wi-Fi b/g device connects to a Wireless N network simultaneously with your N client, the network automatically throttles down the down to 54Mbps to accommodate the new device (at least while the b/g device is actively using the link).
This is important to keep in mind if you have multiple devices of various generations connected to the same network. To solve that you can add a simple separate 802.11g access point (not a router) for those G clients.