Nov 20, 2019
Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.
It’s hard to overstate just how fundamental a role connectivity plays in today’s mobile experiences. Around the globe, it links people and devices, and serves as the building block for many of the most innovative and immersive applications. Wi-Fi, as an important and very complex connectivity technology with advanced features like MU-MIMO, OFDMA, and 1024 QAM, also has one very simple metric with a significant role in defining your mobile experiences: the number of Wi-Fi antennas.
Earlier this year, Qualcomm Technologies — in coordination with an independent market research company — conducted some insightful research* intended to illuminate the pain points and perception of advanced Wi-Fi capabilities for consumers. The qualitative and quantitative user research was conducted in India, and closely resembles research previously conducted in China in methodology and results, and paints an interesting picture as to how modern mobile users around the globe understand and value Wi-Fi.
Before we dive into the research, a quick lesson in mobile Wi-Fi for context. Mobile devices typically have two configurations – either one or two Wi-Fi radios, represented in parlance as “1x1” (for one transmit and one receive antenna) or “2x2” (two transmit and two receive antennas).
Around Qualcomm Technologies, we often call 2x2 Wi-Fi “Dual Wi-Fi”. The benefits of Dual Wi-Fi are expectedly intuitive – an additional antenna virtually doubles a mobile device’s ability to catch wireless data. Based on our testing, this doubling of radios translates to nearly double the speed and range. Dual Wi-Fi, then, helps deliver better performance in more places for more reliable gaming, smoother video streaming, faster downloads/uploads, better multi-user efficiency, and overall improved mobile experiences in public hotspots.
As one would expect when given the option, 86 percent of those surveyed in India preferred Dual Wi-Fi over 1x1 Wi-Fi in blind tests. The reason for the overwhelming preference for Dual Wi-Fi is clear – Dual Wi-Fi simply outperforms 1x1 Wi-Fi in ways that are easily recognizable for users. For example, the research told us that 87 percent of mobile users do not receive whole home coverage. In addition, 71 percent use public Wi-Fi on a weekly basis (e.g., railway stations, airports, and restaurants), 85 percent indicated slow speed, and 72 percent listed congestion as top pain points.
But perhaps the most eye-opening result, especially for makers of smartphones, was when we looked at how Dual Wi-Fi influenced the perception of quality and performance overall of a mobile device. Users, in blind tests, were testing devices with just one difference: Dual Wi-Fi vs 1x1 Wi-Fi. The result was 9 in 10 users assumed the smoother, faster, and better performance of the Dual Wi-Fi devices had to be the result of some other spec — better RAM and/or processor speed. Once the benefits of Dual Wi-Fi were exposed, users were shocked to learn that their favorite mobile companies were not highlighting Dual Wi-Fi as a key feature. In fact, on average, users noted they would be willing to pay a premium of more than $30 USD on their next smartphone for the Dual Wi-Fi feature alone. Additionally, a staggering 88 percent said they would switch to a different brand that has Dual Wi-Fi.
It's so easy to think about connectivity as a specific feature, distinct from other mobile device features, but this study underscores how inseparable connectivity has become to the real and perceived performance and quality of a mobile device.
Dual Wi-Fi is just one differentiated feature available on the Qualcomm FastConnect subsystems, along with Wi-Fi 6 feature evolution and advanced Bluetooth audio capabilities. It is another example of Qualcomm Technologies providing critical connectivity building blocks that are reshaping mobile experiences and transforming how users around the world connect, compute, and communicate.
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*Source: Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. 2019 India Wi-Fi User Research.