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How can 2 phones (iPhone and Android) display totally different MBPS being at the same distance to a wifi router

Last Modified: 2018-11-16
A very strange thing happened and wanted EE advice.  We have android phones and a iphone phones.   We are setting up some computers and its wifi router in an office.  In order to detect the best signal possible, we used an apps that would detect a wifis' router signal connection and see speed or fluctuation, etc. so we can discover the perfect spot for all devices.

For some reason the android phone had better reach to a wifi router and the iphone super less.  For example, the apps would display 121 mbps and the android phone and in the iphone would detect 23 or 50 mbps - placing both phones next to each other, inches away the wifi.  

Please advice on possible cause.

Thank you in advance.
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Top Expert 2011

Does each phone use the same wireless adapter and chipset?
Does each phone have the same processor and memory chipset?

This is not a good comparison. I can see if both phones were the same model and features?

Get two of the same android phones or two of the same Apple phone. Then see if you see a difference.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

1. Are they connected via the same band?  2.4 GHz or 5 GHz?  I find tremendous interference where I live on the 2.4 GHz because there are so many other sources of radio... while 5 GHz gives me MUCH better performance.

2. As Soulja stated there are many other reasons.  A bug in the driver(s) for Android... or iPhone.  A problem with the particular chipset used with your device and your wireless access point.  Software implementations (just how things were done).  If you want to see if there's something wrong with a device, you need to compare Apples to Apples and Android to Android.  Not Apples to Androids.  And then you need to make sure your comparing the same devices with the same software revisions, etc.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

As noted above, you need two similar devices to make this kind of test meaningful.

Also DNS may be old (slowing down the phone) and need to be flushed by turning ON Airplane mode for a minute, turning it back OFF and then restarting the phone.
Robert RComputer Service Technician

some android phone may put out a stronger signal and therefore have a stronger connection compared to the iphone. are both devices fully charged? maybe the iphone is low on charge giving out a weaker signal in order to conserve battery power.
Brandon LyonFrontend Engineer and UX

Even if the hardware were exactly the same, there could be software limitations like "in this country we need to reduce the radiation levels" or "in this other country we need to stay out of [insert frequency band here].

Could be any combination of the following, and this is just off the top of my head:
* Wifi chipset hardware.
* Wifi chipset drivers and/or firmware.
* OS software configurations.
* Vendor software configurations.
* Antenna types.
* Antenna locations. Depending on how the phone is held and where the antenna is your body may be interfering with reception.
* Wifi frequencies (2.4, 5, 2.4+5, etc).
* Other phone parts like cpu, ram, storage.
* DNS & routing.
* Materials the phone is made from ( plastic, ceramic, aluminum, metal ) or any cases on the phone.
* Competing wifi signals. If the phones are truly next to eachother then the stronger phone may be interfering with the other phone.

Note that some of these are less likely since you mentioned you're doing this test inches from the wifi access point.


Don't think both phones have the same wireless/processor.  I can tell you that the android phone is Huaawi Mate 9 and iPhone is iPhone X
We did get 3 iPhone and 3 androids and the androids had stronger signal reception to the Wi-Fi router.

How to I know they are connected 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz?
(do you mean the phone or the wifi router?)
Note, we didn't set out to compare phones.  It just that when the iPhone had low signal receiving, we just had that android available.  When connect gave us a much hiher signal; thus the placed question.

I turned off and restarted the iPhone (they are months old) and same result lower signal reception of the Wi-Fi router (yes, we turned off/on the airplane mode without knowing this would actually flush the DNS as you say)

Yes, fully charge (also want to say we brought in another iPhone X and another android and same results).

both phones are only months old (iPhone X and Huaawi Mate 9) and these phone are working perfect.  However when we brining in another android phone it also was higher signal receiving connecting to the Wi-Fi.

The stranger thing guys, is that both phones when testing speedtest had same exact results 12mb.  Both navigate and downloads similar - it’s the signal issue.  So strange.

Anyways, when the user saw this, they freaked out because there iPhone was expensive and had super low signal compare to an android.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

My iPhone SE (6s) which is not spiffy new gets 30 Mbits/sec on my 2.4 GHz band which is about the speed I get from my ISP (I do not pay for high speed as I do not need it here).

Can you try a different Wireless Router or Access Point?
Eoin OSullivanConsultant

You say that "The stranger thing guys, is that both phones when testing speedtest had same exact results 12mb.  Both navigate and downloads similar - it’s the signal issue"

So you're saying that the UPLOAD/DOWNLOAD speed on a speedtest is the same (more or less) ..if that is the case then you really are dealing with different reporting from different devices and it sounds like one system or the other is mis-reporting the signal strength.

To be honest it sounds like the Android devices are over-estimating the signal strength and the Apple possibly under-estimating?

What is more important is that the upload/download speed of 2 devices side-by-side is more or less the same .. and that each device consistently reports signal strength as you move around .. it doesn't really matter that one is showing 2 or 3 times the strength of the other if they perform the same at each location.
Top Expert 2011

"The stranger thing guys, is that both phones when testing speedtest had same exact results 12mb.  Both navigate and downloads similar - it’s the signal issue.  So strange."

This isn't strange, because that download speed doesn't exceed either device's wireless speed that you initially reported which was 121Mbps for the Android and 23-50Mbps on the Apple. Now if both reported the same speed that exceeded the Apples 50Mbps, then we can say the Apple's readout was underestimated.


Maybe is the apps we are using in celulars (W-FiSweetSpot).

What would be a good apps to text signal from a mobile to a wifi router?
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Except for phone itself, apps use what connection is available. Look at the top bar and it will tell you whether it is connected cellular or wireless


Correct, apps use what connection is available; thus present the results of the signal in the apps.

What I am seeing that in these 4 phones, the common denominator is the apps W-FiSweetSpot.

The apps icomes in both android and IOS.

Just wanted to know if you guys knew of another or better or equivalent so to exclude the possibility is the apps.
hecgomrecNetwork Administrator

Sorry to be the devil's advocate here...

First, Wi-Fi signal is measured in dBm  and anything higher than -90 will work the closer you are the higher you'll be like -30.

Second, if you have measure anything in MBps or mbps you are looking at transfer rates between devices, that is the phone and the endpoint of the connection, also known as throughput.

Third, by definition they are both different, in use and purpose; as much as your comparison among devices.  Even if you have 2 F1 from McLaren prepared by the same mechanical team racing together that doesn't mean they will have the same performance.

Lastly.... if you are to perform MBps compare the same model of devices at stock level and one at time with no other device connected but the tester.  Hope you understand why!?.  If your router allows it, you should be able to see which devices are connected to it, at what speed and which band (interface) they are using... this could be better than a speedtest to the internet.

Good Luck!!
Robert RComputer Service Technician

I think if both give the same results during a speed test it is possible they are not putting out a higher signal because it is not necessary to do so. As the stronger the signal the more dangerous the phones, the stronger the signal the more radiation which can cause cancer. I would rather go with the weaker signal as long as it does not affect performance.
Distinguished Expert 2019
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turned off Wi–Fi Assistant and ejected sim & reinsert: ok!

So strange this would cause this issue.  Also the model is A1901 (both iphones).


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