Wifi 2.4ghz vs 5ghz - Watch

barjam

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jul 4, 2010
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185
The apple watch only does 2.4ghz.

Fine. But IOS doesn't have the ability to have a preferred network. That means that if I want to use apple watch on wifi at home my only option is to have my phones, iPad and such prefer 2.4ghz which is much, much slower than 802.11ac. I am not going to do that so basically the apple watch's wifi feature isn't of any use to me.

Anyone know of a way around this?
 

bcaslis

macrumors 68020
Mar 11, 2008
2,166
197
I have dual-band Apple Extreme basestations which are setup this way and the watch never connects to the wifi.
 

barjam

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jul 4, 2010
385
185
Set your SSID and password the same for both bands, and you will be set.
That doesn't work as iOS isn't smart enough to favor the frequency with the higher bandwidth it only favors the highest signal strength.
 

Cremerhm

macrumors 6502
Mar 24, 2012
385
132
The Netherlands
Just tested: my phone is connected to the 5ghz (has its own ssid) and watch is connect to 2.4ghz... No problems at all!

From what I've read before if you have problems with the wifi due to 5ghz/2.4ghz:
unpair phone and watch
disconnect iPhone from wifi
connect iPhone to 2.4ghz wifi
pair phone and watch
disable Bluetooth
check if the watch connects through wifi
connect iPhone to 2.4ghz
 
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Enygmatic

macrumors 6502a
Jan 27, 2015
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This post made me want to play around with this; here's what I've discovered:

(w/Airport Extreme and Airport Time Capsule, newest AC versions)

Dual SSIDs... similar naming for each band, but not identical; same password

I, like OP, keep my capable devices on the 802.11 ac/5Ghz band... I never really considered the Watch using wifi, though, because it's constantly paired via Bluetooth. (Any reason for me not to? Serious question - getting great battery life, for a non-Plus version)

A couple of days ago, I left my iPhone at a shop on base to repair my shattered screen, and figured I wouldn't get much use out of the Watch for the 4 hours or so that they'd have it. Went home, and the Watch showed the little "Disconnected" icon as I walked through the door. Cool. Maybe 10 minutes later, I get an iMessage on my Watch from my wife. Phone's literally a mile away. I swipe to the Settings glance, and there's the little Cloud icon. Nice. So it does work. Just wish I had noted how long it took to connect.

Fast-forward to about 10 minutes ago, reading this thread; I disable Bluetooth on my phone, and the Watch disconnects... I let my phone see the 2.4Ghz band, which I don't normally have known to my devices, and the Watch connects in about 2 seconds. I turn Bluetooth back on, and the Watch prefers that connection in under a second. Turn Bluetooth back off, it immediately connects to the 2.4Ghz wifi.

Then I "forget" that band, and just have my 5GHz band; repeat the same steps. Everything appears the same, except it takes the Watch about a minute to connect via wifi. This could be because the phone is on a different band, or because the bands aren't identically named, but it does eventually connect. Bluetooth still wins out as far as the Watch's preference.

I guess this makes sense... the Watch connects to wifi at home if you're far enough away from the phone where you're out of Bluetooth range; I guess I'm rarely that far away, and/or not for long enough for the 5Ghz band to kick in. It's not a setting I regularly check, but just this quick little test - that seems to be what's happening.

TL;DR

OP, dual-bands do seem to work in our situation, it just takes a minute for the Watch to respond. As of now (photo), Watch is connected to wifi, and iPhone is connected to 5Ghz band (2.4Ghz "forgotten").
 

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Farsider

macrumors 6502a
Jul 30, 2014
551
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London, UK
Dual Band AirPort Extreme here. 5Ghz & 2.4Ghz enabled and set to the same SSID.

If I turn on AirPlay Mode on my phone, my Watch briefly shows the 'disconnected from phone' red icon, then displays 'Connected' with the green cloud icon.

....so it can work.
 

Cremerhm

macrumors 6502
Mar 24, 2012
385
132
The Netherlands
Question is: with which network does you're iPhone connect, the 2.4 or the 5ghz?

Since you have the same ssid my guess would be it connects to the 2.4 network since this will be the "strongest" one.

If you do it like I've said two post ago, you're iPhone has aconnection with the 5ghz and the watch will be connected to the 2.4
 

exxxviii

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May 20, 2015
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That doesn't work as iOS isn't smart enough to favor the frequency with the higher bandwidth it only favors the highest signal strength.
It does not matter. If both bands are on the same SSID, then both devices will connect. It is the way that dual-band WiFi was intended to work.
Question is: with which network does you're iPhone connect, the 2.4 or the 5ghz?
The WiFi spec is designed so that the client will choose the best network and band based on its needs. 5GHz has higher potential speed, but it has greater attenuation through walls. 2.4GHz gives better signal strength overall. So, setup both on the same SSID, and allow the client to do its job. The client will flip between bands as you move around and its needs shift. I recommend against trying to outsmart a network client, because it leads to poorer network access and performance in general.
 
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rigormortis

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Jun 11, 2009
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i hope the OP doesn't have an older iPhone 5. that only had 1 x 1 spatial streams.. and the whole 5 ghz preference is moot if the phone is incapable of connecting faster then 72 mbit @ 5 ghz

5 ghz wii speeds
1 x 1 72
2 x 2 300
3 x 3 450
4 x 4 ????

if you have dual band simultaneous wifi, and if the iPhone is at 5 ghz and the watch is 2ghz
and you use different names or not, it should still work because watch os 2 is supposed to
be able f to connect to a wifi network on its own, as long as it is known in other words the iPhone needs both passwords and it will push it to the watch using iCloud

if you see a cloud, it means the watch is connected to wifi on its own and it does not need the iPhone in close proximity.
 

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cowfish

macrumors member
Jul 23, 2009
46
16
What I did was join both 2.4 and 5ghz with my phone, which allows the watch to connect to 2.4 ghz. Then, went into MAC address filtering in my router and under the 2.4 network, I set it to block the MAC address of my phone from connecting to the 2.4 network. So, my watch connects to 2.4 and my phone always connects to 5ghz. Works great for months now.
 
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barjam

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jul 4, 2010
385
185
It does not matter. If both bands are on the same SSID, then both devices will connect. It is the way that dual-band WiFi was intended to work.

The WiFi spec is designed so that the client will choose the best network and band based on its needs. 5GHz has higher potential speed, but it has greater attenuation through walls. 2.4GHz gives better signal strength overall. So, setup both on the same SSID, and allow the client to do its job. The client will flip between bands as you move around and its needs shift. I recommend against trying to outsmart a network client, because it leads to poorer network access and performance in general.
The problem is wireless devices are too dumb to do this right. They will favor a stronger 2.4 signal signal doing 5mbps vs a slightly weaker 5ghz signal pulling 50+Mbps. This is why I have to split the 2.4/5 at my house it isn't reliable to combine them.
 

barjam

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jul 4, 2010
385
185
i hope the OP doesn't have an older iPhone 5. that only had 1 x 1 spatial streams.. and the whole 5 ghz preference is moot if the phone is incapable of connecting faster then 72 mbit @ 5 ghz

5 ghz wii speeds
1 x 1 72
2 x 2 300
3 x 3 450
4 x 4 ????

if you have dual band simultaneous wifi, and if the iPhone is at 5 ghz and the watch is 2ghz
and you use different names or not, it should still work because watch os 2 is supposed to
be able f to connect to a wifi network on its own, as long as it is known in other words the iPhone needs both passwords and it will push it to the watch using iCloud

if you see a cloud, it means the watch is connected to wifi on its own and it does not need the iPhone in close proximity.
This doesn't work. If the phone knows about the 2.4 it will get stuck with it. At my house the 2.4 is good for about 5mbps in my bedroom while the weaker 5ghz signals is good for well over 50mbps. I can push it to 5ghz manually but I will auto switch.
 

barjam

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jul 4, 2010
385
185
What I did was join both 2.4 and 5ghz with my phone, which allows the watch to connect to 2.4 ghz. Then, went into MAC address filtering in my router and under the 2.4 network, I set it to block the MAC address of my phone from connecting to the 2.4 network. So, my watch connects to 2.4 and my phone always connects to 5ghz. Works great for months now.
Awesome idea. Unfortunately my router can't do that.
 

barjam

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jul 4, 2010
385
185
i hope the OP doesn't have an older iPhone 5. that only had 1 x 1 spatial streams.. and the whole 5 ghz preference is moot if the phone is incapable of connecting faster then 72 mbit @ 5 ghz

5 ghz wii speeds
1 x 1 72
2 x 2 300
3 x 3 450
4 x 4 ????

if you have dual band simultaneous wifi, and if the iPhone is at 5 ghz and the watch is 2ghz
and you use different names or not, it should still work because watch os 2 is supposed to
be able f to connect to a wifi network on its own, as long as it is known in other words the iPhone needs both passwords and it will push it to the watch using iCloud

if you see a cloud, it means the watch is connected to wifi on its own and it does not need the iPhone in close proximity.
iPhone 6. The problem is that if the phone knows about 2.4 and 5 it will favor the 2.4 more often than not because it is stronger but has much less bandwidth.
 

rigormortis

macrumors 68000
Jun 11, 2009
1,813
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iPhone 6. The problem is that if the phone knows about 2.4 and 5 it will favor the 2.4 more often than not because it is stronger but has much less bandwidth.
i don't know anything about how many wifi antennas the iPhone 6 has.i tried looking it up, but those records are not available. but phones in general do not have the number of wifi antennas that a regular laptop or a wifi card / router have.
and if you just assume that 5ghz wifi will give your phone 300 mbit, you are probably totally wrong.

except the 6 and 6s. i don't know.

i think maybe its top 5 ghz speed is only 100 mbit

I've heard the 6s is full 802.11ac
ok i checked the 6s is full 300 mbit
the top speed of an iPhone 6 is 150 mbit
the top speed of an amazon fire phone connected at 5ghz is 72 mbit
the top speed of an apple watch is 72 mbit
 
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JT2002TJ

macrumors 65816
Nov 7, 2013
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What I did was join both 2.4 and 5ghz with my phone, which allows the watch to connect to 2.4 ghz. Then, went into MAC address filtering in my router and under the 2.4 network, I set it to block the MAC address of my phone from connecting to the 2.4 network. So, my watch connects to 2.4 and my phone always connects to 5ghz. Works great for months now.
I wish there was more I could do then just "like" your post. I was trying to figure out a way, and was upset about how apple screwed us. I will try this, but see no logical reason this wouldn't work.

I have a 6+, and get more than double the network speeds (bandwidth meter testing to the web) when on 5 ghz ac vs. 2.4. My 6+ will ALWAYS hang onto the 2.4, was very annoying. On my ipad I simply forgot the 2.4 ghz network, but can't do that with the phone because of the watch.
 

JT2002TJ

macrumors 65816
Nov 7, 2013
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Awesome idea. Unfortunately my router can't do that.
What router do you have? You also can use your router, turn off wireless, and add your own AC dual band router (and turn of the DHCP on it, so it acts just like a wireless access point, an doesn't "route").
 

barjam

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jul 4, 2010
385
185
i don't know anything about how many wifi antennas the iPhone 6 has.i tried looking it up, but those records are not available. but phones in general do not have the number of wifi antennas that a regular laptop or a wifi card / router have.
and if you just assume that 5ghz wifi will give your phone 300 mbit, you are probably totally wrong.

except the 6 and 6s. i don't know.

i think maybe its top 5 ghz speed is only 100 mbit

I've heard the 6s is full 802.11ac
ok i checked the 6s is full 300 mbit
the top speed of an iPhone 6 is 150 mbit
the top speed of an amazon fire phone connected at 5ghz is 72 mbit
the top speed of an apple watch is 72 mbit
The 6 maxes out my internet connection on 5ghz (only thing I have a speed test for) at 50mbs. On 2.4 even sitting right next to the router it can't do this. There is too much 2.4 contention in my neighborhood.

I can have full 2.4 signal strength in my bedroom while only seeing 3mbps while 5ghz anywhere in my house will saturate my internet connection.
 

barjam

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jul 4, 2010
385
185
What router do you have? You also can use your router, turn off wireless, and add your own AC dual band router (and turn of the DHCP on it, so it acts just like a wireless access point, an doesn't "route").
AirPort Extreme. I would rather forget wifi for the watch than replace this honestly. Wifi on the watch is just a novelty feature at this point. I will have google fiber in a few months so buying a router now wouldn't make sense.

I have noticed that forgetting the 2.4ghz network on the phone doesn't necessarily forget it on the watch which makes me wonder how a person would forget a network on the watch.
 

JT2002TJ

macrumors 65816
Nov 7, 2013
1,062
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AirPort Extreme. I would rather forget wifi for the watch than replace this honestly. Wifi on the watch is just a novelty feature at this point. I will have google fiber in a few months so buying a router now wouldn't make sense.

I have noticed that forgetting the 2.4ghz network on the phone doesn't necessarily forget it on the watch which makes me wonder how a person would forget a network on the watch.
It can be done with the AirPort Extreme, just like you can split out your 2.4 from your 5 ghz networks. You may need to find a different version of the utility, but it can be done.

When I forgot my 2.4 ghz, my watch wouldn't connect to wifi anymore (granted this was before watchOS 2.0).
 

exxxviii

macrumors 65816
May 20, 2015
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The problem is wireless devices are too dumb to do this right. ... AirPort Extreme.
Here is one radical thought... Consider dumping the AirPort Extreme for a more robust router. In my experience and reading reviews and forum comments, Apple is pretty weak in the WiFi networking space. There are a number of significantly better home WiFi routers out there. My current favorites are Asus.

If you have a better WiFi router, the client may make better band choices. Who knows. On my Asus and my neighbor's Asus, we can see iOS devices dynamically switching between the bands.

The other thing worth considering is adding another access point. I have a two-story house with a basement. I have one router in the basement that is functioning as my core router. Then, I have a second configured solely as an access point on the upstairs floor at the opposite end of the house. I get perfect WiFi coverage everywhere and I never give band or signal strength a thought for any of my devices. (I have a lot of stuff on my network, so the level of individual device, band, and MAC-address tailoring mentioned above is not viable for me. I found it is best to build a robust network and then let the devices and network clients do their tasks.)
 
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