Need a convenient way to test Wi-Fi speed with your Android phone? The best app for the task depends on the measurements you’re trying to collect. I’ll assume you’re familiar with data rates and other metrics attached to network speed, and examine five common use case scenarios where WLAN performance comes into consideration. With that in mind, we’ll look at the best Android apps for conducting wireless network analysis and monitoring in each situation.
Take an initial snapshot of connectivity where you are: If you need simple download-upload-latency rates for the Android mobile device currently in your hands, you need only a Chrome browser. Simply navigate to www.speedof.me to run a check from any endpoint. There’s no need for a flash player or java plugin to perform the speed test. Use it as a “first glance” for transfer speeds on a Wi-Fi network, or over a G3/G4 LTE connection.
Locate where is the WLAN weak and strong: If you’re looking for the best spot for a smart TV, or determining places where another access point would benefit the wireless network, WiFi SweetSpots provides real-time throughput data based on where you’re standing. This app essentially will create a Wi-Fi heat map in your immediate proximity, and give you a real-time look at how fast data travels to certain areas around your WLAN. Need help planning how to boost Wi-Fi on an office network? Here’s a go-to free tool for the initial steps.
Sniff out shady bandwidth use: Worried about nefarious users on a Wi-Fi network? Check out Network Tools by Fing. It discovers devices on any Wi-Fi network and provides endpoint details, open ports, device behavior, and a dozen or so connectivity data points to track. You may sort and save information, and set up alerts around certain thresholds. Fing is great for SOHO network needs, and if you’d like it on a larger scale, you might consider its big brother Domotz for a full-on enterprise solution.
Conducting basic WLAN monitoring (non-IT SMB owners): If you want a simple, constant monitor on Wi-Fi networks—or several of them—the WiFi Data application fits most DIY SMB monitoring and analysis scenarios, and has a few remote wireless configurations for small offices features to boot. Experts contend it’s not a formal front-line solution for anything “mission-critical” or industry compliance-related. That’s fair. But in a pinch, or as a temporary solution while scaling up, WiFi Data does a fine job.
When WLAN performance is the reason they hired you: If there is a de facto tool of choice for network professionals, iPerf is probably it. iPerf boasts a suite of functionality; its Wi-Fi speed measurements dig into packet travel time between a server/router and network endpoints. If you’re already familiar, and have enough prowess configuring network devices from a CLI, go ahead and check out iPerf Android app. Know that iPerf isn’t for everyone. It does have a front-end GUI, called jperf, but still might be too esoteric if you’re a DIY business owner without a formal networking background.
Are free applications OK for business-grade network monitoring?
You will get a lot of mileage from free applications measuring wireless throughput—even if you’re running a small business and your network is larger than the average home user. The tools mentioned here suffice for a business of any size that wants a picture of its Wi-Fi network speed.
Whether they are “good enough” depends on your attitude towards wireless. What are the repercussions of downtime of your WLAN? How much money do you lose if somebody can’t work because of spotty Wi-Fi? That’s just from a speed standpoint—from a compliance and security perspective you need to consider things like PCI rules in retail, HIPAA in healthcare, and other industry-specific regulations connected with network security and personal data.
Chances are your business cannot afford a data breach and regulatory fines. When that is the case, installing a secure small office network setup requires a business-grade firewall or UTM. Most hardware of this variety has a front-end application for Android mobile devices for control and monitoring. Regardless, measuring Wi-Fi speed with a standalone Android application realizes value as a vetting tool.