We've not seen a new Google Nest Wifi product since 2019, but the rumor is that Google is about to push out a substantial upgrade to its range of mesh routers – and this time the latest Wi-Fi 6 speeds and technologies are going to be supported.
This is according to an anonymous source speaking to 9to5Google, which can usually be depended on for accurate information. It also sounds as though the smart home networking kit that Google offers is going to be simplified to some extent.
A jump from Wi-Fi 5 (supported by the current line-up) to Wi-Fi 6 should see potential speed increases of up to 9.6 Gbps from 3.5 Gbps, assuming other connected devices are Wi-Fi 6 compatible. However, the source was unable to confirm whether or not the very latest Wi-Fi 6E standard would be adopted by the hardware.
Google Wifi vs Nest Wifi
Right now in the US you can pick up both a Nest Wifi pack and a Google Wifi pack, a rather confusing state of affairs. The latter devices don't offer Google Assistant support, but do have Ethernet ports on board, and are all identical: they can all act as routers connected to the internet and as satellite nodes expanding the mesh network.
In the current Nest Wifi series, there are routers and there are satellite nodes as distinct options. That is set to change with this update, so the Nest Wifi series will become more like the Google WiFi series (which last got a refresh in 2020).
For the time being we don't have a specific launch date for the next Nest Wifi products, though we wouldn't have thought they would be too far out. They are likely to come in a variety of colors, the report suggests, although as yet it's not clear whether or not Google Assistant will be on board again.
Analysis: overdue an upgrade
The original Google Wifi mesh networking system was introduced all the way back in 2016 and was quite advanced for its time. The idea of having several devices spread around the home to maximize Wi-Fi coverage everywhere was still fairly novel.
Since then, through the introduction of the friendlier-looking Nest devices, Google has really been overtaken by the competition. A mesh networking system like the Amazon Eero 6 already has Wi-Fi 6 built in, for example, and it's just as simple and straightforward to operate as the products that Google has on offer.
At the higher end, companies including Netgear and Linksys have been putting out premium networking gear that can cover huge areas with superfast Wi-Fi. A device such as the Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 costs substantially more than Google Nest Wifi, but at the same time it also offers a significantly better level of performance and features.
That's the sort of competition that Google is up against, and an update for its mesh networking hardware is now long overdue. The introduction of Wi-Fi 6 will be a good start for the new models, but as always pricing is going to be crucial.
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Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.