Core/Photon/External antenna comparison

Just an FYI for others, I’ve found the internal Photon antenna isn’t as good as the Core antenna. I was replacing a dying core with a new photon and found that it couldn’t connect to the wifi whereas the Core had been working fine in that location for over a year. So I found a location where they could both connect, roughly 50ft away between 2-3 walls and did some tests. I also tried using a ~5" stick antenna from an old router with the Photon’s external connector. Here’s the average rssi for each over a 10min period:

Photon (internal): -77.5 dBm
Core (internal): -70.8 dBm
Photon (external): -53 dBm

I did a 2nd test at the location that doesn’t work with the Photon’s internal antenna:
Core (internal): -73.1 dBm
Photon (external): -68 dBm

The external antenna placement for the 2nd test was not optimal but it solved my issue.

Hey @Fragma. This is actually a pretty big topic technically speaking, but there are a lot of reasons for the different signal strengths you are seeing, including design and environmental factors that could change perception on which device is ‘better’ or not, depending on the factors involved. Those values might even vary between different Cores and Photons. This is not meant to validate or invalidate your tests or perceptions, just shed some light on how complicated this area is!

A few things that would affect readings, or even how readings might be compared:

  • Cores only connect on 2.4GHz (802.11 b/g)
  • Photons can connect on 2.4GHz (802.11 b/g/n)
  • Photons have the ability to use an external antenna dynamically which will very slightly attenuate the chip antenna through the RF switch. That said, it’s a different antenna anyway and different layout so they can’t be compared in that way.
  • The RF plots from the antenna testing we did suggest the Photon is better in some orientations and slightly worse in a different orientation.
  • When comparing RSSI values, you have to do it with one point of reference, i.e., the router’s readings. Comparing on each device won’t work because they are all tuned differently.
  • You might have a higher range connection with one router over another, but have higher throughput with the lower range device, so even there which is ‘better’ is dependent on your needs.

Just some quick thoughts. Signal is an interesting topic for sure! Thanks!