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The Best WiFi Channel Scanners for Android and Why You Need One

In order to address the challenges of maintaining and optimizing WiFi networks, various hardware tools and software applications are employed for your Android device. One of the most useful is the WiFi channel scanner.
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  • NetSpot for Android
  • Best WiFi Channel Scanners app
  • 4.9
  • 231 User reviews
Internet access through WiFi networks and hotspots is becoming more prevalent every day. Many homeowners are opting for the convenience of a WiFi network versus that of more traditional wired implementations.

Business owners are finding that it is almost a necessity to provide WiFi coverage for their employees and customers. Go to any Starbucks and you are bound to see patrons accessing the Internet with their mobile devices and laptops through the free WiFi provided by the establishment.

What is a WiFi Channel Scanner?

While WiFi networks offer the benefit of increased flexibility that is absent in wired networks, they are more complicated to administer. Issues such as access point placement, signal strength, and the choice between different frequencies and channels all add to the complexity of maintaining a WiFi network. Instead of just plugging into the wall outlet you need to be concerned with hardware components such as routers and extenders.

Issues can arise from neighboring WiFi installations or changes in the internal configuration of the coverage area. There are a lot of hardware and software applications to help and a WiFi channel scanner is one of the most useful among them.

identify nearby wireless networks and supply details of various network characteristics

A WiFi channel scanner is a tool that is designed to enable the user to identify nearby wireless networks and supply details of various network characteristics and statistics. They are an indispensable tool when planning, installing, and maintaining a WiFi network.

In the not too distant past, the best way to scan WiFi networks was with a dedicated, self-contained, handheld device. Today you can still find these devices but there are a number of other options available to you. You can install WiFi channel scanning software on your desktop or laptop computer as well as on smartphones and tablets.

The utility of a WiFi scanner is tied in part to its size. As we will see later in the article, the ability to scan your network from various locations in your coverage area is critical in optimizing your network. Therefore, it is better to install wireless scanning software on a laptop than a desktop computer. It’s even better to use your Android device as your WiFi scanner.

What Information Can A Wireless Scanner Provide?

There is a wealth of information that a WiFi scanner can provide you concerning your and surrounding networks. Let’s take a look at what these bits of information can tell you about your network.

SSID – The Service Set Identifier (SSID) is simply the name of the network. This field will indicate which network you are currently connected to and provide the names of all wireless networks that are in range. You may see SSIDs that are hidden, meaning that the only way to access the network is to already know its name.
BSSID – The Basic Service Set Identifier (BSSID) identifies the MAC address of the access point.
Alias – If the network has an alias it will appear in this field.
Channel – This field shows the channel that the WiFi network is using for data transmission. The channel is determined by your WiFi router’s configuration.
Band – WiFi networks broadcast radio waves in either the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz frequencies. The band field indicates which frequency is in use by a given network.
Security – Here you will find the type of security that is protecting the network.
Vendor – This field displays the manufacturer of the WiFi router that is powering the network.
Mode – The mode field shows which wireless modes the network’s router supports.
Level (SNR) – The signal to noise ratio is a comparison between the level of the WiFi signal to the level of background noise.
Signal and Signal % – These fields indicate the strength of the network signal and will also show the signal’s maximum, minimum, and average strengths.
Noise and Noise % – Here you can see the noise level and percentage that is affecting a specific network.
Last seen – This field will tell you how long it has been since the WiFi network in question has been in range and scanned.

Why Would I Need to Use a WiFi Channel Scanner?

There are a number of instances where a WiFi channel scanner can be instrumental in the maintenance and optimization of a wireless network. Let’s look at a few of them.

  • Addressing slow WiFi network performance – One common cause of slow WiFi performance is many nearby networks using the same channel for data transmission. Using a WiFi scanner enables you to see which channel you and your neighbors are using so you can find the best WiFi channel for your network. You might have to consult your router’s documentation to find out how to change the WiFi channel on your particular device. It is well worth the time spent to fix a slow network.
  • Optimizing router and access point locations – Performing a site survey of your intended coverage area using your router and the channel scanner will help you find the best placement for the router and any additional extenders or access points. You can also use the survey to eliminate physical obstructions and create clear lines of vision from your router to the devices it will serve.
  • Identifying signal leak – Just as your channel selection may be impacted by neighboring WiFi networks, the signal from your router can extend far beyond the intended coverage area. Through the use of a WiFi scanner, you can determine if your signal poses potential security risks by allowing unauthorized users to gain entry through rogue access points.

The Best 5 WiFi Channel Scanners for Android

If you have an Android device, it is the logical home for your WiFi channel scanning software. It’s extremely portable, making it easier to perform site surveys and test your signal from throughout your coverage area. There are many WiFi scanning apps developed for the Android platform. Here are five of the best in our opinion :

#1
NetSpot for Android — will help you quickly find channel clashes with neighboring networks and enable you to determine how to configure your wireless for the best performance.
#2
WiFi Analyzer — is extremely easy to use and free app for the Android. It is perfect for finding which channels are in use.
#3
WiFi Channel Analyzer — is a paid app that provides all of the network and channel details that you need.
#4
WiFi Expert — is a free Android app that gives you the complete details of the surrounding WiFi networks.
#5
WiFi Monitor — is a free Android app that can provide charts detailing network signal strength and connection speeds.
choice #1
NetSpot for Android
WiFi Channel Scanner app runs on a Android (OS 6.0+)
  • 4.9
  • 231 User reviews
  • 50K
  • Installs
This free app is an Android port of the well-regarded WiFi analyzer for the Mac and Windows platforms. It will help you quickly find channel clashes with neighboring networks and enable you to determine how to configure your wireless for the best performance.
It is very easy to use and will help even a networking novice to optimize their home WiFi installation.
choice #2
Available for Android 6.0 and up
  • Not Enough Ratings

This extremely easy to use and free app for the Android is perfect for finding which channels are in use in your vicinity to enable you to use a less crowded one.

WiFi Analyzer
WiFi Analyzer
Its graphical display indicates which channels will work best for your router, simplifying the decision of which one to choose.
choice #3
Available for Android 2.3.2+
  • Not Enough Ratings

This is a paid app that provides all of the network and channel details that you need in order to make informed choices when optimizing your network.

WiFi Channel Analyzer
WiFi Channel Analyzer
The app makes it easy to find the least congested channels in your area and move your network to one of them.
choice #4
Available for Android 4.2 and up
  • Not Enough Ratings

Here is another free Android app that gives you the complete details of the surrounding WiFi networks.

WiFi Expert
WiFi Expert
It can be used to locate appropriate channels as well as other details such as the devices that are attached to your network.
choice #5
Available for Android 4.0 and up
  • Not Enough Ratings

Rounding out our list of WiFi channel scanners is this free Android app that can provide charts detailing network signal strength and connection speeds.

WiFi Monitor
WiFi Monitor
It also reports on all aspects of surrounding networks including the channels that are in use.

How to Choose the Best WiFi Channel on Android

With a capable WiFi channel scanner for Android, you can easily choose the best WiFi channel to instantly improve your internet speed and stability.

But before we explain how to choose the best WiFi channel on Android with NetSpot for Android, let’s first go over the basics of WiFi channel setup in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands:

  • 2.4 GHz: In the 2.4 GHz band, there are 11 channels (at least in North America), and they are all spaced 5 MHz apart from each other. Because each channel occupies at least 20 MHz, there’s considerable overlap between channels. Only channels 1, 6, and 11 are non-overlapping, which means they don’t interfere with one another. When choosing a new WiFi channel in the 2.4 GHz band, it’s highly recommended to stick to the three non-overlapping channels since they can yield better WiFi performance than other channels.
2.4 GHz
  • 5 GHz: The situation is completely different in the 5 GHz band. In this frequency band, there are channels ranging from 36 up to 165, each 20 MHz wide because only every fourth channel is used, which eliminates the problem with channel overlap that’s been plaguing 2.4 GHz networks for ages. While some channels in the 5 GHz band are restricted for certain applications, finding a suitable channel is generally not a huge challenge since there is more capacity and less interference.
2.4 GHz vs 5 GHz

Find the Best WiFi Channel on Android with NetSpot for Android:

NetSpot for Android makes it easy to find the best WiFi channel directly on your Android smartphone — no special equipment or skills required. Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1: Install NetSpot for Android

You can download NetSpot for Android directly from the Google Play Store and install it just like you would any other Android app. NetSpot for Android is free, and it runs on all Android devices with Android 6.0 or later.

Step 2: Launch NetSpot for Android

With NetSpot installed on your Android device, you can go ahead and launch it. You will be asked to grant it access to the Location services. This is a mandatory requirement for Android apps working with WiFi data due to recent changes in the platform.

Launch NetSpot for Android

Step 3: Switch to the Comparison tab

As soon as you launch NetSpot for Android, you will see a list of all available WiFi networks. For each network, NetSpot displays its signal strength, band, channel number, SSID, and BSSID.

Switch to the Comparison tab

To find the best WiFi channel available, switch to the Comparison tab, where you can see a graph with the channels 2.4 GHz/5 GHz WiFi networks broadcast on. Look at the graph and determine which channel is busy the least—that’s the channel you want to switch your router to.

How to Change a WiFi Channel

Once you’ve found the best WiFi channel available in your area, you need to configure your WiFi router to use it. Since there are countless different WiFi routers, and they all have their own unique admin interfaces, we can only give you general instructions, so keep that in mind and be ready to improvise.

To change a WiFi channel on a router:

  1. Log in to your router’s admin interface in your web browser.
192.168.1.1
  1. Go to the Settings page and look for an option called WiFi channel.
  2. Select the new WiFi channel.
WiFi settings
  1. Save your settings.
  2. Restart your router.

After you’ve switched your router to the new WiFi channel, we highly recommend you use NetSpot for Android again to verify that the router is really broadcasting on the new channel.

SO, WE RECOMMEND
NetSpot for Android
WiFi Channel Scanner app runs on a Android (OS 6.0+)
  • 4.9
  • 231 User reviews
  • #1
  • WiFi Channel Scanner app

  • 50K
  • Installs
  • 2018
  • Released
  • Platform
  • Android

Though all of these apps will provide you with channel information regarding your WiFi network, we think that NetSpot is the clear leader due to its advanced functionality and display capabilities. The application had a substantial track record on other platforms before moving to Android. Install it on your device today and see how you can improve your WiFi network’s performance when armed with some real knowledge.
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Read next in All about Wi-Fi

If you want to get more information about Wi-Fi, check out the following articles about Wi-Fi routers, the best apps for wireless networking, WiFi signal, etc.
NetSpot for Android
Analyze and compare, fix issues with WiFi — all on your Android phone or tablet. You'll need Android OS 6.0+
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