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Frequent travelers know that Android's ability to create a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot anywhere is a lifesaver. But it's also best to use 5GHz Wi-Fi if at all possible, because the close quarters of use for a laptop result in higher speeds. The latest change spotted in Android 12 Developer Preview 3 really steers users towards that choice, going so far as to hide the 2.4GHz setting in another sub-menu.
If you go to the hotspot settings menu on an Android 11 device, you'll see an option to choose an access point (AP) band between the older 2.4GHz band or a dual mode labelled "5.0GHz band preferred." In Android 12 DP3, this choice is hidden under the "Advanced" drop-down menu, and it's re-labelled. The switch is now "Maximize compatibility," no mention of bands, and a warning that speeds will be lower and battery will drain faster.
2.4GHz/5GHz hotspot options in Android 11 and Android 12 DP3 (right)
It's an odd obfuscation of technical data for such an advanced feature. Google may be thinking that anyone using a phone for tethered Internet access is using a fairly recent laptop or tablet. It's certainly been a long time since I've seen any new Wi-Fi gadget (except cheap smart home equipment) restricted to 2.4GHz bands. But I think Android's makers might be discounting the better range of the older and slower Wi-Fi bands, especially outdoors.
We'll have to wait and see if this change makes its way into future developer preview releases, or the public release of Android 12.
For more about Android 12, check out our ongoing series coverage here, or bookmark our regularly updated changelog and check back in later. If you want to install the developer preview on your own device, find out how in our Android 12 download guide.