Review: Top Android Wi-Fi stumblers and analyzers for under $10

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On the Access Points tab, you see a list of all the access points, which you can sort by name, channel, security, and signal. For each access point, it gives the SSID, MAC Address, channel, signal in negative dBm, signal represented on a small signal bar indicator, and the supported security protocol (WEP, WPA, or WPA2). Tapping on a network brings up it’s network details, which includes the same info on the main list, plus the detected access point vendor and the exact security capabilities (such as WPA2-PSK or WAP2-EAP).

On the Channels tab is a channel usage graph showing the signal strengths of each AP, which you can toggle between the 2.4- and 5-GHz bands.

On the Signal tab is a line graph showing the signal strength of each access point over time. Though the color-coding legend isn’t visible by default, you can tap the Nets List shortcut to see it. You can tap a name from that list to highlight or only show it on the signal graph.

In the upper-right of the app, there are always a few buttons or shortcuts. The first is an On/Off button that enables/disables the device’s Wi-Fi capability. The second shortcut takes you to the Settings screen, where you can change the app theme, enable/disable screen lock, status bar, auto Wi-Fi on and off when starting and closing the app. The third button provides exporting functionality by allowing you to share or copy the data from each of the app’s tabs.

WiFi Insight

WiFi Insight is the only app from RidgeSoft. It’s currently $1.49 via the Google Play store and has nearly a 5 out of 5 star rating from 31 users. We looked at version 1.0.2.

The app opens to the Overview page where you see a table of the amount of networks, access points, and services detected in total and for 2.4GHz and 5GHz separately. Under that is a list of the network names and their basic info: frequency band, signal level shown in a simple bar graph and the negative dBm value, and the amount of services. On the top of the page, you can filter both the table and list based upon the network name, channel/band, and a particular access point.

The Networks page offers the same network list as the Overview page, but you can tap a network to view additional info on the bottom. That includes the MAC address, channel number, vendor, network type, and supported security protocols. If the network contains more than one access point with that same network name, the additional info on the bottom is shown for each individual access point. You can also filter the list by the channel/band and a particular access point.

The Access Points page shows a similar list as the Networks page, but this one lists each access point individually on the main list. The same additional info on the bottom is also shown, but this one shows all the SSIDs broadcasting from the selected access point. From this page you can select an access point and click the edit (pencil) button to customize the name and vendor displayed for it throughout the app.

The Services page lists each access point with it’s network name along with the same additional info.

wifi stumblers droid features

The Channels page shows a bar graph of the channel usage for both frequency bands and is switchable between showing the number of access points and number of services. The graph is unique in that it tries to distinguish between the number of tuned access points and overlapping access points, each represented by a different color on the bar graph.

The Signals page shows a moving line graph of the signals from the access points. There is also an access point list (the first being the currently connected one) along with details, such as the vendor, MAC address, channel, and signal bar and negative dBm values. Again, the graph and list can be filtered by network name, channel/band and a particular access point.

The Roaming page shows a similar signal graph and access point list as from the Signals page but only shows access points that you’ve recently roamed between. This allows you to evaluate how well the device roams, for instance if it’s sticking with access points too long when there’s an access point with a better signal or if it’s jumping around too much.

The only configurable option in the app is the Configure access points feature, which allows you to customize the name and vendor displayed for access points throughout the app. You can edit the saved access point details or manually add access points by selecting the Configure access points option from the main menu of the app or quickly add via the edit (pencil) button on the Access Points page.

WiFi Insight doesn’t offer any type of saving or reporting, nor does it allow you to pause the scanning. The Help page is pretty thorough. In addition to covering the features of the app, it explains some related wireless terminology and concepts.

WiFi Overview 360 Pro

WiFi Overview 360 Pro is developed by Andreas Kraemer at KAIBITS Software, which offers additional network-related and various other misc apps. This app is currently available on Google Play for $1.80 with an average over 4 out of 5 stars from 935 users. We reviewed version 2.54.01. There is a free edition as well with an average of 4 out of 5 stars from 10,749 users. However, it contains ads and lacks a couple features found in the Pro edition.

After opening the app, you’re taken to the Main tab. If currently connected to Wi-Fi, you’ll see the basic network details on the top: the SSID, IP address, and speed. Directly below that you find the amount of total access points, amount in 2.4 GHz and amount in 5 GHz. Next is a list of the detected access points along with their basic details: SSID, MAC address, supported security protocols, channel, signal in negative dBm values, and also a signal indicator bar. We should note that the security details on this network list don’t distinguish between the PSK and EAP/802.1X modes. You’ll just see WPA, WPA2, and/or WPS. However, clicking on a network will show that information along with shortcuts to connect to the network, and if already connected before, shortcuts to change the password, set priority, or delete/forget the network.

On the bottom of the Main tab, you find buttons to refresh the scan, set auto refresh interval, and sort by a few different criteria. Additionally, there’s a button to show all the networks saved by the device. You can then delete/forget those you choose or set the connection priorities of the networks, which are unique features when compared to the other apps we reviewed.

Clicking on the WLAN Info tab shows the details of your current Wi-Fi connection, including the signal strength in negative dBm and percentage values as well as represented a line graph and gage indicator. Other details include the access point’s MAC and DNS addresses, the device’s IP address, and even the external (WAN) IP.

On the Graphs tab you’ll find the details of your current on top and then below that a line graph for each access point’s signal strength over time. However, going to another tab in the app will reset the line graphs.

The Ch Check (Channel Check) tab shows the congestion ratings of the channels. On top you see what channel you’re currently connected to and its rating on the indicator bars and what the best or least congested channels are. Below that are the indicator bars for all the 2.4-GHz channels. You can click the 5-GHz button on the bottom to view those channels as well.

On the last tab, Ch Radar (Channel Radar) is a channel usage graph showing signal strengths of the 2.4-GHz band. You can click the 5-GHz button on the bottom to view that band too.

On the top-right of the main portion of the app are always two shortcuts. One is to the Wi-Fi signal Stability tool, which runs pings to the router and displays the results along with a signal strength gauge and indicator. You can also enable the beeping sound to help judge signal strength as you walk around. The second shortcut on the top-right is to the simple verify Internet tool that prompts you if an Internet connection is detected on the network you’re connected to.

There’s shortcuts to more tools on the menu, accessible by tapping in the upper-left. Other than those that lead to tools we already discussed, there’s a tool to set shortcuts for quickly connecting to networks and a tool to manually enter network details, for instance for hidden SSID networks. Also accessible via the menu are ping and trace tools, settings, and help.

In addition, it offers five customizable widgets you can place on your Android home screen(s) to quickly see the signal strength of your current connection and toggle Wi-Fi on/off.

WIFI Scan Pro

WIFI Scan Pro is developed by OTH, which offers two other Android apps as well. It only has two user ratings, averaging at about 2 ½ out of 5 stars. However, their free edition that has ads, shows a 4 out of 5 star rating from 2,305 users. We reviewed the Pro edition, version 2.0.

The app opens to the Nets tab, which shows a list of the access points along with their basic details: SSID, signal strength bars, and supported security protocols. Clicking on a listing will then show its MAC address, channel, and signal level in negative dBm values.

You can export the network list by generating a PDF report, by clicking Save from the app menu. For each access point the report contains the SSID, channel, signal strength in negative dBm values, and supported security protocols. Although it would be nice to see the IP and MAC addresses, they aren’t included.

The Plot tab shows a channel usage graph displaying the signal strength in negative dBm values of the access points. However, unfortunately, we found this graph to be inaccurate and unreliable. The graphic is supposed to be only for the 2.4 GHz band, but the 5 GHz access points are placed randomly on the channels. Thus if any 5 GHz access points are near, the graph won’t be correct. The developer says they are planning to fix this soon by adding a separate graph for 5 GHz.

You can export the channel usage graph along with the network list by generating a PDF report. Like when exporting on the Nets tab, you’d click Save from the app menu. The PDF report will contain an image of the current channel usage graph along with the same access point details when exporting the network list alone.

The Discover tab provides a host or port scanning that’s supposed to list the devices detected on the network. However, during our evaluation sometimes it would only detect the router and/or not detect all the devices. Additionally, it only provided the IP addresses of detected devices, whereas it’s supposed to provide the IP address and hostname to give you a clue as what the device actually is.

The Ping tab provides a simple ping tool. After entering an address and clicking the scan button on top, it reports “Fail” or comes back with standard ping results.

On the app menu, you’ll find the Save shortcut for Nets and Plot tabs and you’ll also see the Connection info shortcut. It takes you to a screen with the details of your current connection: SSID, access point MAC address, signal strength in negative dBm, link speed, and then your device’s MAC and IP addresses. We didn’t find any in-app help or online documentation, besides a quick overview of the app on their website.

WiFi Scanner

WiFi Scanner is the only app offered by Jason Mirwald on the Google Play store. It only has four user ratings, averaging at about 3 ½ out of 5 stars. We reviewed version 2.0.

After opening the app, you see a graph showing signal strength for access points, represented with a curve or arch to show the channel-widths and possible overlapping, on the 2.4-GHz band. You can tap the 5-GHz tab to view the channels on that band as well. By default, all access points have a green signal line, but if you monitor a particular access point it will be white and if you manually add any access points they will be red. However, unfortunately there are no labels to identify the SSIDs of the access points, on this or any other graph offered by the app.

Then for each band there are two additional sub-tabs, Noise and Time, you can tap on. The Noise sub-tab shows a bar graph of the signal levels and number of access points using subcarriers. In other words, it shows how many access points are on the same or overlapping channels and their signal strength. If any particular access point is being monitored, it will appear with a white rectangular shape. This Noise graph gives you a good idea of the amount of congestion on the channels and bands.

The Time sub-tab shows a line graph of the signal over a period of time from the access point (shown in green) you’re currently monitoring and any other access points (shown in red) that could be interfering. This can help you judge if and how much interference there is with your network.

On the bottom of the app are always three buttons. The left one is how you can start or pause scanning, the middle Monitor button takes you to a screen where you can select the access point you’d like to monitor, and the Add AP button allows you to manually add access points. You’d want to manually add access points for those hidden SSIDs you know exist but the device isn’t recognizing.

This WiFi Scanner app doesn’t offer any real saving or exporting, but you can pause scanning to temporally keep the captured data for reference until the app is ended. There is no in-app help nor could we find any documentation online.

Eric Geier is a freelance tech writer—keep up with his writings on Facebook or Twitter. He’s also the founder of NoWiresSecurity providing a cloud-based Wi-Fi security service, and On Spot Techs providing RF site surveying and other IT services.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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