I use a Google WiFi mesh network with WiFi speeds up to 500 mbps. This network has AC1200 2x2 Wave 2 capabilities and supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11a/b/g/n/ac networking. Using the Ookla speed test on an iPad Air 4th Gen I get speeds over 300 mbps. On an original iPad Air sitting next to it, the Ookla speed test doesn't exceed 26 mbps. Why is the WiFi on the original iPad Air so slow? Another poster says "A 2013, 1st gen iPad is capable of WiFi, Wireless N speeds UP to 300mbps with a 2 antenna MODEM/router. It can reach UP to 450mbps with a 3 antenna MODEM/router."
I looked up iPad Air wireless specs on the MacTracker database. Here are four:
The first thing I noticed is that "ac" capability was added to the iPad 2, plus a technology called HT80. So there are hardware differences.
Thanks for reaching out to us for support. It’s never fun when the Wi-Fi connection on your iPad is slow, and we are going to do everything we can to help you. When you have a free moment, can you please tell us when you first encountered this issue and if you have made any changes to the settings on your iPad? Also, can you tell us all the troubleshooting steps you have taken so far in an attempt to resolve your issue so that we can avoid repeating them? When possible, please be specific when describing the steps you’ve taken and the outcome after each step. Also, please tell us the version of iPadOS you are currently running on your iPad and if you notice the slow Wi-Fi speeds when Bluetooth is turned on. Lastly, check out the links below for resources that can potentially help to resolve your issue, and let us know the outcome.
Connect to Wi-Fi on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch
Recommended settings for Wi-Fi routers and access points
If your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch won’t connect to a Wi-Fi network
About iOS performance on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch
Find the software version on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod
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Replying to MoonJ:
Yes, that must be the reason the 1st Gen iPad is so much slower. The "n" standard supports up to 100, whereas the "ac" standard supports greater than gigabit speeds. Still it would be nice if I could get closer to 100.