Huawei E5 “Pocket Mifi” Review

There was a time when mobile Internet was considered a luxury service. It was only limited to corporate executives who needs mobile Internet to access Outlook emails and SharePoint files. Globe’s Visibility and Smart WeRoam were still uber expensive and you’re locked with a contract. Prepaid 3G or even EDGE connection is non-existent.

Then 3G USB dongles came and swept the world by storm. 3G services are now more accessible to everyone. Students can now have mobile Internet on their laptops to do their research, thesis and homework almost anytime and everywhere as long as you have a 3G connection. Prepaid data is cheaper and unlimited postpaid data plans are now starting to catch up.

The only caveat with 3G USB dongles is that you’re only limited to one computer at a time and that’s assuming you have an extra USB port to use. “Pocket Mifis” or mobile wireless modems solves that single problem and offers additional features no one ever thought they needed one(maybe it’s just me). Huawei E5 is an upgraded version of the MiFy offered for a limited quantity by Globe.

Huawei E5 “Pocket Mifi” is a mobile wireless modem. You put a 3G-enabled sim card on it and it becomes a mobile Wifi router. You can connect up to 5 different wifi devices that can input a password. It’s a 802.11b/g router. You can also send text messages. It also act as a normal 3G USB dongle when connected to a computer via the included mini USB connector. So technically, you can connect 6 devices in total, the computer its connected to and 5 more WiFi devices.

The main difference of the E5 to the one sold by Globe is that the E5 now has a LED screen to see the signal, if you’re connected, the remaining battery life and how many devices are connected. I find this feature worth the upgrade.

I used my postpaid Globe Tattoo SIM on the E5. I was getting a good 1MBPS down speed here in Manila. I never had an issue connecting 5 devices at the same time. Just keep in mind that the speed you will get is dependent to your 3G speed connection. I tried using the unit while inside a moving car along EDSA. My iPad and iPhone 4 are connected to the E5. I never lost the connection while moving. I was able to browse the web and download apps at the same time.

What I like about the E5 is its size. It’s so pocketable — it can easily fit in your jeans’ pocket. It is half the size of a regular phone. The unit is also unlocked so you can use it with any network. Since it’s unlocked, I was able to use it on my trip to Hong Kong. I used a One2Free SIM and I was getting a download speed from 2MBPS to 3MBPS down. While riding the MTR (HK’s version of our MRT), moving and underground, I was getting 2MBPS speed! The unit can get speed up to 7.2MBPS.

If you have an iPhone 4 or iPod Touch 4G, you’ll know that FaceTime is only possible over a WiFi. And because I was using the WiFi router, I was FaceTime-ing while walking the street of Mongkok. How awesome is that? During my stay there, I was confronted to download a 650MB Snow Leopard OS update. I was able to download it using the E5 in a coffee shop in just under 30 mins. This is important note because E5 has its own battery that can last 5-10 hours of use. If you use it continuously with a 3G connection, it can last up to 5 hours. But if you walk around and use it occasionally, let say with an iPod Touch, it can last for half a day. To maximize the battery, you need to power it off when not in use.

If you use the E5 as a normal 3G USB dongle and connect to a laptop, it will charge the unit and can still be used as a wifi router at the same time. It’s very convenient if you’re in a coffee shop with your classmates or officemates doing some research or reports. You wont be needing 5 different 3G USB dongles.

Setting up the unit is pretty straightforward. You just need the APN setting from your internet provider. The unit, when connected to a computer for the first time, will install a management software. You can send and receive text messages using the software. You will need this if you want to get load updates from your network. Another feature of the device is the “connect” button. This is ideal if you’re using a prepaid SIM. You can connect or disconnect whenever you want.

If you love your Globe Tattoo or SmartBro dongle, you’ll love the Huawei E5 even more. I seriously don’t know how to live without it anymore. The Php5,995 price tag is worth every peso. If you own more than 1 WiFi-capable devices, Huawei E5 is a must-have gadget.

The unit is now available in the Philippines. You can contact your favorite gadget stores.