Huawei really isn’t a known brand here in the Philippines but if you do any kind of mobile computing, then you’ve certainly used some of their products. Huawei has been making telecom products for other brands for a while. If you’ve used a 3G USB adaptor from any of the local telecoms, then there is a strong possibility that it is made by Huawei. Now, they are selling their devices such as mobile phones, tablets, and mobile hotspots such as the E5 we are reviewing.
The Huawei E5 acts just like any router in that any devices that are connected to it will be able to see each other since they are essentially in a wireless local network. However, because the E5 is only an 802.11g device, the network transfer has a theoretical limit of 54Mbps. With that said, as the primary purpose of the E5 is internet access, 54Mbps is more than enough as our local internet speeds haven’t reached that limit.
According to the documentation that came with the device, the Huawei E5 is rated for 4 hours of continuous use. So, obviously, being the foolhardy person that I am, I decided to use for a whole day connected to my mobile phone and laptop. For this test, I also used my SmartBro prepaid SIM with the 1-day unlimited connection.
I unplugged the E5 at 1pm right before I left the house. On the way to Eastwood, I would check twitter during stops. When I finally got to the Eastwood Mall, I had connected my mobile phone and laptop to the E5 via WiFi. Working with the E5 to connect to the internet for research while using my phone to check Twitter I was surprised that it still had power after four and a half hours of usage. It was already half an hour past the advertised battery-life — then again, battery life does vary depending on its usage. By that time, the battery indicator was already showing ¼ battery life left. I was able to plug the E5 to my laptop via USB to charge it a bit as I still had a press briefing to attend later that evening.
As the sun set, I was able to plug the E5 a couple of time to prolong the device’s life for a few more hours and by around 8pm, the E5 had finally given up and shut down. For something that is advertised to last up to 4 hours, I was particularly surprised that it had lasted half an hour longer than it should before being given a small charge. If I had let it alone until it depleted its charge, I’m confident that it would have lasted a half hour more. But for it to last 8 hours with short spurts of charging, I am impressed.
With the all-day test, I was using Smart’s SmartBro prepaid 3G connection but at other times, I used my Sun 3G prepaid to mobile surf. Why tell you this? Well, when I first got my hands on the E5, I was concerned about having to manually configure each telecom’s settings for them to work. Fortunately, the Huawei is pre-programmed with the APN setting for all major telecoms in the Philippines. All you need to do is insert your preferred SIM card and the E5 will automatically configure itself and just work.
It’s really hard to review devices like the Huawei E5 as its performance really depends on the connection service of your particular cellular network provider. However, after using the E5 with both Smart and Sun, I can confidently say that the Huawei E5 Mobile Hotspot is an excellent device that works as advertised. There is the matter of the 4-5 hour battery life which hampers the device being used all day. On the other hand, my real problem with the E5 is not specific to it but with mobile hotspot devices in general. Today’s smartphones allow the ability to tether their data connection to multiple devices such as laptops and tablets thus making mobile hotspot devices redundant. The only reasons I can see that someone would get the Huawei or a similar device is if you own a mobile phone that does not feature data tethering or if are a heavy mobile phone user that needs a separate device for internet connection. So if you find yourself in need of a mobile hotspot, then I will not hesitate to recommend the Huawei E5 mobile hotspot.
- Supports 5.76Mbps HSPA/7.2Mbps HSDPA
- Supports WiFi 802.11b/g
- Receive diversity (2100MHz)
- 20m standalone range/100m range maximum
- Up to 5 WiFi users
- Interface: Standard MiniUSB, Micro SD card slot up to 8GB
- 1500mAh; up to 4 hours working time
- 100 hours standby time
- LED indicator display
- SIM-based operation
- Supports all network
- Plug and Play
- Manage via webpage
Plus: Will provide WiFi access for up to 5 devices; Automatic network detection and configuration
Minus: Noticeably warm after constant use; battery life is rated for only 4 hours
Bottomline: An excellent device for what it does but seems redundant as most smartphones offer data tethering.