|Easy setup and connects up to 16 devices
|Doesn't support 5G
|Good battery life
|No wall plug included
|Compact and portable
|The charging cable is short
The Three 4G+ MiFi dongle is one of the best 4G mobile broadband devices available - it's just a shame it's not 5G.
The Three 4G+ MiFi (or the Huawei 4G+ MiFi (E5783B-230) to give it its technical name) is a 4G mobile broadband device, meaning it can be used as a battery-powered router to get any Wi-Fi supporting gadgets – such as tablets and laptop – online at 4G speeds.
But this isn’t just any mobile broadband device, as unlike some rival devices, this one supports theoretical speeds of up to 300Mbps for downloads and 100Mbps for uploads, so while it’s still 4G, it’s theoretically faster than some other products on the market.
Of course, speed is just one factor of a mobile broadband device. Other considerations include battery life, size, weight, and the number of devices you can connect to it at once – not to mention the price.
So, does the Three 4G+ MiFi excel in all those areas? And is it the right mobile broadband device for you? Read our full Three 4G+ MiFi review to find out.
|From £11 a month
|1-month, 12-month or 24-month
|Up to 6 hours usage (350 hours standby)
|Maximum connected devices
|16 devices at once
|10 to 30Mbps (300Mbps theoretical maximum)
When you buy a Three 4G+ MiFi you’re not just getting the device itself. In the box you’ll also find a short micro-USB charging cable – though note that there’s no actual plug supplied.
You also get a removable battery, which you’ll need to put in the Three 4G+ MiFi before you can use it. Finally, there’s a small manual, and a keepsake card, which has the network name and password on it. You’ll also receive a SIM card, but this may be sent separately.
At 108 x 62 x 16mm and 87g the Three 4G+ MiFi is light and portable, as you’d hope. This is the sort of thing you could easily just throw in a bag or even a pocket, as it’s smaller than a typical smartphone – though it is also thicker.
It’s sleek and curvy, but with quite a plain black finish. The main points of note at the micro-USB charging port on the bottom edge, the power button on the top edge, and the status indicators on the front, giving you an indication of the remaining battery life, the 4G connection status, and any unread text messages.
As with most mobile broadband devices, setup here is simple, but we’ll run you through the process. Or you can check out our Three 4G+ MiFi unboxing and setup video below if you’re more into visuals.
Step 1: Remove the back of the Three 4G+ MiFi. This can be a bit tricky, but there’s a small gap at one of the corners which gives you something to grip onto with your fingernails, and it’s solidly built, so you don’t need to worry about breaking it.
Step 2: You should now see the SIM card slot, but to access this you first need to push upwards on the cover and then lift it.
Step 3: Now it’s time to insert the SIM card, but Three sends a trio SIM which has all three possible sizes in one. It’s the micro size that you want here, which is the middle one. So pop that out, put it in the slot (with the cut-out corner orientated to the bottom right), and close and lock that compartment – sliding downwards on the SIM card slot cover until you hear a click.
Step 4: Next, put the battery in (lining the golden connectors up) and click the rear cover back into place, making sure you’ve pressed down on all the sides, so it’s properly secured.
Step 5: Hold the power button for a few seconds to turn the Three 4G+ MiFi on, and wait for the three lights on the front to turn green. The Three 4G+ MiFi will then start broadcasting a Wi-Fi network.
Step 6: To connect to it, just head to the Wi-Fi settings on the devices you want to get online, and use the login details provided on the keepsake card that comes with the Three 4G+ MiFi / Huawei 4G+ MiFi (E5783B-230) dongle, or simply scan the QR code on that card to instantly connect to the network. As with any router though you can later change these login details if you prefer. If you ever lose your keepsake card you can also get the WiFi network underneath the battery on the device itself. To reset the details back to the factory default you simply need to hold the reset button, which is also found on the back of the device.
The Three 4G+ MiFi / Huawei 4G+ MiFi (E5783B-230) dongle supports download speeds of up to 300Mbps over 4G. In the real world you are unlikely to get speeds that high, but it basically means you can make the most of any 4G network, and get higher real-world speeds than you would from many rival devices.
In testing for this Three 4G+ MiFi review, we found that average download speeds were in the range of 10-30Mbps, which at the top end is higher than most 4G networks average. For upload speeds, you’re looking at a maximum of 100Mbps. However, in our testing we found average upload speeds around 10Mbps.
Latency hovered around 50 milliseconds, which is slightly higher than you'd get with a fixed-line broadband connection, but is still more than good enough for gaming. However, competitive gamers looking for the lowest possible latency (or ping) might be better going with a 5G broadband device, or better still fixed-line broadband.
Note though that the Three 4G+ MiFi isn’t locked to Three, so while you will get a Three SIM card with it, you’re free to use it with other networks too, which will have an impact on speeds.
In any case, the Three 4G+ MiFi also has a Wi-Fi range of around 10 metres, which for home broadband wouldn’t be much, but given that mobile broadband is typically designed for getting things in the same room or vehicle as you online, it should be plenty.
That, coupled with the ability to get up to 16 gadgets online wirelessly at once (which should be more than enough for most users), makes this a top mobile broadband choice.
That said, 4G home broadband devices often support 32 or even 64 simultaneous connections, so you could consider something like the Three 5G Hub instead if you plan to use this somewhere with access to power, and need extra connections.
The Three 4G+ MiFi also supports both 5GHz and 2.4GHz Wi-Fi simultaneously, with the former offering higher speeds over shorter ranges and the latter designed for increased range. It should be noted that when activating 5Ghz and 2.4GHz at the same time you can connect 8 devices to each, which still gives you a total of 16 devices.
You could for example connect your laptop to do some work while friends or family members stream video on a tablet, game on a Switch, and more.
For even better performance you can use it as a USB modem by plugging it into a computer using the included micro-USB cable. This provides a wired connection from the Three 4G+ MiFi to your computer, for higher, more stable speeds. When doing this, the device is plug and play and the device software will load automatically and supports 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 (excluding Windows RT), MAC OS X 10.9, 10.10, 10.11 and 10.12. It's also useful that you can still share internet wirelessly at the same time as doing this.
The Three 4G+ MiFi has a 1,500mAh battery which is charged using the included micro-USB cable. That’s not a massive battery, but it is a match for the older Huawei E5573bs-322 or the rival Vodafone R219, and in practice allows for far longer life than the former of those, while matching the latter, with up to 6 hours of operating time and 350 hours of standby.
So if you’re not using it you will rarely have to charge it, and even when you are using it you should get enough life to see you through most lengthy journeys. It charges quite quickly too, so you won’t have to wait around ages before you can get it back into action.
Note however that the included cable doesn’t come with a plug. Manufacturers are increasingly not including plugs, to save both costs and the environment, under the assumption that you already have a suitable one to connect the cable to. The end that connects to a plug is a full-size USB, so if you have a USB plug then you’re good to go. Alternatively you can plug this into a computer to charge it.
Still, the lack of a plug is a slight disappointment, as is the short length of the charging cable.
The Three 4G+ MiFi / Huawei 4G+ MiFi (E5783B-230) dongle is available on a wide range of plans from Three, coming in 1-month, 12-month, and 24-month durations, and with a range of data allowances right up to unlimited. At the time of writing, the cheapest plan comes in at just £13 per month – that’s a 12-month plan with 10GB of data, and has a £19 upfront cost.
At the higher end, you can pay for example £22 per month with no upfront cost, for unlimited data on a 24-month plan. That second plan comes with six months half price though, so for the first six months you’d only actually be paying £11 per month. These are extremely competitive prices for the specs on offer.
You can also use the Three 4G+ MiFi abroad. However, roaming is no longer inclusive on most Three plans, so you’ll likely have to pay £2 per day to use your data in most of Europe, or £5 per day in select locations across the rest of the world. There’s also a fair usage limit of 12GB when roaming.
You can read Three’s roaming details in full in our Three roaming guide.
The Three 4G+ MiFi is a speedy 4G mobile broadband device with good battery life and a competitive price. There’s not much more to say about it than that – while a 5G device might be more desirable at this point, progress in mobile broadband can often be slow, so we might be waiting a while for many of them to launch.
In the meantime, this is one of the best and fastest options around. It’s not the smallest, lightest, or cheapest mobile broadband device, but it strikes a great balance.
Its main limitations other than the lack of 5G are small things like the lack of an included wall plug. Of course, you also need to consider whether mobile broadband is right for you at all – if you’re mostly going to be in one place or have access to a socket, then you should consider 5G or 4G home broadband instead.
Below, we’ve detailed some alternatives to the Three 4G+ MiFi, both in the mobile and home broadband space.
5G & 4G Home Broadband
If you’re shopping with Three then there aren’t any other MiFi devices to choose from at the time of writing. There is however the Three 5G Hub which offers 5G home broadband.
This uses similar technology to the Three 4G+ Plus MiFi, but it needs to be plugged in, and is designed to mostly stay in one place, such as a home or office, to provide a permanent broadband connection.
So if that’s your use case it’s worth considering – especially because it’s faster, due to supporting 5G, and has other advantages such as Ethernet ports for wired connections, and up to 64 simultaneous connections.
You need 5G to make the most of it, but there’s also the Three 4G Hub if you only have 4G coverage in the place where you plan to be using it. Again though, this is intended as home broadband.
Assuming you’re specifically for something more portable that doesn’t need plugging in, you’ll have to look to other networks (or buy something outright and put a data SIM in it) to get other options.
Those other options include the likes of the Vodafone 4G Mobile Hotspot. This has the same maximum download speeds as the Three 4G+ MiFi, and more maximum connections at 32, but its upload speeds top out at 50Mbps, which is half what Three’s device offers.
Then there’s the Alcatel Pocket Hotspot 4G (available from O2), which is also a rather similar device to the Three 4G+ MiFi, though O2 doesn’t specify its top speeds, and note that independent testing of O2’s network tends to find it slower than Three’s anyway, so you won’t necessarily be able to make the most of this hardware.
If you want a 5G MiFi device from a network then your only current option is the EE 5G WiFi, which additionally supports up to 64 simultaneous connections, has a bigger battery, and a wider 30-metre Wi-Fi range. However, it’s also a larger, heavier device, so it’s not something you’ll be putting in your pocket, and it’s a lot more expensive too.
You might also want to consider a dongle like the Alcatel Dongle 4G available from O2, or the Vodafone K5161z. These are both 4G, and they’re like USB sticks that you plug into a Mac or Windows computer to provide them with a 4G connection.
These are even smaller than the Three 4G+ MiFi and don’t need charging (as they draw power from the thing they’re plugged into), but they only get one device online at once, and only really work with computers.