• Full Review
  • Specifications

Full Review

At the time writing Three only offers 5G home broadband in a limited number of locations, but its 4G home broadband service is widely available and seemingly not being neglected, as the brand offers a capable 4G router, dubbed the Three 4G Hub (also known as the Huawei B535 WebBox).

It launched as a rival device to the original Huawei HomeFi and the Huawei AI Cube, but the landscape has changed since then, with the only home broadband alternative now offered by Three being the Three 5G Hub.

So if you want 4G broadband on Three you don’t have any choice of router. Of course, there are still alternative options on other networks, so should you be considering them or sticking with the Three 4G Hub?

Design

Huawei B535 Webbox Design

The design of the Huawei B535 WebBox is nothing to get excited about, but that’s ok. Its plain white build will disappear neatly into almost any home. Most people don’t want their routers to stand out, and this one certainly doesn’t, even compared to the newer Three 5G Hub.

This slim white rectangle comes in at 219 x 138mm and has a grey stand, slightly contrasting the colour of the box itself. There are a number of small lights along the front, showing you at a glance the router’s status, but that’s about as close as it gets to any kind of design flair.

Setup

Like most 4G routers, the Huawei B535 WebBox is easy to get up and running. There’s no landline required and no engineer visits, you just insert the supplied SIM card, plug it in, and complete a basic setup. All the details you need to log-in to the Wi-Fi network the router creates and the admin management panel are printed on a sticker on the device.

That makes it a lot more convenient than fibre broadband. There’s very little waiting and if you move house you can easily take your Huawei B535 with you.

Performance & Speeds

Once set up, there’s a lot to like here. The B535 WebBox can get up to 64 devices online at once, which is more than most people should need. It’s also notably double what the Huawei HomeFi can manage, though it only matches the Huawei AI Cube and the Three 5G Hub.

Still, it rivals or beats most other devices here, even those that aren’t sold on Three, with the 4GEE Home Router 2 for example also topping out at 64 devices.

It’s fast too, supporting download speeds of up to 300Mbps (37.5MB/sec) and upload speeds of up to 100Mbps (12.5MB/sec). That again is a match for the 4GEE Home Router 2, and double what the discontinued Huawei AI Cube is capable of.

Real world download speeds are more likely to top out at around 100Mbps (12.5MB/sec). That's significantly below the B535's theoretical maximum speeds, but it's still very fast. Of course, it’s no match for a 5G router like the Three 5G Hub, which averages 100Mbps and tops out at much, much higher.

But there’s more than just speed here, as the Three 4G Hub supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands. This is another fairly standard thing in routers, but not always found in 4G ones, with the original HomeFi for example only supporting single band 2.4GHz Wi-Fi.

Features and software

Huawei B535 Ethernet Ports

One feature worth noting is the four ethernet ports on the back of the Three 4G Hub, which let you provide a wired connection to up to four devices. That’s a good number – the 4GEE Home Router 2 matches it, but the Three 5G Hub only has two ethernet ports, and some older routers only have one.

There’s also the option to connect an external antenna as it has support for two SMA antennas, to potentially improve the range and performance of the device – you can’t do that with the AI Cube, and there’s only one socket for one on the original HomeFi, though newer rival devices like the aforementioned 4GEE Home Router 2 and Three 5G Hub do match it here.

As for software, this isn’t something you’ll likely be interacting with much, but the Huawei B535 WebBox does have a simple web interface, allowing you to configure settings and read messages – as there’s no display, you have to access this from an external device.

You also get parental controls built in, allowing you to control website access and set time limits, which is handy if you have young children.

Alternatives

 

Huawei B535 (Three 4G Hub)

Huawei B535

Three 5G Hub

Three 5G Hub

4GEE Home Router 2

4GEE Home Router 2

Download Speeds Up to 300Mbps Up to 2.33Gbps Up to 300Mbps
Upload Speeds Up to 100Mbps Up to 1.25Gbps Up to 100Mbps
Maximum Connected devices 64 64 64
Wi-Fi 

Dual Band 802.11ac

(2.4GHz and 5GHz)

Dual-band 802.11ax/ac/a/n 4 x 4 MIMO

and 802.11b/g/n 2 x 2 MIMO (2.4GHz and 5GHz)

Dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac

(2.4GHz and 5GHz)

Ethernet Ports 4 2 4
External Antenna  Yes (sold separately) Yes (sold separately) Yes (sold separately)
Power Mains Power Mains Power Mains Power
Other Features      
  - Three 5G Hub review -

We’ve mentioned two of the main alternatives elsewhere in this review – the Three 5G Hub and the 4GEE Home Router 2. The former is only worth considering if you can get a 5G signal, while the latter only if you’re happy to not be on Three, but at the time of writing Three doesn’t offer any other 4G home broadband routers.

In terms of how they compare, the 4GEE Home Router 2 is a very similar device, sporting all the same key specs, as the chart above shows. So you’re really just choosing which network you’d rather be on.

The Three 5G Hub meanwhile has them both massively beat for speed – but again, you need 5G coverage to take advantage of that. It also curiously has fewer ethernet ports (just two), which might be an issue for some.

The devices that the Three 4G Hub is replacing though – namely the Huawei AI Cube and Huawei HomeFi – are both worse.

The former can reach the same download speeds as the Huawei B535 and supports as many users, as well as both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi, but its maximum upload speeds are lower, and it doesn’t support the attaching of an antenna.

It also has just one ethernet port, rather than four. On the other hand, it does have Amazon Alexa and a speaker built in, if that appeals, as well as an arguably nicer design.

The Huawei HomeFi on the other hand doesn’t come close in really any sense. Its speeds are slower, it only supports 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, only has one ethernet port, and can only get half as many devices connected – though it does have an antenna socket.

These devices aren’t available direct from Three anymore, but we mention them because if you already have one of these, it could be worth upgrading to the Three 4G Hub.

Beyond these, the most obvious alternative is fibre broadband. This is potentially faster (depending on what’s available where you are), but setup is more time consuming and typically requires an engineer visit. You also typically need a landline, which can add to the cost.

Plans

The Huawei B535 is available on Three with unlimited data on 24-month, 12-month and 1-month rolling plans. 

It’s substantially more affordable than the similar 4GEE Home Router 2, so unless you really want to be on EE’s network it’s the better option. Its pricing also compares well to most other 4G routers sold elsewhere.

The Three 5G Hub is also more expensive, but at least there you’re getting higher speeds if you have the coverage.

Conclusion

All things considered, the Huawei B535 is a superb 4G home broadband router. If that’s all you’re after and you’re specifically looking at Three Home Broadband then it’s the best router available.

Even if you haven’t limited yourself to Three’s network, the Three 4G Hub remains a top 4G option, but if you have 5G coverage at home then we’d advise you to spend a little more on the Three 5G Hub, as you’ll get much higher speeds from it.

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Specifications

Specifications

  • Dimensions (mm): 219 x 138
  • Modem: 4G
  • Colours: White
  • Ethernet ports: 4 ethernet ports
  • Download speeds: Cat 7, up to 300Mbps
  • Upload speeds: Cat 7, up to 100Mbps
  • Wi-Fi specs: Dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz and 5GHz)
  • External Antenna: 2 x SMA Antennas
  • Power: Mains powered
  • Launch date: Out now

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