|Solid 4G speeds||Slower than fastest fibre broadband|
|Dual-band Wi-Fi and connect up to 64 devices||Needs to be plugged in|
|Loads of ethernet ports||No 5G|
|External antenna support|
If your priority for a 4G router is a fast, reliable connection - which it should be - then the Huawei B535 remains a very solid option.
The Huawei B535 WebBox is a 4G home broadband router that used to be sold on Three under the Three 4G Hub name, but while you can still get a device by that name on the site, it’s now a newer, better router (the ZTE MF286D).
Still, maybe you’ve already got the Huawei B535 WebBox and are wondering whether there’s any need to upgrade, or maybe you’re considering buying it from elsewhere. In either case, our review can help you decide.
So read on to see whether the Huawei B535 is worth hanging on to (or buying in the first place) or whether you’re better off with something different.
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.
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 a SIM card, plug it in, and complete a basic setup process. 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.
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 a match for the Three 4G Hub, the Three 5G Hub, and the likes of the 4GEE Home Router 2, as well as topping the Vodafone GigaCube 4G.
It’s reasonably 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, but it’s notably lower than the 600Mbps maximum speed of the new Three 4G Hub.
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 Huawei B535 supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands. This is another fairly standard thing in routers, but not always found in 4G ones, especially older models.
One feature worth noting is the four Ethernet ports on the back of the Huawei B535, which let you provide a wired connection to up to four devices. That’s a good number – the 4GEE Home Router 2 and Three 4G Hub match 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. This again is a match for most rival devices.
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.
Three 5G Hub
Three 4G Hub
|Download Speeds||Up to 300Mbps||Up to 2.33Gbps||Up to 600Mbps|
|Upload Speeds||Up to 100Mbps||Up to 1.25Gbps||Up to 150Mbps|
|Maximum Connected devices||64||64||64|
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 802.11ac
(2.4GHz and 5GHz)
|External Antenna||Yes (sold separately)||Yes (sold separately)||Yes (sold separately)|
|Power||Mains Power||Mains Power||Mains Power|
|-||Three 5G Hub review||-|
We’ve mentioned three of the main alternatives elsewhere in this review – the Three 5G Hub, the Three 4G Hub, and the 4GEE Home Router 2. The first of those is only worth considering if you can get a 5G signal, while the other two tie you to Three and EE respectively.
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. There’s also the Vodafone GigaCube 4G, which has similar download speeds, but is worse for uploads (up to 50Mbps) and simultaneous connections (up to 20).
The Three 4G Hub though is a significant upgrade in terms of both upload and download speeds – at least in terms of the maximum speed, though you may not find average speeds are vastly different.
The Three 5G Hub meanwhile has them all 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.
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.
The Huawei B535 used to be available direct from Three, but now no networks stock it, meaning you’ll have to buy it SIM-free from a store, with prices starting at around £110 at the time of writing.
That’s not bad, but you’ll still need a SIM card and allowances to go with it, meaning there will be a monthly price too.
As such, you might want to consider the new Three 4G Hub or another network option instead, as it might not cost more overall, and in the case of the Three 4G Hub you’ll get higher speeds.
The Three 5G Hub is sure to be more expensive, but there you’re getting even higher speeds if you have the coverage.
All things considered, the Huawei B535 is a very solid 4G home broadband router. If that’s all you’re after then it’s competitive with devices from EE and Vodafone, but no match for the new Three 4G Hub.
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.