• Full Review
  • Specifications

Full Review

Three has upgraded its 4G home broadband offerings with a new Three 4G Hub, taking the place of the old Three 4G Hub. While both devices had the same name during their time at Three, the new one (a rebranded ZTE MF286D), is the only one Three sells at the time of writing, with the old one (a rebranded Huawei B535 WebBox) having been discontinued.

These are both white boxes but there are quite a lot of differences, including a much higher top speed on the new Three 4G Hub. But a lot of other things have stayed the same.

So is this a worthwhile upgrade? And more importantly is it a good 4G home broadband option? Read on to find out.

Design

Three 4G Hub Side Angle

Like most 4G home broadband routers, the Three 4G Hub is basically a white box, with a signal indicator and other status lights on the front, and all of the ports on the back.

It’s more of a square shape than some routers, such as the old Three 4G Hub (the Huawei B535 WebBox) and the Huawei 4G Plus MiFi (a battery-powered mobile broadband router). Those two are more rectangular. But otherwise the design is very similar, though the blue central section here gives it a bit of a visual edge.

The Three 4G Hub comes in at 180 x 170 x 30mm, which means it’s reasonably compact overall, with a narrow depth, though it stands taller than some. Still, stick it on a table or a shelf and it will quickly fade into the background, as any good router should.

Setup

If you’ve set up a 4G router before then you’ll be in familiar territory here, and if not, you should still have no issues, as the ease of setup is one of the selling points of 4G routers, as you don’t need a landline (meaning you can also save money) and you don’t need an engineer to come out and hook your property up to the internet.

Instead, it’s designed to be plug and play. Just put the SIM card in (if it doesn’t arrive already inserted) then plug the Three 4G Hub in, switch it on, and follow the simple provided instructions to get up and running in minutes.

Of course, there’s also an admin panel where you can go deeper into configuring your Wi-Fi network, including changing the password and security mode, but the basics are incredibly simple.

Performance and speeds

The Three 4G Hub is extremely fast for a 4G device, supporting download speeds of up to 600Mbps – though Three acknowledges that typical speeds range between 50Mbps and 100Mbps. That’s still very fast though, rivalling and even beating many fibre broadband services. It’s also faster than most other 4G home broadband routers, which tend to top out at 300Mbps.

Upload speeds are very solid too, topping out at 150Mbps – though as with downloads you’ll typically get far lower than that, and actual speeds will depend on a number of factors, most importantly being your Three 4G coverage.

Other decent specs of the Three 4G Hub include the ability to get up to 64 devices online at once (which is a common spec, but should be plenty), and support for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands, which again is fairly standard, but some older 4G routers only support 2.4GHz, so it’s nice to see.

Features and software

Three 4G Hub Back Panel

One feature of note here is the four Ethernet ports on the back of the Three 4G Hub. We’re fans of having lots of these, so you can plug devices into it for a potentially even faster and more stable connection.

Speaking of the connection, there are also two external antenna ports, which can be leveraged to boost your signal if you’re struggling to get a decent one from the Three 4G Hub on its own. These specs are in line with the previous Three 4G Hub, so not really an upgrade, but we praised that device for them and we’ll praise this one for them too.

In terms of software, you’ll be able to access a web interface for configuring the various router settings. You can’t access this from the router itself as there’s no display, but that’s pretty standard.

Alternatives

 

ZTE MF286D (Three 4G Hub)

Three 4G Hub

Three 5G Hub

Three 5G Hub

4GEE Home Router 2

4GEE Home Router 2

Download Speeds Up to 600Mbps Up to 2.33Gbps Up to 300Mbps
Upload Speeds Up to 150Mbps 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 -

If you’re looking for a home broadband router on Three then there’s only one real alternative at the time of writing – the Three 5G Hub. That of course is far faster (if you have 5G coverage), with theoretical download speeds of up to 2.33Gbps (though real world speeds will be much lower than).

Like the Three 4G Hub, it also supports up to 64 simultaneous connections, but it actually only has two Ethernet ports, rather than the four of the 4G Hub, so it’s worse off there. Still, if you have a 5G signal in your home then it’s definitely going to be the better option.

The Three 4G Hub though is a huge upgrade on the device it’s replacing (also called the Three 4G Hub, but actually a Huawei B535). That only has half the maximum download speed, at 300Mbps, and its maximum upload speeds are lower too at 100Mbps, but most of the other specs are similar.

If you’re not set on Three then there are other alternatives too, notably the 4GEE Home Router 2. This EE device is much like the old 4G Hub, with maximum download/upload speeds of 300Mbps and 100Mbps respectively, plus support for 64 simultaneous connection, and four Ethernet ports. It’s an inferior device then, but still worth considering if you have better coverage with EE than Three.

Plans

At the time of writing, the Three 4G Hub is available on a 1-month plan for £30 per month plus £29 upfront, a 12-month plan for £25 per month and no upfront cost, or a 24-month plan for £22 per month with no upfront cost, and in all cases you get unlimited data.

That pricing is competitive, matching or beating most rival options, as well as being cheaper than the Three 5G Hub – so if you only have 4G coverage, or for some reason only want 4G, get this rather than its speedier sibling.

It also comes with a 14-day money-back guarantee, so taking a chance on it is risk-free.

Conclusion

The new Three 4G Hub is an excellent 4G home broadband router, beating most 4G rivals for speed, with reasonable prices and a decent selection of ports.

The only real mark against it is that unless you’re in a rural location that’s unlikely to get 5G for a long time, then the days of 4G broadband being the best wireless option will be numbered for most people. But then not everyone needs the speed or expense of 5G broadband, as this is still quite fast.

So if you’re happy with 4G then the Three 4G Hub comes highly recommended.

Best Three 4G Hub deals

phone
Three 4G Hub
Unlimited data Mobile Broadband Plan. 12 month contract.
£14.00 a month
View Deal
Mobile Broadband Plan. 12 month contract. Worldwide Roaming Personal Hotspot
phone
Three 4G Hub
Unlimited data Mobile Broadband Plan. 24 month contract.
£17.00 a month
View Deal
Mobile Broadband Plan. 24 month contract. Worldwide Roaming Personal Hotspot
phone
Three 4G Hub
Unlimited data Mobile Broadband Plan. 1 month contract.
£30.00 a month
View Deal
Mobile Broadband Plan. 1 month contract. Worldwide Roaming Personal Hotspot

Specifications

Specifications

  • Dimensions (mm): 180 x 170 x 30
  • Modem: 4G
  • Colours: White
  • Ethernet ports: 4
  • Maximum supported download speeds: Cat 12/13, up to 600Mbps
  • Maximum supported upload speeds: up to 150Mbps
  • Wi-Fi specs: Dual Band 802.11ac (2.4GHz and 5GHz)
  • External antenna: 2x antenna ports
  • Power: Mains powered
  • Launch date: Out now

Featured Mobile Deal

phone deal
SIM Only
30GB Data Unlimited Minutes Unlimited Texts
£10.00 a month
See Deal
Advanced SIM Only Plan. 12 month contract

Latest Phones

x

EPIC SIM DEAL 30GB data £10 a month See Deal