Internet data market is flooded with users who buy data modems and CPEs (Customer Premise Equipment) the same way they do clothes: prioritizing looks, size, and brand over basic utility and functionality is not a big deal here. This is something Huawei has never had a problem with when it comes to this category of devices. The Chinese company’s latest CPE device is one with looks to die for. This LTE wireless router is small and actually pretty good-looking, something you will get fade up reading by the time you are done with this review. The E5180 is the top dog in portable LTE router space. Unwilling to settle for averagely awesome, however, Huawei has done what Huawei usually does and gone wild with the network compatibility specs.
The loaner review device was packed in a white cuboid box, and the first thing your eyes lay upon when you slide it open is another Turquoise colored box that holds the LTE CPE. Under the device, Huawei will surprise you with more handy and useful accessories, which include a 12 V output charger and the Ethernet Cable and thats it. And truthfully it’s all you need for a wireless router. All accessories at the bottom of the box came well packed in their own mini box.
Made in China and designed by Huawei, the White glossy, E5180 LTE router is one of the few portable routers to feature an assortment of frequency bands capable of 2G, 3G and 4G LTE wireless technologies. The compact cuboid shaped LTE CPE is a sight to behold, with rounded off edges made of shinny fingerprint magnet plastic material. Once powered on, you will be welcomed by its emotional breathing glowing blue light that forms a ring at the top, something that looks like a scene in an Avatar movie. The top part of the device also acts as a humongous power button. One of our main disappointments with the device is its lack of back up battery in case power goes off, I guess they left that feature out of portable MiFis devices only.
One side of the router has all physical connectivity options including the Ethernet cable input, 12 V power mains input and dial-up connection for those VoIP calls. The other side has LED indicators for the Wireless Network and WiFi. At the bottom of the CPE is where have the micro-LTE SIM slot, plus the default password and user credentials for initial set up of the LTE router.
Huawei is no stranger in this category of internet devices, but is now diving into a sea of well-designed and well ‘speced’ internet devices, without HTC’s smartphone style or Samsung’s swagger, will have to prove its worth the old-fashioned way: by just being better than everyone else.
PACKS TONNES OF WIRELESS TECHNOLOGIES
This device can support LTE Cat 4/HSPA+/HSPA/UMTS/EDGE/GSM, this means apart from LTE you will be able to get the 42Mbps, 21Mbps, 7.2Mbps 3G speeds plus EDGE speeds in case you are in the 2G covered zone. The unit we had could support both FDD and TDD – LTE supporting bands 1,3,7, and 20 in FDD and band 38 in TDD. It will work in here in the AMEA region in band 20 since we have live networks that support this LTE band.
Just like any CPE, the E5180 will mainly be used by SMEs and families to connect several WiFi capable devices without losing much quality in speed. And according to the manufacturer, it can connect up to 32 users. Our tests show that it works in a radius of about 200m LOS (Line Of Sight) also depending on the type of device you are using to connect to it. Laptops tend to hold onto the signal for long unlike smartphones due to the different power of the WiFi Antennas embedded in each device. The device supports WiFi 802.11 b/g/n standards, so be sure any WiFi capable device will connect.
SPEED TESTS IN THE REAL WORLD
The first thing you will need and I highly recommend is to download the Huawei Mobile WiFi APP on your Android or iOS smartphone to manage the CPE more conveniently. The App will help you manage your Mobile WiFi device anytime, anywhere. You can use it to view your data usage, battery life, and other setting from the convenience of your Android device. According to the app description on the play store you can follow the instructions below to get it up and running.
This LTE Category 4 device screams fast internet speeds, this means that the router can theoretically handle up to 150 Mbps. Theoretical speeds of this LTE CPE are divided between the two LTE technologies (FDD and TDD), with the FDD technology giving more speed 150Mbps DL and 50Mbps UL and TDD giving 112 Mbps DL and 10 Mbps UL. In case you are in an area of poor LTE coverage. The router supports external antenna connectivity. to boast the power of the LTE signal.
In our tests we were able to hit up to 37.12 Mbps DL and 16.03 Mbps UL thanks to the 2*2 MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) LTE antenna configuration which means its ready to suck down as much bandwidth the network can avail it with.
Expect to have different speeds depending on your carrier. At 37.12 Mbps DL you can connect up to 32 people on this router each enjoying at least 1Mbps speed.