In January I moved to a new place in a new suburb and because of the nature of new developments, there was no fixed internet service provider. In Fact on the day I am writting this review, 8 months later, there still is no TelOne, no Zol or any other fixed internet service provider.
And so all this time, I have been using my LG G6 as a wifi hotspot for my internet, which went well until I hit the maximum device limit when tethering, which is 10.
So I thought enough was enough and went all out on this 4G router. The Huawei 4G router 3 Pro. The big daddy of Huawei’s 4G router lineup right now. You can watch beautiful visuals of the video in the link below.
Unboxing and Exterior
In the box you have some standard kit. An ethernet cable, a 12V power supply, a quick start guide, the stand for the router and the router itself.
The face of it is super minimal with a black strip slightly towards the top that houses the different led indicators for your power, available network that is 3G, 4G or no network, wifi broadcast, LAN and the signal strength.
The top of the router has 2 buttons. A power button as well as a HiLink button or WPS button. You can press that and it will allow someone to log into the wifi without entering the password.
On the back you have the reset button for the router’s configurations. It basically resets the router to factory spec. You also have the power port, the 4 LAN ports and finally the telephone port.
Yes you can actually connect a regular telephone to this router and have yourself a wireless landline of sorts. But this landline can also receive SMSs through the AI life app.
There is also a cover on the back that hides the ports for some antennas. Now the router comes with built in antennas and works perfectly fine without the extra ones but in areas where network coverage is on the weak side, these ports will try and boost whatever network signal is available for better performance of your internet. Unfortunately those are sold separately.
And the bottom bit is where you install the legs of this router so it can stand tall and proud.
Right at the bottom here is where you’ll find the all important sim slot for whatever Sim card you’ll be using for your internet. The router uses Micro sim which is smaller than a full size sim but bigger than a nano sim used in most smartphones these days.
Oh and if you are wondering, this router supports all sim cards including ZOL and TelOne. The only sim cards not supported are ones that use the CDMA network like Powertel and Africom.
There are 2 ways of setting it up. You can either do it using the AI life app or the old school way of using a computer.
Before you do anything make sure the sim card does not have a pin before you chuck it into the router. Then you turn the router on and take a pic of the sticker on the back because we are going to need that information to set it up.
So setting it up with a computer is super simple. You can plug in the ethernet cable or just connect via wifi. If you decide on using wifi though you’ll need the wifi name and the wifi password that’s on the sticker behind the router.
Once you are connected, you open your internet browser and again referring to the sticker behind the router you type in the IP address which in my case is 192.168.8.1 and click enter.
You’ll be taken to a window which will show the Huawei logo and you’ll be asked for a login password which you’ll get on the same sticker behind the router. Login and you’ll see a summary of your internet connection and the status of your router.
To set it up you want the SIM side of things and the WIFI side of things. So for the SIM side of things you click on Network connections then select internet connection. All we are doing here is adding the APN for whatever Sim you’ll be putting inside it. I’ll list all the APNs for Zimbabwean mobile service providers in the table below.
|Econet Wireless Zimbabwe or EWZ||econet.net|
Once you have added the profile name and the APN you click save and that new APN will become the default.
Next you go to mobile network searching and here you can leave it at auto if you will be using an Econet, Telecel or NetOne sim in it. But if you are going to be using a TelOne or Zol Sim in it I personally recommend you select 4G only for the best performance. Don’t forget to click save.
And that’s it for the sim side of things. Let’s go to Wifi settings and here you select basic wifi settings. You then go to Wifi Name, choose a wifi name you prefer and also set a wifi password of your preference then press save.
Now if you were connected via wifi when you did all this you will be booted out of the connection. You can just log into the wifi and enter the new password and you are good to go.
And you can also do this whole setup process on your phone using the internet browser in your phone. It’s just a bit finicky because the phone’s screen is small but if you have no computer nearby you can still pull it off with your mobile.
If you have a Huawei smartphone or tablet and the AI life app then the process is even simpler. With the sim inserted and the router turned on, you open the Huawei AI Life app and it will immediately detect the router.
When you click configure it will take you through all the configurations step by step via an installation wizard which is a much less tasking process. But it’s only for the Wifi side of the settings. The sim side of settings is not part of the wizard but you can access it in the device settings within the AI life app.
Just like on the web, you need a password to log into the router so that you can configure settings and monitor everything going on with the router and something to note is you cannot remotely log into the router if you are not connected to it.
I bought this particular router from Terramak electronics in Harare and it set me back US$150 which is on the expensive side of things. So it better be good. It has to have some quality features that soothe my sore pocket.
It has a couple actually. The first is you can receive or send SMS messages using the AI life app. It even sends you a notification from the router if there is an SMS that’s come through. You’ll only be able to see it when your phone is connected to the router or when you log into the router on the web.
There is a USSD option as well that lets you run USSD commands for checking your balance or more importantly, converting your airtime to data bundles without the painful process of removing the sim from the router and chucking it in another phone just to convert airtime to a bundle.
Which counts for nothing if you use an Econet, NetOne or TelOne sim in the thing because you can dial *405# and buy bundles for your router directly from your phone. And you can choose to pay with EcoCash or OneMoney as well making the job of recharging mifi and 4G routers like mine a whole lot easier. Just dial *405# now and try it out.
The other cool feature, also cool when using the app, is monitoring. You can see who is connected to your router and with the click of a button you can disconnect them from the wifi. You can also choose which devices get the faster 5GHz connection and which ones get the slower but more stable 2.4GHz connection.
So for example, I have a media server for all my Techzim videos linked to my home network allowing me to stream my videos wirelessly to the TV in the living room. So both my laptop and my Mi Box S are connected using 5GHz connections so that my videos do not buffer when I am playing them on the big screen.
You can use the AI Life app to find the best place to put the router where it gets the very best network signal for a better internet experience.
The dashboard also shows you stuff like your data traffic and the amount of data you have consumed so far. If you set up the data settings with your recharge cycle you can get an estimate of how much data you have left which makes tracking your internet usage a lot simpler.
And finally there is also a Guest Wifi mode in the router that separates your home traffic from guest traffic. This is most useful in businesses where for security reasons you want guests to connect to a network that is separate from the company network where business servers and systems run on. That way you make it a lot harder for hackers to access critical systems of the business. Same cannot be said for other guests on the guest network though.
Anyway this is the Huawei 4G router 3 Pro. The best 4G router Huawei makes right now and it has been pretty awesome in the week I have had it.
It’s easy and friendly to set up. It works like a treat with good signal coverage and has never dropped a network connection.
It’s got heaps of features and allows plenty of customization for whatever use case you have for it and I think it genuinely looks good. Nothing is shouty about the design. It is nice and elegant and just blends in with the furniture.
But 150 bucks is a lot of money for most domestic consumers and if all you want is a router for the internet then you can literally get any other 4G router. Even the older 4G Router 2 Pro or a MiFi.
However, if you are a small to medium business, a home office or just a tech enthusiast like me who has smart home gadgets and does content streaming on the home network then this might be one of the very few routers that has the performance for those enthusiast features. For a guy like me, it is definitely soothing my sore pockets.