When you’re looking for fast, reliable broadband speed on the go, the MiFi 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot from Sprint is the way to go. The new mobile hotspot from Sprint allows you connect up to five Wi-Fi devices at once onto the carrier’s 3G or 4G WiMax network where available. Unlike the Overdrive 3G/4G mobile hotspot before it, the MiFi is much smaller and has better battery life, so when you’re out and about and need to get work done, you won’t be worrying about running to a power source every hour or two.
The MiFi 3G/4G is a sleek device with a pretty sexy design. As you can see above, it has a brushed metal face and a polished bezel. The sides and back are soft-touch, and down below there is a small rubber nub that keeps the device from sliding around when placed on a smooth surface like a table. It’s very small and lightweight, and while I wouldn’t recommend it while in use, it fits easily into your pocket. The MiFi dimensions are 90mm x 60mm x 13.22mm, or 3.54″ x 2.36″ x 0.52″ and weighs 85 grams or 3 ounces.
At the face, there is the Sprint branding and logo, along with the MiFi logo that you see on most Novatel Wireless devices. There is a power button that turns the devices on and off, and above that is a 35mm x 10mm e-Ink display. Yes, your signal, battery status and other indicators are displayed in e-Ink, which is really cool. I suspect this might have to do a little with power savings compared to the Overdrive, which uses an LED display that is constantly on. It’s also a nice touch to the overall design, too.
Along the side, there is a slot for a microSD card – the device supports up to 32GB expansion – and a microUSB port for charging and connecting to your computer. There is also an LED indicator that flashes blue when it’s connected to 4G, green when connected to 3G, and orange when there is no service available.
The box includes a USB to microUSB cable to connect the device to your computer, a travel charger and a small pouch for carrying and protecting your MiFi mobile hotspot.
The display indicator shows your signal strength, whether you’re roaming or not, GPS and there are little dots along the bottom to show how many devices are connected to the MiFi 3G/4G mobile hotspot.
Connecting to the device is very simple. You just go into your Wi-Fi settings on your computer, smartphone, tablet or e-Reader and search for available networks, and select the Sprint MiFi device from the list. The password to connect to the device will be included with your MiFi and takes seconds to connect. Once you’re on, you’re ready to go.
The device also supports microSD cards so that you can share and access files with other devices connected to the device over the MiFi OS.
One of the nice things about using the MiFi 3G/4G hotspot is that you don’t need to install any additional software to start using it. You just connect your Wi-Fi enabled device to it and you’re set.
Speed and Battery Life
So, just how well does the Sprint MiFi 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot perform? Very well. In some cases, I was getting faster speeds on the mobile hotspot when compared to Wi-Fi offered at most local cafés. On average, I got about 6.3Mbps down, and 1.1Mbps up over Sprint’s WiMax network. I did reach peak speeds of 9.7Mbps down and 1.5Mbps up under optimal conditions and decent coverage, so your results may vary. However, overall, the MiFi 3G/4G performed admirably.
With regular web surfing, e-mail and a few YouTube videos, I was able to consistently get 3 to 3.5 hours of battery life in good coverage areas. That’s not bad considering the Overdrive 3G/4G gave me about an hour less battery life on average.
It’s tough to place a value mark on this right now since it’s not available yet and pricing hasn’t been announced, either. We have reached out to Sprint for those details and will update this section once they respond to us. We were told, however, that the announcement should be coming in just a few days, so stay tuned.