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Three MiFi HSPA+ (Huawei E586) review

Gordon Kelly




  • Recommended by TR

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Our Score:



  • HSPA+ Performance Notably Better Than HSDPA
  • Light with decent battery life
  • Affordable & flexible contracts


  • HSPA+ coverage can be patchy

Key Features

  • First HSPA+ device in the UK
  • Circa 5 hour battery life
  • 80g
  • Bundled charging dock
  • Available on pre-pay, rolling and long term contracts
  • Manufacturer: Huawei
  • Review Price: £84.99

If you believe today's tech marketers you not only need a smartphone and a laptop, but a tablet and an eBook reader as well. Keeping each online can quickly become expensive, but Three's latest MiFi package offers a far more graceful solution. Vitally, it also offers the fastest…

For those not in the know, MiFi devices are portable WiFi hotspots. They are pocket sized and battery powered, connect to a mobile network and send out a security protected WiFi signal to which you can connect all your portable devices. The downside is all your devices share a single connection. The significant upside is you pay for just one tariff leading potentially to considerable cost savings.


Now in launching the Huawei 'E586' MiFi, Three has become the first UK carrier to sell an HSPA+ compatible device. The HSPA+ or Evolved HSPA specification has an increased theoretical download speed of up to 21.6Mbps, while maintaining the 5.76Mbps theoretical upload speed of HSUPA. This compares very favourably to the 7.2Mbps theoretical maximum download speeds of rival MiFi products. Needless to say 'theoretical' has little to do with reality, but we'll come back to this in a few paragraphs.

Speed isn't the only feature on the agenda though, the beauty of the E586 is its simple design. Front and centre is the small, but wonderfully clear, OLED display which provides at-a-glance information to everything you need. From top left to bottom right (see image below) these are: signal strength, connection type, the number of connected devices (up to five), connection status, new messages, battery level, total data usage and roaming state ('R' shows if enabled). Meanwhile on the right side you have power and security buttons, the latter of which displays the SSID and password and on the left there is a 32GB compatible microSD slot which turns the E586 into an elaborate memory key if plugged into a PC. This can be done via the micro USB port on the bottom of the E586, which is also used for charging. Helpfully Three supplies not just a charging cable, but also a matching dock.


Setup is as simple or as complex as you like. Out the box the E586 only requires the sim card and battery to be inserted and you are ready to go. For more advanced users, however, they can enjoy a slew of advanced settings by connecting a device to the E586 and visiting http://3.home in a web browser (for image see page two). This includes everything from changing the SSID and password to the type of encryption (up to 'WPA2-PSK' as well as AES TKIP WPA encryption) plus the option to enable or disable the MiFi's automatic connection to a network when switched on (useful abroad). The E586 can also send and receive SMS from here, a clever trick, but one unlikely to get much use in reality.

So on paper, or should we say 'theoretically', Three's latest MiFi appears to be a real contender and the good news is in reality it is also excellent.


October 13, 2011, 12:49 pm

I have the Dongle version of this on HSPA+ and it really really works well. On a train journey from Glasgow to Manchester it only stopped working on the internet a couple of times, far far superior to my old Vodafone 3G dongle. My company has also supplied me with the Vodafone version of the MiFi and it is utter rubbish. I can rarely get a signal when I do its like running in treacle, yet at exactly the same time I can get a download speed of 8Meg on 3 dongle (www.speedtest.net)


February 12, 2012, 11:56 pm

I am very disappointed with my new E586. The thing is generally fantastic, however, it has one major fault: it's not possible to access the SD card wirelessly on this model as it was with previous models. I feel like I bought a Ferrari only to find the steering wheel missing. Surely wireless access to files on the SD card must be a major attribute for a device like this and to exclude this function from the dashboard(web based control panel) a major oversight or an incredible blunder. To rub salt into the wound, I have seen E586 Mifis being sold on the Internet with this function enabled. What were Three thinking with this new dashboard? I can only hope a new dashboard is made available and the "steering wheel" is replaced so that E586 users can make the most of their devices.


August 4, 2012, 4:37 pm

This device is no good if the n/w is not supporting HSPA+, which it is not .

Beware of e586, the device will give you good speed only if the n/w supports HSPA+. Three has not upgraded their entire network to HSPA+. Also they don't provide you any details as in which area is upgraded and which area is not. I leave in TW3 London, which is not upgraded as per 3 support i am getting only 1-2 mbps of speed. Three support is telling me that if I get > 400 kbps you are good, if that is the case why are you selling 21mbps device with Premium tag line and a message '40% faster'. On asking this questions 3 says, what we are saying is device is faster that doesn't mean you will get a 40% faster speed.

My vodafone dongle on 3G/HSPA is giving me 2-3 mbps much better than e586. Three is unwilling to help as per their standard the 1mbps speed if good. Also not taking the device back, so think twice before buying it from 3 UK

If you are planning to buy the device better confirm it from 3 Store or Customer support about HSPA+ upgrade in your area.


November 6, 2012, 4:07 pm

I've had this for a couple of weeks now on 3 UK and find it really excellent. I commute from Cambridge to London and there are only a couple of places where it drops out for a short while. That's much better than the Vodafone dongle I used to have and loads better than my Vodafone iPhone 4S which spends most of its time saying there's no service at all even for phone calls.

It's revolutionised my journey to London.


November 5, 2013, 3:28 pm

Can I use it with Vodafone sim card or any sim card with 3G

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