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3 Value MiFi - Performance, Value & Verdict

Gordon Kelly

By Gordon Kelly


Our Score


Review Price £50.00


As for performance the 3 Value MiFi is no slouch either. As always when testing mobile Wi-Fis it is worth remembering doing so in real life is no firm science. Network congestion will vary from area to area, day to day and even minute to minute while every network has different coverage blackspots. Needless to say always use a carrier's coverage checker to see the strength in your home and/or office before making any purchase.

Caveats aside we had previously found 3's Premium MiFi to be consistently the fastest mobile Wi-Fi device we had tested and the Value MiFi was equally good. In areas of strong signal we recorded a maximum speed of 7.9Mbit and averaged 4-5Mbit. This is a hefty increase over what can realistically be achieved by older HSPA 7.2Mbit mobile Wi-Fi units and given these devices are effectively large antennas they will typically outperform phones, tablets and laptops with integrated 3G dongles too.

Three Value MiFi (Huawei E5331) 2

Equally important with any mobile Wi-Fi is battery life and again the Value MiFi matches up to the competition well. With moderate usage we found it achieved Three's quoted 4.5 hours of usage dropping to roughly four hours when used intensively. This is better than what we achieved from Vodafone's new HSPA R205 and within touching distance of 3's Premium MiFi. Unlike the latter though it doesn't come with a convenient charge dock.


So what about value for money? The Value MiFi uses the same tariffs as its Premium stable mate meaning 5GB of data per month for £18.99 over 18 months or 5GB of data per month for £15.99pm. As for heavy users £18.99 per month for 24 months gets you a healthy 15GB monthly data allowance. This is far stronger than Vodafone's 2GB of data for £15pm on an 18 month contract or 2GB on a thirty data rolling contract for £20pm.

Three Value MiFi (Huawei E5331) 3

Subsequently the big difference comes on the aforementioned pre-pay price tag: £50 for the Value MiFi compared to £85 for the Premium version. Given the long term costs of a MiFi this is a relatively trivial amount in our opinion and the absence of roaming and data use indicators on the Value MiFi could ultimately mean it costs you far more long term.


With a price tag 40 per cent cheaper than its premium alternative the 3 Value MiFi seems tempting on paper. The problem is the loss of a detailed screen for data, signal and roaming information means it could accidentally cost you far more than the £35 saving you put in your pocket. Performance is every bit as good as any MiFi we have tested though and battery life is strong. Still we can't help but think penny pinchers will regret scrimping long term.

Scores In Detail

Build Quality

Our Score

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June 18, 2012, 3:39 pm

'(95.5 x 49mm verses 92.8 x 60mm)'

I think 'versus' rather than 'verses'.


June 18, 2012, 5:11 pm

Thanks Allan, you have an eagle eye for spotting linguistic slip-ups ;) Changed. (may take time for the site to update)


June 22, 2012, 5:03 pm

"With a price tag 40 per cent cheaper than its premium alternative". Grrr! The price tag isn't 40% cheaper. Even the PRICE isn't 40% cheaper. It's the PRODUCT that's 40% cheaper. The price tag is 40% LOWER! (in just the same way as speeds can't be fast or slow, temperatures can't be hot or cold, etc.).

The sentence should read "With a price tag 40 per cent lower than that of its premium alternative" (or just "price" instead of "price tag").


June 22, 2012, 5:05 pm

And "Still we can't help but think penny pinchers will regret scrimping long term" has to have a comma or the words "in the" after "scrimping".

Poor English in reviews significantly reduces their credibility.

sean coleman

August 17, 2012, 9:39 pm

The broadband service from 3 is fine and reliable but my goodness the battery on my Mobile HUAwei unit would not charge and 5 days later it has not even reached the repair station even though I personally left it into a 3 shop last monday it is now friday. In other words after sales diabolical. I have taken up with regulator as I am new start up business.


December 15, 2012, 9:00 pm

how can i get the mobile wifi software for mac?

Johnny Law

December 19, 2012, 5:27 am

You don't really require any software. Simply enter in your browser and that will take you the the Huawei admin screen.


February 13, 2013, 2:23 pm

WARNING !Rubbish don't waste your money on this device dropped it on the floor and it wont work 3three refuse to replace or fix the item don't waste your money WARNING !

Golden Block

February 15, 2013, 8:02 pm

I went from using a mobile phone tethered back in 2007 through the 3 USB Dongle and now on this device.... Never had a problem with them. The dongle could do with a longer battery life, but 4 hours on the dongle matches the 4 hours on my (circa 2008) laptop.

anil Reddy

February 27, 2013, 11:15 pm



March 6, 2013, 12:59 pm

So you broke it, therefore it's rubbish? Drop your laptop on the floor and see if anyone replaces that for free.

Miro Santos

May 8, 2013, 6:06 pm

had this unlocked piece from amazon.. and bought a three from ireland... the problem is, it doesnt work when im in UK.. meaning the roaming status is always disconnected.. although its open line or unlock ( u can use any sim) when it comes to roaming, it disconnect itself.. anyone can help me with this problem?
tried to reset it and still no use... pls help


May 14, 2013, 12:11 pm

Never managed to get HSPA on this device. Yet in the exact same spot in the E586 it picks ups H with no problems at all. Been back to three and got a replacement but had the same problem. It isnt the sim card as this has been checked in the E586.
Try speaking to customer serices and all I get is the same old scripted answers. "your area may not be able to provide H or "your neighbour may place his in a better location"
and each time I say they are placed in the exact same location.

Sharon Ding

November 2, 2013, 11:01 am

How do I know whether the battery is dying or it is fully charged?


February 7, 2014, 7:59 am

having a problem deciding on the mifi with 5gb or a sim card one plan that tethers, with unlimited data ........mifi is £10,05 a month the sim is £23 a month . cost not a problem just want the best option

Robertas Vaitiekunas

April 19, 2014, 12:02 am

Please explain: "
Questionable build quality'


May 23, 2014, 9:27 am

If you have an iPhone, look up on the Apple Store for
HUAWEI Mobile WiFi
The app gives that monitoring functions which lack on the Huawei itself.


May 23, 2014, 9:27 am

If you have an iPhone, look up on the Apple Store for
HUAWEI Mobile WiFi

The app gives the monitoring functions which lack on the Huawei itself.


August 14, 2014, 3:44 pm

it is exactly as stated - the plastic casing is cheap and nasty - the lugs on the battery cover break off easily when changing SIMS : and the build quality is not as good as the previous version , and as others have said it does not connect to the network as well as the previous version


August 14, 2014, 3:48 pm

exactly the same here - (same trip in for replacements) : from what I can see the output signal is weaker as well, leading to bad mast handshakes when you do get HSPA

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