Verdict: Smart’s newest iteration of the LTE broadband kit is a godsend for people who are in-between fixed-line connections and are in locations that don’t have reliable fiber options. Like anything based on a cellular network, overall speeds are still dictated by your physical location and how close you are to a cellular tower, but Smart is one of the better telcos in the metro when it comes to speed, coverage, and capacity.
It is a fast and affordable option for students and work-from-home employees in need of an internet upgrade without the hassle for having cables installed. The Smart LTE-Advanced Pocket Wifi is priced at Php 1,995
- Can reach speeds of up to 100 Mbps
- Wifi-device has a 15-hour battery life on a single charge
- Can connect up to 10 devices
- Utilizes multiply LTE-connections instead of one
- Speeds may vary depending on your location
The requirements of the modern plague have seen people scrambling for a fixed-line broadband subscription at home, but because of the unprecedented surge in demand and reduced manpower of most telcos, it’s almost impossible to get technicians to lay down new lines for new subscribers.
One solution that many people have turned to is buying cellular-based broadband kits, of which Smart sells plenty of. While it’s certainly not the ideal solution, it’s better than nothing, and to be fair Smart has done quite a lot of improvements to their network even before the pandemic hit that has helped immensely with speed and coverage.
Packaging, contents, and overall design
Out of the box, the Smart Bro LTE-Advanced Pocket Wifi prepaid kit comes with a manual, the router itself along with its battery, a micro USB charging cable, a 5G ready sim, and free 15 GB worth of prepaid load that is valid for 15 days.
The LCD display on the pocket Wi-Fi is basic but gives you the information you need at a glance, including overall signal strength (and the network you’re on), how many devices are connected, notifications for text messages, battery life, and the number on the SIM card for easy reloading (no need to memorize).
The body is made from plastic with a matte finish, and the display has a transparent plastic cover that protects it from wear and tear. There are two buttons on the side of the device itself, along with a microUSB port for charging.
Performance, speeds and battery life
This new, improved pocket WiFi has several new features that the old one didn’t. The old one had a connection limit of 5 devices, while the new version can connect up to 10 devices at any given time. The new version also has a bigger, 3000mAh battery (the old one only had 2000mAh). The biggest change here is that the new version makes use of Carrier Aggregation technology, which raises the theoretical speed limit to 100Mbps VS the usual 42Mbps of the old one.
This doesn’t mean you’ll be getting 100Mbps all the time, it’s just that if the heavens align, you WILL be able to get that speed, maybe. There’s a lot of factors that are at play when you use a pocket WiFi device – the cellular coverage in your area, congestion, the layout of your house (plenty of concrete walls = bad signal) etc. We recommend you going around your house to check signal strength. That being said, let’s take a look at the speeds. Take note that we used this in the Q.C. Area near Trinoma in a typical residential bungalow. The first result was without doing anything with the devices connected, while the next two were taken while I was streaming full HD content on my phone, and tablet.
Speeds are definitely usable, and personally, I’ve gone through several Zoom meetings using this pocket Wi-Fi. Battery life is around 6-7 hours, though you’d probably want to keep this thing plugged into the wall socket if you plan to use it at your place.
Wrap-up and conclusions
Using a pocket WiFi to work and study is far from the best solution out there, but if you absolutely can’t get a new broadband line put in (or your building doesn’t have the infrastructure for it) then grabbing Smart’s new LTE-Advanced Pocket Wifi is the next best thing.
If you think your place has a strong enough signal for it (you can verify by checking your speeds with an LTE-enabled phone) you can grab the kit for a one-time cash-out for Php 1,995 or as low as Php 699/month (with a 12-month lock-in period). There are monthly data allocations of 6GB, 10GB, and 15GB, and plans have a data rollover feature, where your unused data allocation is carried over to the next month. It can also be paired with GIGA Pro prepaid plans, a bigger and better data pack that offers a generous combination of 3 GB per day of any GIGA offer. You can check out these GIGA Pro plans here.
You can purchase this from Smart Stores, the Smart Online Store, accredited retailers nationwide, as well as the Smart Flagship Store on Lazada.