The latest LTE Pocket WIFi from Smart is the FX PR3L and it’s selling for the amazingly low price of P1295 and also includes a free P250 SurfMax load card.
Pocket WIFI VS. Phone HotSpot
Why not use the hotspot feature on your phone? Aside from the fact that it drains your battery and causes most phones to get dangerously hot, not everyone has an LTE capable phone, especially not with support for the 700MHz frequency.
LTE 700 MHz
Lower frequencies like 700MHz can travel further and penetrate buildings better than higher frequencies. But they cannot carry as much data, so they generally provide a slower connection.
If you’re near a cell tower, the pocket wifi will use higher, faster frequencies. If you’re further away or blocked by many obstructions, the lower frequency will be used.
Smart SIM Lock
The pocket WIFI is locked to the Smart network. That’s how they’re able to sell it so cheap. They hope to recover the cost of the unit with your spend on data packages in the future.
Although the pocket WIFI is branded as the FX-PR3L from Evoluzn USA, it’s actually the ALM-B890 from ATEL (AsiaTelco Inc, China).
Inside it features the Marvell PXA1802 LTE Chipset which is Category 4 150Mbps (megabits-per-second) downlink throughput and Release 8 TD-SCDMA HSPA+.
I’ve been able to reach speeds of 31 Mbps down and 26 Mbps up, very reasonable LTE speeds for the Philippines. But occasionally the pocket WIFI does not provide any connection, even if it shows a strong LTE connection. Rebooting the pocket WIFI usually solves the problem immediately.
The pocket WIFI occasionally turns off or reboots by itself. The web interface is slow and sometimes crashes, requiring a reboot to access the web interface again.
With light-medium use, I can get 4 hours of battery life from the pocket WIFI. Although I haven’t experienced it myself, I have heard reports of bloated batteries with this pocket WIFI and the previous version. Everyone I’ve spoken to has said the battery was replaced without charge.
Evoluzn appear to be aware of the problem because they have posted this text on their Facebook page:
“Due to limited stocks, we will prioritize users whose batteries are bloated, abnormally heating and not charging”
I expect in most countries, these issues would trigger a complete product recall like the Samsung Note 7.
If you connect the Pocket WIFI to your Mac or Windows computer by USB, it will appear as a wired network connection and allow you to surf without needing to use WIFI.
You can insert a Micro SD card and access those files wirelessly through the web interface. Unfortunately it’s extremely slow and sometimes causes the web interface to crash. It’s only usable for accessing very small .txt files.
This pocket WIFI cannot act as a WIFI repeater. That feature is commonly found in other pocket WIFIs and can be especially useful when you’re traveling and want to extend the range of an existing WIFI point.