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September 08, 2011

ZTE MF60 HSPA+ Pocket WiFi Review

We featured this HSPA+ capable mobile hotspot from ZTE a few weeks ago and we’ve finally gotten a review unit to test. Like many other pocket WiFi (MiFi) devices before it, the ZTE MF60 is one pretty kick-ass unit. If only it were more affordable.

The ZTE MF60 looks like your typical portable mobile hotspot device — small, lightweight, bar soap shaped 3G/WiFi router. Unlike the previous ones we’ve seen and reviewed here, this one actually supports HSPA+ networks — just like the Tonino Lamborghini Tattoo stick and the Smart Bro Rocket.

That means you can theoretically reach as fast as 21Mbps over mobile internet. Of course locally, we only have Globe promising up to 10Mbps and up to 12Mbps with Smart on their respective HSPA+ networks.

The performance, coverage and actual street speeds of the telcos are another matter altogether. Here’s our collective speed tests for Globe HSPA+ and Smart HSPA+.

Given these initial test data as control points, we tried out the ZTE MF60 if it can achieve similar or better results.

The MF60 comes with the usual accessories — the wall charger, 1500mAh removable Li-Ion battery, a micro-USB cable. It’s got a microSD card slot on the side (up to 32GB, card sold separately) and a CRC9 port for connecting an external antenna. The SIM card slot is found inside, beneath the battery compartment.

There’s a small OLED display, about 2cm x 1cm, at the front that shows the battery life indicator, signal strength, connection status, cellular network, WiFi status and number of devices connected.

The device supports a slew of GSM cellular networks and frequencies, ranging from GPRS all the way up to HSPA+.

ZTE MF60 4G MiFi Router
HSDPA/HSUPA/UMTS 850/1900/2100 MHz
GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
HSPA+: DL 21.6Mbps, UL 5.76Mbps
WCDMA CS: 64Kbps UL/DL
WCDMA PS: 384Kbps UL/DL
WiFi Standard: 802.11 b/g/n
WiFi Security: WEP/WPA/WPA2/WAPI
Up to 8 concurrent users/devices on WiFi

The WiFi router supports speeds on the local network of up to 54Mbps and can handle a maximum of 8 wireless devices at the same time.

The device performs really well and connects to the network in less than 20 seconds from the Off state. The old MyFi devices can take between 30 seconds to 1 minute to do the same.

It auto-detects the cellular network for the SIM card so when you slap a Globe, Smart or Sun Cellular SIM, it automatically plugs in the correct APN settings.

ZTE used a web-based administration panel for the MF60 (provided by GoAhead Webserver) and supports a lot of operating systems (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, etc).

Device management and even SMS management can be done via the web interface, which is great since you can send text messages thru the device over WiFi (mostly used for subscribing to data plans or balance inquiry).

The only downside here is that if you’re having problems connecting to WiFi, you won’t be able to access the admin panel and diagnose the problem. I have not yet experienced that with this unit though. (Update: It will still work as long as you plug the device via USB to the PC and run Mobile Hotspot. Would be a problem if you only have a WiFi phone or tablet with you when that happens.)

Our numerous speed tests in the last two weeks were a bit erratic but, in general, they were impressive to say the least.

This is the best one we got with the Smart network (using the SmartBro Rocket SIM):

Done at the same time of day and same location (3AM, Bangkal, Makati) previously tested on SmartBro Rocket.

I was able to connect to an Smart HSPA+ network once in Megamall (PLDT Jump Center) but only got around 2Mbps downlink speed. The uplink speed was great though at 1.5Mbps (highest I recorded ever).

This is the best one we got on the Globe network (using a regular prepaid Tattoo SIM):

What’s surprising with this one is that I only used a regular prepaid SIM card subscribed on Globe SuperSurf 50. This test was done at Starbucks in Paseo de Magallanes at around 4pm.

Note though that results will greatly vary depending on your location and the time of day.

As for battery life, I was able to squeeze a total of 4 hours and 45 minutes on a single, full charge. This is with continuous use with web surfing on two laptops but with minimal file downloads.

The last 2 weeks with this device has been pretty good — the hardware is impressive and the network connectivity has been very satisfactory both on Globe and Smart networks. I didn’t include speed tests for Sun Cellular since they don’t have HSPA+ yet.

The only downside of this unit is the retail price — Php7,500 a pop (it’s unlocked and actually a rare find). Still not that bad considering the unlocked Huawei E5 (supports HSDPA only) could set you back around Php5k to Php6k.

Disclosure: HotGadgets provided us with this review unit. You can find the item being sold in TipidPC here and in Sulit here.

ZTE's HSPA+ Pocket WiFi selling for Php7,500
Hands-on: ZTE MF90 LTE Pocket WiFi

78 Responses to “ZTE MF60 HSPA+ Pocket WiFi Review”

  1. Nino
    Twitter: technotour
    says:

    not bad… honestly for the past 2 years of using broadband internet, I have never experienced speeds up to max of 2 Mbps but this is interesting. is 4G HSPA+ already officially available in metro manila?

  2. jonaflormicfren
    Twitter: daniojr
    says:

    Wow, I like this one, and I want to try it to prove what is on review.

  3. Elfin says:

    Yuga, I have a galaxy s2, i think i can as well achieve those speeds.If only i know the correct APN settings.

  4. Anon says:

    please update the globe plans.
    globe has upgraded it’s plans for a few weeks now.

    3Mbps is now 5Mbps
    5Mbps is now 7Mbps
    10Mbps is now 12Mbps

    • ogago says:

      o nga nagulat ako, nagddownoad ako 7gb ng video saglit lang tapos agad.

    • Randz says:

      the new bandwidth update is just for show. you can’t reach those speeds even in a strong HSDPA signal. i have 5-7mbps subscription with this MF60 device and the fastest download rate i got was 2.58Mbps. and I am in makati near city hall. no tall buildings nearby that may block the signal

    • yuga says:

      @randz – 5-7Mbps? what postpaid plan are you subscribed to?

    • Randz
      Twitter: sheijin
      says:

      @yuga Plan 1,299. Modem is free compared to the next lower plan 999 (3-5mbps) na merong monthly additional charge para sa modem. yung nasa website ng Globe, di daw updated. got it from Globe Greenbelt

    • Randz
      Twitter: sheijin
      says:

      @yuga sorry, it was up to 5 mbps (Plan 1,299 and currently up to 3mbps in Globe’s website). i reviewed my chat history with Globe CSR.

  5. benchmark says:

    OUT OF THE TOPIC:

    Hotgadgets?! That is where I bought my C Peel. :)

  6. Ram Jof says:

    Although the ZTE MF60 mifi is capable of faster than 7.5 Mbps, an openline Huawei E585 using Globe Tattoo postpaid Mifi sim under Plan 999 is able to achieve speedtest results as high as 10.92 Mbps which still falls within the HSPA capability of the E585. Moreover you save 2,400 pesos getting this unit and it lasts 4.5 – 5 hours too.
    [IMG]http://i489.photobucket.com/albums/rr259/mcflaptop/Huawei%20E585%20performance/E585topspeeds1.png[/IMG]

    • chitokingfisher says:

      relatively slow pings and upload speeds

    • yuga says:

      @ram – actually, the top speed of the e585 is 14Mbps. you’re very lucky your location is not congested to achieve those speeds. i wonder what i’ll get when I test it there.

    • Ram Jof says:

      @yuga

      I live just a few meters away from Globe’s tower at Tandang Sora Avenue, Quezon City, and most of the top speeds occurred past 12 midnight up to 8 am. It’s always 5/full bar strength but the signal in the E585 shows H (doesn’t specify HSDPA or HSPA or HSPA+). Until the service providers can really deliver >14 Mbps, its quite sufficient.

  7. charbee says:

    i can reach up to 500 KBps download using regular sim using my iphone4. Sat & Sundays only, and averages at 400KBps during weekdays. Time 12AM until 7AM.

    Regular speed during the day is 170KBps. kinda lucky! :D using most of it for torrenting hehe

    PS: that’s Bytes not bits XD

  8. BikerBoi
    Twitter: PinoyMTBiker
    says:

    Sana ganuon din kabilis mga DSL natin.

  9. Soul Annihilator
    Twitter: soulannihilator
    says:

    Sir Yuga, ma-access pa rin po yung admin panel even if you have problems connecting to it through wi-fi. You just need to connect it to your laptop via USB, the drivers installation will initiate automatically. If the installation didn’t start, you can manually install it by going to My Computer, a new drive will appear for your device. In my case dahil custom firmware ng Globe yung nakalagay sa ZTE MF60 ko, Globe Tattoo icon yung lumabas sa desktop, not sure with openline ZTE MF60. Once you click that icon deretso ka sa admin panel.

    • yuga says:

      @Soul Annihilator – thanks for that tip. I was thinking along that line but did not try it. Mine shows up as 3G with a “Mobile Hotspot” label.

  10. aedos says:

    Just buy a smartphone nalang with hotspot functionality.

  11. andy says:

    Is it possible to change the APN settings or choose to use one specific frequency only just in case autodetec failed the right settings?

    • yuga says:

      @andy – yes, manual or automatic

    • kev says:

      in manual mode you can only change the 3g or 2g mode not the Frequency. this is the problem regarding this device. Im using this to connect to HSPA+ of smart, but since smart has 2 bands the device will automatically detect the highest signal band you can get HSDPA, HSPA or HSPA+. This is frustrating -_-

  12. bong says:

    Good morning Sir Abe! I want a wireless internet connection here in Zamboanga City. I need it for video chatting. I would be using it in Barangay Pasonanca and Barangay Guiwan. May i know what is your recommendation? Thank you.

    • yuga says:

      @bong – not very familiar with your area but if you need wireless connectivity, I recommend WiMax over 3G. I think Globe and Smart has WiMax service there.

  13. Obed says:

    pwede ba yan sa mga pc sa internet cafes with multiple users???

  14. Ajcalderonmd says:

    San kaya nakabili nyan? I appreciate the review at wala ako matanungan tungkol sa device na yan

    • yuga says:

      @Ajcalderonmd – there’s a link above to TipidPC and Sulit (end of review) where it is being sold and shipped nationwide.

  15. kev says:

    Frustrating lang sir Yuga yung changing of Bands niya. if you are using the smart HSPA+ namimili talga siya ng mas malakas na signal…

    • yuga says:

      @kev – should be fixed with future firmware updates

    • ajcalderonmd says:

      Just want to ask, is that a bad thing? Di ba mas malakas na signal e mas maganda? Is is understood na pag hspa+ ang signal e dapat mas malakas? Thanks, im planning to buy one kse ngayong weekend

  16. Kevs says:

    Oo badthing siya kung malakas hspa signal sa inyo tapos mahina yung hspa+ ang magiging connection niya yung hspa lang hindi yung hspa+… Pero sana may mga firmware updates para maayos yung problema..

  17. ocommon says:

    Sir yuga, paano kung TNT or TM sim ko. may HSPA+ na ba mga yun since connected naman sila sa Smart & Globe??

  18. Noel Ponce says:

    Sir Yuga, just want to ask kung anong klaseng external antenna ang pwedeng gamitin for ZTE MF60? Is the crc9 antenna for Huawei the same with Zte MF60? Please advise, thanks.

  19. Noel Ponce says:

    Sir Yuga, just want to ask kung anong klaseng external antenna ang pwedeng gamitin for ZTE MF60? Is the crc9 antenna for Huawei models the same with Zte MF60? Please advise, thanks.

  20. jigsgfx says:

    sir yuga ask lng bakit kaya ganon kabuy qo lng ng Huawei E353 usb sa Hotspot din, kasi nkita qo sa iba halos naabot ng 4-5mb kht HSDPA lng signal pero nkta qo sa list ng globe HSPA+ site na nsa site nyo eh meron dito sa Sta. Ana at Punta, Manila exact location qoh, pero ang max speedtest qoh eh 200-300kbps lng sa tingin nyo sir bkt kaya gnon? any idea?

    • jigsgfx says:

      sorry sir clear qo lang ung nbuy qong Huawei eh ung E353 n naabot ng 21mbps nbuy qo sa Hotgadgets knina.. kasi according sa list ng HSPA+ eh meron dito sa area qo Punta Sta. Ana Manila, pero ang nsagap qoh HSDPA lang tpos 200-300kb lng speedtest ngtataka aqo bt gnon sir any idea po?

  21. Santelmo
    Twitter: iamsantelmo
    says:

    sir Yuga, bakit ganun? sa MF60 namin under Globe plan 1299, max speed lang namin sa speedtest eh 0.52mbps lang from Manila to LA, California server. Pero pag Globe to Globe server, umaabot ng 3mbps ^_^ Pag via Smart server mababa din, nasa 0.32mbps lang.

    Sabi ng sales agent upto 7mbps “daw” mas mabilis pa connection ng current BayanTel DLS namin.

    Is there anyway to increase the speed? What is the best external antenna (aside from crc9) and where can we buy it and how much? ^_^

    I’ve also read something about achieving a RSSI lower than 50 by turning the antenna to get a better speed? what is RSSI?

    Thank you po ^_^

    BTW, lahat po sa setting namin is Automatic, sa pag kuha ng signal from 3G or HSDPA, etc.

    • Randz
      Twitter: sheijin
      says:

      Santelmo, subscriber din ako ng Superstick. Ganyan din ang naeencounter ko na speed ng ZTE MF60 ko. Ang pinakamabilis na nakuha ko sa speedtest ay 3mbps. minsan lang. usually < 1mpbs. I will try yung binebentang external antenna kung ok.

      sir yuga, meron ka bang idea if the external antenna is worth to buy? i am seeing a ~800 pesos sa sulit.

  22. carlvill says:

    has anyone tried using this device for gaming? for the ps3? lag has always been an issue on my wired connection.

    • Soul Annihilator
      Twitter: soulannihilator
      says:

      Very good for downloading full games or demos. Downloaded God of War 3 Demo (2.67 GB) in just 2 hours. For online gaming I won’t recommend it unless you can receive HSPA+ signal (though I haven’t tried it yet). High ping rates causes a lot of disconnects while playing online. Wired connection is still much better.

  23. drw says:

    sir just a quick question whats the best provider ung normal use lng for gprs and buddy rush purposes (fb game po un buddy rush)

  24. vm says:

    sir, ung Smart Bro SIM – Plan 999 unlimited… pwede ba un dito. thanks. :)

  25. Michbern says:

    Quick question lang. Just got the superstick plan 1299 from globe din. One thing I noticed about this router is this. If low batt na siya, when I plug it in the outlet. nag charge2x siya (graphics nung battery nag slide2x). Pero after 2-3 hours. Nag stop2x na yung battery charging (hindi na nag move2x yung battery graphic on upper right). If i remove the charger from the convenience outlet. Full charge yung battery, but after 10 seconds or so.. nag drain2x then low batt na kaagad. Is this a defect or ganyan talaga? I will try to charge the unit through USB-PC. Will check if ganyan pa rin

    • Soul Annihilator
      Twitter: soulannihilator
      says:

      Ganyan din sakin. Kung gusto mo ma-full charge, turn it off first then plug it. Ngayon kung kelangan mo talaga siyang gamitin pero lowbatt na just leave it plugged it until you finish with your internet activity tapos saka mo turn off then charge.

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Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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