3G Performance Test: Mifi vs Touchnote vs X70 vs S5

Updated on 12 November 2019 by

I spent some time last night testing four 3G-capable devices for both speed and reception on three different provider networks from my desk in my office here in Bonn, Germany just a few kilometres from the global head-office of T-Mobile. The results are very interesting with the Mifi being a great all-rounder and the X70 surprising with some very high-end speeds. The Viliv S5 was disappointing. I was even surprised with the results from the different providers.

Update: Some reports are coming in (see comments) that the 3G on the S5 brings in good results. It’s possible I have a faulty unit here. Maybe a poorly soldered antenna. If anyone else has an S5 and can do comparisons with other 3G devices, please let us know your results. Thanks.

Devices tested

Mifi 2352 3G hotspot from Novatel. HSPA capable.  [More information]

Viliv S5 with built-in Huawei EM770. HSPA capable [More information]

Viliv X70 EX with built-in Huawei EM770. HSPA capable [More information]

Gigabyte Touchnote with reseller-fitted Novatell Expedite EU870D. HSDPA only. [More information]

Reception Test

With an average of over 3 bars (from 5) reception, the MiFi reported the best reception of all devices. This result should be taken with a pinch of salt because of course the ‘meters’ aren’t calibrated between devices but the MiFi certainly felt strong. I’ve used the Gigabyte Touchnote many times in extreme 3G situations now and it too is strong and returned a consistent 3-bar reception level at my test desk. Its difficult to pick a winner between the two because as you move towards the edge of a cell, the Touchnote is likely to be the better performer with it’s bigger antenna. The X70 was reliable too showing strong 2-3 bar reception figures on the fastest technologies. The one disappointing result was the Viliv S5 which consistently failed to attach to 3G networks. Reception quality is clearly much lower on the S5 than all other devices.

Speed Test

The speed tests were done using Speedtest.net over a period of about 3 hours. Remember that results very over time, weather conditions, cell load and position but by remaining at my desk for all tests I was able to get a feel for the speeds of the devices and, important for me, the quality of Internet service from the three providers I tested. The Mifi was used in hotspot mode.

Download Test results:

mifi_download_speeds x70_download_speeds touchnote_download_speeds

Upload Speed results:

mifi_upload_speedsx70_upload_speeds touchnote_upload_speeds

Conclusion

Speedtest.net over Fonic 3g network.The Mifi appears to be limited in it’s ability to download when used in hotspot mode (not tested in USB modem mode) although the 1mbps figures are quite acceptable and the reception appears to be excellent. There could be an issue with the early firmware too so we’re getting this checked out through Mobilx.eu, the reseller. Overall though, the MiFi looks like the best all-round 3G device out of the test with stable figures across the board. The X70, with it’s HSPA modem showed the highest download scores and in one case, Speedtest recorded 4mbps download over the Fonic / 02 network. It couldn’t quite reach the high speeds on the Vodafone network. This could have been due to the load on the Vodafone network or the slightly less sensitive antenna. The Touchnote download speeds were also very good but highlight the limits of its  HSDPA modem which can only support 384kbps upload speeds. For general use though, the Touchnote is very good and I’d rather have high quality reception than extreme upload speeds. Unfortunately, the Viliv S5 I have here just wasn’t capable of getting consistent 3G results. Standing near a window helped but that’s not the point of the test. In the given scenario the Viliv S5 wasn’t able to complete any of the Speedtest results within a reasonable time and the built-in antenna made no difference to reception quality.

As for providers, clearly Fonic, who use the 02 network, are the best in my office area but in general, I don’t use 3G in my office area! I have been testing these networks for a long time though and have been impressed with the 02 data network in Bonn and Cologne. As a result, I’m thinking of cancelling my low-end T-Mobile data contract (my Vodafone data contract has already been cancelled) and getting an Alice 19.95 Euro unlimited 7.2/1.4mbps pre-paid broadband card. Alice use the same network and as I’ve tested Skype with it, I’m pretty happy that it’s a nice open network. (although it does use a different APN to Fonic so there’s a risk there!) 20 Euro per month for 5GB (and then unlimited over GPRS) looks like the best deal in Germany for me at the moment. Given that I can use 5 devices with the Mifi and that the Mifi is proving to have great reception and acceptable throughput, I have to ask myself whether I really need 3G built-in to any of my devices now.

Clearly the MiFi reduces the need for built-in 3G so like me, you’ll have to ask yourself if it’s worth it to look at 3G-capable UMPCs any more. The MiFi doesnt cost much more than a built-in option, is flexible, is easy to use, saves ultra mobile PC battery life (close-range Wifi takes less power than 3G in most cases) and it mobilises up to 5 WiFi devices on one 3G 502060211contract.

Update: Finally, after seeing that JKKMobile got over 2mbps download on his MiFi, I tested and tested further. I did, once, mange to get a 2.38mbps average download speed, again, on the Fonic/02 network. Note the fantastic ping times of 65ms. Clearly the MiFi is geared towards reliability, stability and reception quality rather than speed. In my opinion, it’s the right balance.

14 Comments For This Post

  1. Steve 'Chippy' Paine says:

    New article: 3G Performance Test: Mifi vs Touchnote vs X70 vs S5 http://cli.gs/EBYvY

  2. Joao Oliveira (BassoPT) says:

    Hi.

    With Vodafone Portugal, in Lisbon, I’m getting generally 3.1Mpbs download and 1.1Mps upload. Trying different hours of the day, different points in the city. Never got anything lower than 2.5Mbps. Event tried to download Office while driving (around 50 / 60kmh) using UMID M1 and was getting steady real 270Kpbs.

    For me these are great results, specially for PT networks, which normally don’t preform that well. These are the best results I ever got around here why any 3g modem!

    Joao.

  3. Joao Oliveira (BassoPT) says:

    Just made a few more speedtest, testes using far away Servers like Lisbon to Germany and Lisbon to Finland ;) and got on both 1.8Mbs download and 0.9 upload.

    I think these are great results?

    Joao.

  4. citivolus says:

    Don’t the S5 and X70 have the same modem and so reception and performance should be similar? Maybe there is a defect with your particular S5?

  5. Joao Oliveira (BassoPT) says:

    Not that simply Citivolus.

    They bought use the same modem but they are different devices with different hardware inside (ssd, memory, wifi card (?!?)) everything can affect the results.
    I’m sure that is why Steve did both tests.

    For exemple I’m getting better results on my nc10 and 1008HA than on the UMID using MIFI, only one device connected at a time exactly on the same place!

  6. Chippy says:

    The main thing will be the antenna. A well designed, large antenna brings advantages. It’s like bass speakers, there’s no substitute for size!!!

  7. Chris Davies says:

    “The MiFi doesnt cost much more than a built-in option, is flexible, is easy to use, saves UMPC battery life (close-range Wifi takes less power than 3G in most cases) and it mobilises up to 5 WiFi devices on one 3G contract”

    For me, bandwidth and carrier aside, this is the real game-changer here. Having a separate data contract for each 3G-enabled mobile device, even if the contracts are relatively cheap, has never made much sense to me, and I don’t much like swapping SIMs either. Ironically I made sure the VAIO TZ I bought a couple of years back had integrated 3G, but after the one month trial I didn’t bother subscribing.

    The MiFi just seems to make sense in economic terms, in battery life and in flexibility. Just my two-cents, mind :)

  8. Bogdan says:

    I was going to buy the S5 with 3G. Are you saying I shouldn’t buy it? Could it be a problem with your S5 ?

  9. Chippy says:

    It could be. See JKK’s results below.

  10. jkkmobile says:

    I get 100% same speed on both S5 and X70.. both my devices are equally good on 3G

  11. ZankChank says:

    Chippy,

    I use software on my Windows Mobile phone the HTC Wizard (or T-Mobile MDA) that allows me to make my phone a hotspot just like the MiFi. Based on my experience with my phone and video reviews of the MiFi I am going to guess that HEAT may be a major variable to how fast the MiFi may perform. My HTC Wizard and friends’ phones which used the same hotspot program on their Windows Mobile phones experienced high temperatures (very warm or hot to touch) which sometimes caused the WiFi hardware to shut off sometimes although rarely. I suspect using the MiFi as a modem, in which it is not transmitting WiFi signals, that it will run much cooler than in hotspot mode. Can you verify this?

    JKKMobile,

    As a response to your video on hacking to charge via USB: Charging while acting as a hotspot may pose overheating issues with the unit and/or battery which is why the manufacture does not support it out of the box.

  12. Steve 'Chippy' Paine says:

    @nii_teiko mifi nicely tuned for stability. http://short.to/wxea

  13. Steve 'Chippy' Paine says:

    @mikecane Real world Mifi speedtests. http://short.to/wxea

  14. Mike Cane says:

    RT: @chippy: @mikecane Real world Mifi speedtests. http://short.to/wxea @TaxMan45

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