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The last few years portable 3G routers have become more widely available for sharing one mobile (3G) broadband data connection with several clients through wifi. They are increasingly popular with the number of tablets (frequently only having wifi) coming on the market now. In this review we will take a look at the E5830, the 3G mobile hotspot modem from Huawei.

Specifications Huawei E5830

  • Operating frequency(3G): HSUPA/HSDPA/UMTS 2100MHz
  • Operating frequency(2G): GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900MHz
  • Speed: HSUPA 5.76Mbps; HSDPA 7.2Mbps
  • Interface: USB 2.0 high speed
  • Dimensions: 95 mm × 48 mm × 13 mm
  • Weight: 90g
  • Receive Diversity: HSUPA/HSDPA/UMTS 2100MHz
  • Micro SD card slot: Yes (Up to 32GB)
  • Equalizer: Yes
  • WiFi: 802.11.b/g
  • Encryption: WEP, WPA, WPA2

What is in the box ?

Our review model came in a small box containing the modem, a battery, a short Mini USB cable and an abbreviated manual in the local language (Dutch in this case). An English quickstart guide can be downloaded here.  According to the manual a wall  charger is an optional deliverable accessory. Most users these days will have a similar wall charger at home already that can be used to charge it. A micro USB port would have been better though, as most mobile devices are moving to that as a standard for the future.

Huawei’s first pocket Wifi Modem has a nice form factor that fits well in the palm of your hand and distinguishes it from the competition (Novatel and D-link). The bottom part has rounded corners while the topsurface has an aluminum colored coating with sharper edges. Part of the surface is a dark screen that contains 5 area’s that can be lighted with different colored symbols. These will show the status of the device when turned on, fortunately these lights don’t burn all the time, they will only show their signal for a small time before turning of. Pressing any button on the side will briefly turn them back on again so you can review the connection status on the device.

One of the long sides of the modem contains all the available buttons, from left to right there is the Power on/off, Wifi on/off (or WPS) and Connect button.

On the bottom edge we find the miniUSB port that can be used to charge it, in addition the modem can be used in USB mode through a cable connection.

On the other long side there is a cover for the microSD slot, you don’t have to remove the back cover to insert or replace a microSD card as on some mobile phones.

The top edge of the modem contains a release latch for the back cover, giving you access to the battery and SIMcard slot.

Here we can see the insides of the E5830, the SIMcard slot is easy to access when the battery is removed. Huawei conveniently printed the default Wifi access information inside the battery compartment, this is a device unique code based on the MAC and IMEI address. A great security feature as they have chosen not to release their modems with the same default Wifi network name and password!

Compared to a Vodafone branded version of the Novatel MiFi 2353 (similarly to the one reviewed last year by Remo) we see a different formfactor, with the Huawei also being a bit smaller. The smaller and rounder forms of the E5830 make it a better fit in your pocket!

Wireless connection

The main function of the E5830 is to work as a mobile hotspot that shares a 3G connection with the wifi clients that connect to it. To setup the modem you insert your SIM card in the slot under the battery, make sure to write down the SSID and Wifikey it will use the first time. Replace the battery and the backcover and turn it on by pressing the On/Off button until the lights start to burn.

There are 5 lights present with (briefly) the following status signals.

  1. the upper left one shows the SIM status: no signal (red), low signal (yellow) or good signal (green)
  2. the upper right one shows the battery status: low (red), good (green)
  3. the lower left with a W on it shows the wifi status: on (blue), off (no light)
  4. the lower right one (not shown on photo)  has a M on it and shows the network status: 3G (blue), 2G (green)
  5. there is also fifth signal light with an R on it in the middle showing the roaming status: roaming (red), no-roaming (no light)

When the modem has fully started you can connect with it using the access information located in the battery compartment. The configuration page can be found by typing in http://home.e5 or its default IP address, depending on the (mobile) client you use you will see the mobile or classical welcome page.

  • Mobile client web user interface

The above screenshot shows the mobile welcome page, the standard password is “admin”.

At the page shown after logging in you can select a Quick Setup wizard, or check the current status.

There is also a link to switch to the classic, less mobile friendly layout and a warning message when you want to make the switch. The full WebUI worked fine on the current generation mobile devices I used and gives you more options to setup the Huawei E5830.

The Quick Setup wizard allows you to setup your 3G Wifi Modem while connected to it with a mobile device. A great way to configure it without having a laptop present!

Finally, the mobile formatted status screen shows you all the detailed information regarding your connection, included are network type and signal level, roaming information and SIM card status.

  • Classic (full) web user interface

The classic WebUI shows a similar login page, but here you can also select first one of the available languages. In our version English as well as the local language.

In the full WebUI there is also a quick setup wizard that can be used for the initial setup of the Huawei E5830, however if you already know what you are doing when using these type of devices you can also opt to go directly to the advanced settings where you have even more control over it.

The screenshot above show the connections status screen. Here you can see the profile name that you are using and its connection setting and status.

Basic status screen gives a lot of information on both WAN and WLAN connection as well as some info regarding the device itself.

The advanced settings page contains several icons that will bring you to screens were you can alter settings related to SIM, mobile network, dial-up, dhcp and Wlan.

  • System icon will allow you to Modify Password, Restore Defaults, Reboot or show the System Version.
  • SIM settings icon will allow you to manage your Pin code or change Auto Validation setting.
  • Mobile network icon will allow you to change Network Settings or Search for a Network.
  • Wlan setting icon will allow you to change Wlan settings like security, basic setting such as SSID and a Wlan MAC filter.
  • Dial-up settings icon gives you an option to change Connection (auto, on demand or manual) or Profile settings.
  • DHCP settings icon allows you to change DHCP settings.

Finally the security page contains various network and security related settings. These are probably not needed by a regular user but can be used to fine-tune your portable router.

  • Firewall switch icon allows you to enable or disable the firewall, and setup an IP address filter.
  • Virtual server page gives you the opportunity to configure a virtual server like FTP server port mapping.
  • Special applications page to configure applications over the LAn such as videoconferencing or IP phone.
  • DMZ setting page to configure DMZ.
  • UPnP setting icon to enable or disable uPnP.

USB connection

The most important function for the E5830 is as an portable Wifi modem, but when directly connected to Windows or OS X you can also use it as an USB modem. Once connected to a windows laptop using the provided miniUSB cable the device installs itself a removable hard drive containing the software to control the modem. This software is named Mobile Partner and gives you the options to setup a connection to a mobile network as well as a SMS client. Furthermore a microSD card present in the slot on the E5830 can be read as a removable drive on your laptop.

The above screenshot shows an overview of the desktop client software as can be installed directly through a USB connection with the modem. There are a couple different screens available in the software with the SMS interface being the most useful one. Here you can read out the messages you received and even reply to them. Very useful when you are using a SIMcard for a mobile number you also use for this type of messages. With the desktop software you can also control the 3G connection you are using through the USB cable. Most users will not buy this modem to use it for its USB connection, but it can be useful to recharge it while using it at the same time.

Hands-on experience

The Huawei E5830 performed very well, handling laptops, phones, iPad and Kindle Wifi without any connection problems. Signal strength for 3G was better than for my mobile phones, resulting in a better mobile internet experience while travelling by car or train on my mobile providers suboptimal network (in the more rural areas). One of the obvious benefits of a pocket Wifi modem is the ability to place at the optimal location like a car dashboard while driving. Battery life was acceptable with 3-4 hours of usage, when no data is used the modem will go into standby and use very little power. The power settings can be optimized for your usage in the web interface. For the real poweruser Mugen has a 3900 mAh battery on the market that will easily help you through your working day. There is some room for improvement, an SMS client for the web interface would be a useful addition. Furthermore no wireless SD card access was available on our review model (with firmware version 666., this would be a valuable feature for a mobile user.

Concluding thoughts

Portable 3G routers are a great addition to the tool bag of a mobile power user. Sharing your mobile data connection with multiple devices can make you more productive while working and is also a great way to provide internet access to multiple users while relaxing. The Huawei E5380 is a fine example of the progress that has been made in mobility and a useful option for your mobile setup.


Incidentally, because you can tether this gadget to your laptop, this means that up to six people can connect at the same time: 5 wireless plus 1 tethered. You can also specify if the site will automatically connect to the 3G service or if you prefer to manually connect instead. You’ll also need to use the administrator’s tools when retrieving files from the inserted micro SD card.

Although the unit can be run from a USB cable included in the box, a benefit of the Huawei E5830 is the ability to run it from the built-in battery. That allows you to use it with any Wi-Fi-enabled device rather than just those that have a USB socket to power it from.

It is not a USB MICRO connector. That is a USB MINI connector.

I just bought one in Uganda and it works great. I bought the “unlocked” version so I can use back home in Florida. What companies offer service for this device? ATT, Tmobile?

this huawei can be my ISP? pls someone explains to me. i dont need a broadband kit? huawei E5830 becomes my ISP and wifi areas too?

Do the sim card need to be in surf promo or have load to access the wifi?

can i still use this modem even if it is not plugged in a laptop etc.?
pls. i badly needed a reply.

Help please! I was given an unlocked Huawei E5s that I would love to use, but when I turn it on, the display language is in Chinese and I need it in English! Does anyone know how i can change this? When I hook it up to my computer and launch the web interface, that web interface launches in English, but I can’t see anything in it that would enable me to change the display on the E5s to English. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Major Drawback is that it does not support Dynamic DNS.

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