Vodafone WiFi Cube 4G review: Sharing fast Internet

Vodafone and Huawei would have a winning combination were it not for one caveat

Vodafone  WiFi Cube 4G
  • Vodafone  WiFi Cube 4G
  • Vodafone  WiFi Cube 4G
  • Vodafone  WiFi Cube 4G
  • Expert Rating

    4.25 / 5

Pros

  • Plug and play setup
  • Managed via a fantastic app
  • Fast Internet
  • Good range
  • Can share Internet with multiple devices

Cons

  • Mobile data is expensive, relative to fixed broadband
  • Mobile data fluctuates in speed

Would you buy this?

Vodafone’s latest 4G modem proves an ideal investment for those who don't have the infrastructure for a fixed line service. The Wi-Fi Cube 4G is manufactured by Huawei, a Chinese company whose core competency is the building of networks, and that includes Vodafone’s own.

Plug and play setup

Huawei’s WiFi Cube 4G is a Wi-Fi modem of a new breed. Wireless modems typically pack an internal battery for use on the go. Huawei’s Cube differs because it has been designed to connect home devices to the Internet. It plugs into a powerpoint like any modem, and it disperses a fast Internet signal over Vodafone’s Cat4 LTE network.

Setting up the wireless router requires only that a SIM is inserted in the bottom and that it is plugged into a power point. Two LED lights indicate the status of the wireless and cellular signals, while the button up top mercifully turns off a glowing blue light powerful enough to light up a room.

The ‘Cube’ moniker is a misnomer as the Huawei Wi-Fi modem is in the shape of a rectangular prism
The ‘Cube’ moniker is a misnomer as the Huawei Wi-Fi modem is in the shape of a rectangular prism

Two external antennas can be plugged into the flaps, visible on the right side, to boost the reception signal if needed.
Two external antennas can be plugged into the flaps, visible on the right side, to boost the reception signal if needed.

It is possible to plug a device directly into the Cube 4G by way of an Ethernet port on its back. This is recommended for personal computers, televisions or gaming consoles.

Controlling and configuring the modem is easily done using a companion app, which supports both Android and Apple smartphones and tablets. The application displays the remaining data allowance, makes it possible to send text messages and can be used to transfer media between different devices.

The WiFi Cube’s base has a Wi-Fi key. Smartphones and tablets can configure the settings of the wireless modem once this key is entered into the application.
The WiFi Cube’s base has a Wi-Fi key. Smartphones and tablets can configure the settings of the wireless modem once this key is entered into the application.

Vodafone’s improved network

Vodafone’s 4G network covers 95 per cent of the Australian population. Compatibility with Cat4 LTE allows data to be transferred at a theoretical maximum of 150 Megabits per second (Mbps).

The modem itself supports single-band 802.11n and has a claimed range of 250 metres. Different factors, such as the structure of a building and the placement of the Huawei modem, will influence the range of its Wi-Fi signal.

A Vodafone microSIM slides into the base
A Vodafone microSIM slides into the base

Good Gear Guide tested the WiFi Cube 4G over a two week period in our double story townhouse. All of our devices — multiple smartphones and tablets, a Chromecast and a PlayStation 4 — retained a fast connection, even when we went upstairs. The signal naturally weakened, but we were always within the Huawei modem’s range.

Read more: Free Vodafone calls ring in Chinese New Year

Speed tests

Tests performed at 1.30pm in North Sydney, NSW, achieved a download speed of 39.22Mbps and an upload speed of 43.79Mbps. These tests were conducted a metre away from the Huawei WiFi Cube 4G.

One minute later we performed the same test approximately 30 metres away in our test centre. A speed test at this distance from the modem returned a download speed of 27.77Mbps and an upload speed of 19.01Mbps. These results illustrate how the placement of a modem in a home or office ultimately affects the actual Internet speed.

Speed tests performed in our Bankstown, NSW, house averaged 47.62Mbps for downloads and 13.7Mbps for uploads. Often we had five devices relying on the WiFi modem, and although the speeds were shared between each of them, the combination of Huawei’s WiFi Cube 4G and Vodafone’s improved network consistently resulted in fast downloads. In fact, the speeds achieved by Vodafone’s network surpassed that of Telstra’s Wi-Fi 4G Advanced II tested two weeks ago.

A speed test performed at 8.30am in North Sydney
A speed test performed at 8.30am in North Sydney

The downside

The tempting proposition of Vodafone’s Wi-Fi modem is undermined by an important caveat. Mobile data costs significantly more than that of broadband, and although Vodafone’s pricing remains competitive against rivalling mobile Internet offerings, it can’t compete against fixed line broadband.

Vodafone offers plans with a maximum of 25GB for $90 a month. Every additional gigabyte is another $10. Anyone partial to multimedia will likely go over the 25GB maximum allowance. This is a product reserved for people who don’t have the option of a fixed line service, and will only use it for emails, basic webpages and to update the software of their computer.

Pricing taken from Vodafone's website on the date of publication
Pricing taken from Vodafone's website on the date of publication

Final thought

Huawei’s WiFi Cube 4G and Vodafone’s network are a dynamic duo. The modem is easy to set up, has an attractive application, a strong enough range and, in metropolitan areas, impressive Internet speeds.

Our only concern is the cost. The low data allowance effectively limits what Internet can be used. Many will have to cut down on YouTubing and music streaming, or face the wrath of an inflated bill.

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Read more on these topics: Vodafone, 4g, lte, Huawei, WiFi. 802.11n, WiFi Cube 4G, Cat4
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