It’s easy to think there’s not much to differentiate one dongle from another. After all, with the exception of the odd brightly hued number or limited edition designer variety, they all look pretty much alike. But while 3’s new Huawei E365 dongle doesn’t look massively attention grabbing at first sight, it stands out amid a sea of identi-kit.
Unlike traditional dongles, the E367 features a flip-up USB connector that tucks away neatly. And it’s no mere cosmetic change, either. The hinge means you can move the dongle around to get the best possible reception. More importantly, it’s handy when you’re on your crowded commute, because you can flip it upright rather than have it sticking out obstrusively lengthways.
The real selling point, however, is that this is the first 3 dongle to feature HSPA+ technology. Without blinding you with science, this means it houses multiple antennae and advanced modulation to deliver mobile internet speeds of up to 21.1Mb.
So how does it measure up? Using Top10.com’s 3G speed checker in various locales around London and surrounding areas at peak and off-peak periods of demand, we got an average of 5.9Mb, a measured, consistent connection. By way of comparison, 3’s soon-to-be-obsolete E1750 dongle could only manage 1.4Mb.
The E367 performed well when streaming content, too, and loaded web pages noticeably faster than its older stablemate. And you can expect a more marked improvement countrywide in months to come when 3 completes its network upgrade.
The pay as you go and contract options that include the E367 are pretty keenly priced. You can grab one with 1GB of data allowance for £69.99 or there’s a rolling one month contract at £15.99 per month for 5GB usage with a £49.99 upfront charge. If you’re a heavier user, though, there’s also a 24-month deal at a shade over £18 per month with a whopping allowance of 15GB and no fee upfront.
We were for the most part impressed with Huawei’s new offering. The Chinese company’s offer to provide a Wi-Fi service for the Tube network was recently politely rebuffed by the government on spurious security grounds. But the E367 is a more than welcome addition to the broadband landscape.