HTC 5G Hub Router Review: 5G Mobile Broadband @ £50 Per Month with EE
Interested in getting home broadband internet speeds without the hassle of installation? Mobile broadband is an option that’s rapidly becoming popular across the UK. And with the advent of even faster 5G mobile data, those home broadband speeds are getting super fast.
Which is where EE’s new HTC 5G Hub router comes in. Could this be the router for you? We’ve got everything you need to know about mobile broadband and router options right here.
Table of Contents
What’s 5G Home Broadband?
Don’t worry, we’ll get to that router review in a second. But first, let’s just recap what mobile home broadband is. There are tons of ways to get the internet into your home. You can have a fibre optic cable, or a television cable, or a phone line. But all of these have one big flaw: you need to have some kind of cable installed in your home, or at least have an engineer come out and hook everything up. But what if you didn’t have to do that?
Mobile broadband is a way of using a router to connect to a mobile operator’s data infrastructure to get online. In the same way, as your mobile phone gets online, your mobile broadband router gets online. That router can then broadcast a WiFi signal meaning you can get all your devices online. Simple, right?
You won’t need any kind of installation, you’ll just sign up for a plan, plug your router in and be off to the races. This means that mobile broadband is a great choice for renters, or for those that move around a lot (since you just pick up your router and move with it, no need to re-arrange contracts or anything else). Mobile broadband is also a great idea for those that live in areas where other options just aren’t available yet, since most of the UK is covered by a mobile signal.
So what’s the downside? Firstly, let’s talk about something that WAS a downside but no longer is, the issue of speeds. In the past, mobile home broadband was a lot slower than any other internet option. This is no longer the case at all, you should get speeds equal to or faster than most other methods. There is an issue of money though. Mobile broadband plans do tend to be a little more expensive than other options, and some mobile broadband plans have data limits, which other internet plans generally don’t have.
All of that being said, mobile broadband can be awesome for some people. And if you’re getting mobile broadband, you’re going to need a mobile broadband router…
Introducing the HTC 5G Hub from EE
Alrighty, routers are pretty technical, but we’re going to leave the lingo to the experts and tell you about the HTC 5G Hub in a language we can all understand. Yes, there are tech specs for this hub, and you’ll find them on EE’s website, but let’s concentrate on things that will interest the average buyer.
EE is currently offering the HTC 5G Hub for a one-time payment of £100 when you sign up for a 5G mobile broadband plan. The router itself looks kind of like a fat tablet (similar to a Google Home Hub or an Amazon Echo Show). There are a few things that you’ll want to know about this router before opting to buy:
It’s a Tablet Too
Yes, this is a router and it’ll get that WiFi signal around your home. But the 5G Hub also has a display and acts like an Android tablet. You can use the display to play video, to show pictures, to cast music, anything that you’d do on a regular tablet pretty much. Set up the Hub somewhere central in your home and you’ll be able to get everyone’s calendar on there as well. Neat. The device has a 5-inch display and runs Android 9.0. You get access to the Google Play Store to add whatever apps you like, and there’s 32 GB of storage, with an SD card slot for up to 512 GB of additional memory.
It’s Plug and Play AND Unplug and Go
Once you’ve decided on a plan and received your router you can simply plug it into a wall socket, put in passwords etc, and you’ll be good to go. However, the 5G Hub does also have a battery option. Put batteries in and you can take the Hub with you wherever you go and use it to get tablets/laptops and the like online whilst you’re on the go.
Mobile broadband has a reputation for being slow, but not in this case. Theoretically, the HTC 5G Hub can support 5G speeds of up to 2630 Mbit/s. In reality, EE’s network currently has maximum speeds of 980 Mbit/s, and you’re likely to see actual speeds of around 150 Mbit/s since you’ll probably be sharing the connection among devices. However, that’s pretty darn fast, since a traditional fibre-optic broadband connection only gets speeds of around half that. So no worries about speed!
You Have Connectivity Options
Once set up you can connect up to 20 devices to the HTC Hub. We’ll be honest, that’s not quite as many as we’d like to see. If you’ve got a family with lots of tech and a smart home then 20 devices might be pushing it. But for the average user, it should be fine. There’s also one ethernet port, just in case you need to plugin for even faster speeds. However, it does NOT have a port for an external antenna, which means you won’t be able to boost that WiFi signal.
HTC 5G Hub Tech Specification
|Capacitive touch screen|
|HD (720 x 1280 pixels)|
|Size (length x width x edge thickness)||129 x 100 x 43 mm|
|Platform||Android™ 9.0 with HTC Sense™ for HTC 5G Hub|
|CPU||Qualcomm ® Snapdragon™ 855 Octa-core, with Snapdragon™ X50 5G Modem|
|Connection ports||USB-C 3.1 with DisplayPort support|
|Connections expandable through Gigabit Ethernet|
|Memory||RAM: 4GB / ROM: 32GB|
|Extended memory: microSD™ (up to 512GB)|
|Up to 20 Wi-Fi connections|
|Battery||Capacity: 7,660 mAh|
|-DC Charging (12V/2.5A)|
|-USB-C (QC 3.0 & PD 9V/2A)|
|Audio supported formats||Playback: .3gp, .mp4, .m4a, .aac, .ts, .flac, .mp3, .mid, .ogg, .mkv, .wav, .amr|
|Video supported formats||Playback: .3gp, .mp4, .ts, .webm, .mkv|
|SIM card and Mobile Networking||Nano SIM|
|Support up to 2.63 Gbps downlink. Uplink 287 Mbps|
|4G LTE (US)|
|FDD: Bands 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 25, 26, 66, 71|
|TDD: Band 41|
|5G NR Band: n41|
|4G LTE (Australia)|
|FDD: Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 20, 28, 66|
|TDD: Bands 38, 41|
|5G NR Band: n78|
The Downsides of The Hub
The HTC 5G Hub is a cool piece of tech, there’s no doubt about it. But there are a few downsides. The most important of these is the issue of location. Being that the Hub is a tablet as well you might be tempted to put it somewhere central in your home where everyone can get to it. However, that might not necessarily be the best placement. Routers tend to get stronger signals when placed close to windows or exterior walls. So don’t count on the fact that you can place your router exactly where it’s most convenient for you.
There are some technical flaws as well. Twenty devices sounds like a lot, but that might not be enough for the more technically inclined. Those with lots of devices and smart home connections might want to consider if this 20 device limit is realistic. One etherport is nice, and definitely better than none, but we’d like to see more. And finally, the lack of exterior antennae ports could be problematic for those in larger houses who need to broadcast a WiFi signal further.
The HTC 5G Hub isn’t perfect, and it will simply be the wrong choice for some households. But in general, it’s still a pretty awesome router…
5G Mobile Broadband Plans with EE
Okay, you might want to take a deep breath here. 5G tech is pretty new, and that means that prices are still pretty high. Actually, very high. Particularly when compared to slower, 4G mobile broadband options. However, do remember that you get those faster 5G data speeds. EE are currently offering two 5G mobile broadband plans that include the HTC 5G Hub:
- A 24 month contract with a £100 upfront payment and a 50 GB data limit for £50 a month
- A 24 month contract with a £100 upfront payment and a 100 GB data limit for £75 a month
Those are some pretty steep prices, and do note that there are data limits. Currently, there are no unlimited data options for 5G mobile broadband with EE. 100 GB sounds like a lot of data, but with speeds this fast you’ll need to be careful that you don’t accidentally go over that limit. You can buy extra data if you need it by opting for a data add on. This will be valid for 30 days only and will NOT automatically renew. The add on options are:
- 100 MB for £1
- 1 GB for £5
- 15 GB for £10
Additionally, if you’re an existing EE mobile customer you’ll get a free 20 GB of data for your mobile phone plan when signing up for 5G home broadband.
What Are the Alternatives?
With prices this high and data limits this low, is going with an EE 5G mobile broadband plan really your best bet? Let’s take a look at some of the alternatives to see exactly how they compare.
Other 5G Mobile Broadband Options
If you’re definite that you want 5G data speeds, then you do have a couple of other options available to you.
Mobile operator Three is currently offering the Three 5G Hub with speeds of around 100 Mbit/s. This lets you connect to up to 64 devices and it’s got two ethernet ports. There’s only one plan available right now, but it’s a good one. Unlimited data on a 12-month contract with £0 upfront for £35 a month. However, Three currently only offers this plan in London (other cities are coming soon!).
Your other option is to go with Vodafone. They’ll give you the 5G GigaCube with speeds of around 200 Mbit/s, which lets you connect to up to 64 devices, and has two ethernet ports and two external antennae ports. You get a range of plan options too:
- A 100 GB data limit for either £100 upfront (on an 18-month contract) or £325 upfront (on a 1-month contract) and £30 a month thereafter
- A 200 GB data limit for either £100 upfront (on an 18-month contract) or £325 upfront (on a one month contract) and £40 a month thereafter
- Unlimited data for £50 upfront (on an 18-month contract) or £325 upfront (on a one month contract) and £50 a month thereafter
Rather obviously, these plans are all cheaper than EE’s 5G plans. However, there is a question of coverage, since not everyone will be eligible for 5G plans from either Three or Vodafone. We’ll cover this issue below.
4G Mobile Broadband Options
Your other choice is to go with 4G, rather than 5G mobile broadband. In some cases this will mean opting for slower speeds, though not by too much. But it will generally mean paying lower prices, and since 4G coverage is far better than 5G coverage more people should qualify for 4G mobile broadband.
4G Alternatives with Three
Your best bet for decent speeds on a 4G plan with Three is to go with plans offering the Huawei B535 HomeFi+ router. This gets you around 100 Mbit/s, and it’s also got four ethernet ports. All three plans with the HomeFi+ offer unlimited data:
- A 24-month contract with £0 upfront and £20 a month
- A 12 month contract with £29 upfront and £28 a month
- A 1 month contract with £79 upfront and £32 a month
4G Alternatives with Vodafone
Going with Vodafone will get you the Gigacube (as opposed to the 5G Gigacube mentioned above), which only gets speeds of around 50 Mbit/s or so. It can connect with up to twenty devices, and has one ethernet port and two external antennae ports. The available plans are all 18-month contracts and require no upfront payment:
- A 100 GB data limit for £30 a month
- A 200 GB data limit for £40 a month
- Unlimited data for £50 a month
4G Alternatives with EE
Finally, you could opt for a 4G mobile broadband plan from EE, rather than their 5G plans. EE’s 4G plans come with the 4G Home Router which gets speeds of around 50 Mbit/s. You can connect to up to 32 devices, and the router has two ethernet ports and two external antennae ports. There are plenty of plan options as well:
- An 18 month contract for £129.99 upfront and a 10 GB data limit for £25 a month
- £0 upfront on an 18 month contract or £100 upfront for a 1 month contract and a 50 GB data limit for £35 a month
- £0 upfront on an 18 month contract or £100 upfront for a 1 month contract and a 100 GB data limit for £35 a month (yep, that’s the same price as the 50 GB data limit plan!)
- £0 upfront on an 18 month contract, or £100 upfront on a 1 month contract and a 200 GB data limit for £40 a month
- £0 upfront on an 18 month contract, or £100 upfront on a 1 month contract and a 300 GB data limit for £45 a month
- £0 upfront on an 18 month contract, or £100 upfront on a 1 month contract and a 500 GB data limit for £50 a month
Coverage with EE
As the largest mobile operator in the UK it should be no surprise that EE generally offer the best coverage as well. In fact, they boast 99% population coverage across the UK for 2G, 3G, and 4G mobile signals. However, 5G is new tech. It’s still under development and it is NOT available everywhere.
As of the date of writing EE offers 5G coverage in nine towns across the UK (London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham, Leicester, Manchester, Bristol, and Coventry). However, not everyone in those cities will get coverage. Additionally, EE plans to extend 5G coverage to a further 19 towns before the end of 2020.
Wherever you live you MUST check that you have 5G coverage before signing up for 5G home broadband. You can do this by putting your postcode into EE’s website on their 5G coverage checker.
EE 5G Home Broadband
Harness 5G speeds for home, business, and in-between with the world’s first smart hub from HTC and EE
- 50GB data
- £100 up-front
- £50 per month
24-month contract. Allows you to connect up to 20 devices. All-Day Battery, Qualcomm ® Snapdragon™ 5G and a Plug & Play Entertainment Hub.