MiFi vs the router, which internet device should you buy?


Accessing internet from your smartphone is a no-brainer. With the right internet settings of any mobile network in Uganda, it’s almost plug-and-play to connect to the internet.

But if you want to access the internet with other means, you probably have two other options; 3G/4G LTE MiFi or 3/4G router. Now 3G or 4G routers are completely different from ordinary WiFi routers you buy from electronics shops on Kampala road as I already explained. Not every router is capable of connecting to mobile data network and supply you with internet. And WiFi and MiFi are also completely different things. With the confusion cleared, lets help you make a decision to either get a MiFi or router.

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Read more: The simplest difference between 3G/4G LTE and WiFi-only routers

Africell Uganda MiFi

Africell Uganda MiFi

Am particularly a fan of MiFis. That’s because they are the best replacement for the good-old USB modems or dongles of back-in-the-day. MiFis can share your internet connection with other devices such as tablets, smartphones, laptops unlike USB dongles. MiFis also don’t need you to have the right software for your computer. They just work!

Read more: The Mi-Fi is the new USB Internet dongle

But compared 3G or 4G routers their bigger brother, MiFis are less expensive, portable and  are less complicated to use. For instance Huawei E5573 4G LTE MiFi from MTN Uganda supporting up to 10 users is priced at Ugx 125,000 while the Vodafone Uganda 4G LTE MiFi with upto 15 users supported costs Ugx 149,000 while the MiFi from Smile Uganda is priced at Ugx 245,000.

MiFis are great for personal and home use. MiFis support between 5-10 users on average which means you can hook up almost everyone at home or in the office to the internet using this little device.

However, if you have more devices or users that need to use a single data plan, then you need a router. A router can connect at least 20 users to the internet using the same Simcard. Unlike a MiFi that can run off battery juice, your router needs to constantly be plugged to an external power source. This means you can’t move around with it like a MiFi.


Huawei B683 3G wireless router

But to sum it all up, a router is more costly than a MiFi, but it supports more users and more features. For example Huawei E5251 MiFi supporting upto 10 users from MTN Uganda is priced at Ugx 210,000 or the Huawei B681 3G router from MTN Uganda supports upto 32 users and is priced at Ugx 249,000.

This table summaries the difference between routers and MiFis.

FeatureMiFi3G/4G router
PortabilityLight-weight, pocket-size deviceHeavy and cumbersome
Power supplyUses battery and socket powerUses only socket power
No. of usersSupports less users (About 10 users)Supports more users(About 30 users)
CostLess expensive (starts from Ugx 125,000)More costly (Starts from Ugx 299,000)

So should you buy a MiFi or router? It totally depends on your needs. If you want something less complicated and less costly, then a MiFi is your choice. But if you are a heavy user with need for support for more users connected and power-user features, then a router is your friend. Personally I use both, but that’s because am a Tech writer.