The Mi-Fi vs USB Internet dongle, which one should you buy

Smile Uganda Mi-Fi

It’s official, the Mi-Fi is the new internet USB dongle or modem. The good-old USB internet modems have outlived their time having pioneered an easy way to access internet for most people in Uganda.

The glorious USB dongle was sleek, light,  portable and most importantly affordable. It didn’t consume lots of power, so it didn’t need a separate external power supply. Instead the dongle was powered by the same USB port it used to connect your computer to the internet. It was the device that Orange Uganda in 2008 used to popularize 3G mobile internet usage in Uganda.

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Read more: The ultimate guide to buying the right Internet USB modem and router for you

But the dongle had its own shortcomings. It would overheat after 3-4 hours.  For me, it was the fact that I could only use it on one computer usually running Windows or Mac OS. This was limiting. Besides running into software issues, I couldn’t share the internet link with other devices such as my smartphone or tablet.

Read more: Vodafone Uganda has the cheapest 4G LTE Internet devices but where are the 3G devices?

That’s where the Mi-Fi comes in. It’s like a USB dongle that shares your internet with other devices or users. The Mi-Fi is also powered by your computers USB port via USB cable or USB charger. But some have battery which makes then run all by themselves for a while. However, the Mi-Fi still is a little more expensive than the USB dongle despite all its advantages. This might discourage lots of USB dongle users from upgrading to the new school.

Updated: USB dongles are now being phased out by most telcos in favor of MiFis. Today’s MiFis are quite cheap and easy to use.

Here’s a summarized comparison of the USB internet dongle vs Mi-Fis

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 USB DongleMi-Fi
Physical featuresLight and sleekA little heavier, but sleek
PoweringUSB poweredUSB/battery powered
Supported userssupports one usersupports at least 5 users
SoftwareRequires software installation and updatesNo software installation and updates needed
Technology2/3/4G LTE2/3/4G LTE
Price rangeFrom Ugx 69,000 From Ugx 149,000

Would you go for the USB dongle or Mi-Fi? Let us know in the comments below.


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2 thoughts on “The Mi-Fi vs USB Internet dongle, which one should you buy

  1. I love my Smile 4G MiFi, so handy. e.g. my laptop, phone and ipad can all access it at the same time, and if I go to meetings where the internet is slow, I can let colleagues can access it (if I feel like sharing my password!) I can even synch my emails when I’m stuck in traffic…
    Smile 4G’s the fastest internet I’ve used in Kampala – I even watch YouTube regularly now (no buffering HOORAY). I heard that Vodaphone’s supposed 4G ‘is not actually 4G’ though?

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