Recently, after the arrival of WiFi 6 devices in the market, WiFi 6 routers are also releasing. Recently, Huawei router AX3 Pro released at 289 yuan ($41) as Huawei’s first WiFi 6+ router on which today’s review will be done. Previously, we did the review of the first and one of the cheapest WiFi 6 router from Xiaomi which is the Xiaomi router AX3600. Sadly, it didn’t support 160MHz bandwidth and the firmware had a long way to go. However, that’s not the case with Huawei router AX3 Pro, the firmware is excellent along with the frequent updates. The best part is that it supports 160MHz out of the box and is almost half the price of Xiaomi router AX3600.
So, without wasting our precious time let’s move to the Huawei router AX3 Pro review:
Difference between Huawei AX3 vs Huawei AX3 Pro
So, before starting the Huawei router AX3 Pro review, we should completely understand what’s the difference between a WiFi 5 and a WiFi 6 router? And what is WiFi 6+ technology advertised by Huawei?
In comparison to the previous generation of Wi-Fi 5, the biggest improvement of Wi-Fi 6 is to greatly increase the capacity of concurrent devices under multiple antennas. The use of new technologies such as OFDMA and 1024–QAM can greatly reduce the interference between devices under the same antenna and improve transmission efficiency. With MU-MIMO under multiple antennas, the increase in the capacity of concurrent devices is ensured.
The transmission rate and coverage under Wi-Fi 6 have also been improved to a certain extent. The theoretical rate of a single 5G antenna has been increased from 433Mbps to 600.5Mbps, and the range of each data transmission has been increased to 4 times, reducing the packet loss rate. Since the minimum can use only 2MHz bandwidth, the limit of stable transmission distance is also much higher than WiFi 5.
So, no matter which router you go for as long as they support the WiFi 6 module, you will find these features within such routers. However, the problem comes with the firmware and hardware support. Some of the routers either have a poor hardware configuration or a poor firmware which limits the wonders of WiFi 6.
With limited hardware the mentioned devices connected at one time on WiFi 6 router are not achieved, the download and upload rates are not up to the mark, and the stability issues always exist. One example of such a problem is the Archer AX20 router. The same goes for the firmware, if there are no frequent firmware updates to fix the previous problems stability issues and ensure WiFi 6 are enabled, then it’s not a good investment. Such an example is the Xiaomi AIOT router AX3600 which doesn’t support 160MHz bandwidth at the moment.
Now speaking of WiFi 6+, how is it different than WiFi 6? Unlike other products that use Broadcom and Qualcomm’s off-the-shelf platforms, Huawei continues to the self-developed route. A set of Wi-Fi 6+ solutions with the Chinese Lingxiao and Kirin chips as the core are used in Huawei and Honor routers and devices. Huawei has implemented an updated technology private agreement based on WiFi 6, named WiFi 6+. Since it’s a private agreement it must have its own limitations. To get the “+” performance of Huawei WiFi 6+, it must meet the requirements of routers and devices (phones/tablets) which are obviously the Huawei routers and Huawei/Honor devices with WiFi 6+ module.
Compared with the WiFi 6 of the WIFI Alliance, Huawei WiFi 6+ mainly adds two technologies. The first is the long–distance scenario: the maximum range can be increased by 6dB. Wall. Through chip-level collaboration and dynamic narrow bandwidth technology, the power spectral density (PSD) of Huawei WiFi 6 + phones and other devices can be greatly improved. Generally, WiFi 6 routers and phones can only communicate with a minimum bandwidth of 20MHz, while Huawei WiFi 6+ can communicate with a minimum bandwidth of 2MHz. This can improve the signal quality of phones at long distances, up to 6dB, and eliminate the problem of false signals. In the long-distance case, it can achieve the effect of passing through a wall. While the second is the close-range case where the speed is doubled. End-to-end supports 160MHz ultra-wide bandwidth. In close-range scenarios, the speed is twice that of 80MHz.
The Huawei router AX3 Pro comes inside a white-colored box. Since we have the Chinese version with us, the manual and the labeling on the box is in Chinese. On the front, the box marks several highlights of the product such as the Wi-Fi 6, 3000Mbps, one-click networking, and Internet protection. On the lower-left corner is the “HiLink” logo, which means that Huawei AX3 Pro is the part of Huawei’s smart home family.
Opening the lid, we have the first impression of the router. Huawei router AX3 Pro rests in the box with the antennas completely folded and resting on the main body.
Previously, we did the unboxing of one of the biggest routers when we reviewed the Xiaomi AIOT Router AX3600, however, the Huawei AX3 Pro packaging is one of the smallest and in fact the same box size as of its ancestor ‘Huawei router WS5200’. The router is really slim and sometimes it’s hard to believe if a router of this small size can bear the WiFi 6 high-speed networking for long hours. Surely, it can and we have tested it.
A product label is attached to the side of the package to quickly understand the basic parameters of the product. For example, the specific model is WS7200, MAC address, and SN code, and the color is black (there are two colors of the router: black and white).
One thing which is weird is that with the black colored router, we go a white-colored power adapter that doesn’t match with each other. If you can hide the power adapter, then it’s fine. I saw that most of the people got the matching ones, maybe Huawei did this by mistake. There’s the output standard of 24W, 12V / 2A, and the power cord is about 1.5 m long.
Looking at the design of the AX3 Pro, it reminds us of the old WS5200 router from Huawei. It’s literally the same design, an ultra-thin body + four large external antennas, with a bit of molding done. So, why did the Chinese manufacturer do this? A slim design might be against the head dissipation and energy efficiency, however, Huawei does this just to save the extra cost on extra materials and large design. It rather spends money on the antennas. In return, we have one of the cheapest WiFi 6+ router with us.
It occupies a space of 225 mm x 159.2 mm x 39.7 mm and weighs only 387 grams which is quite impressive from a WiFi 6 router.
Moving to the antennas part of this Huawei router AX3 Pro review, the antennas are not removable. They can be moved back and forward without rotating. The folding is around 90-degrees and can be set to any angle between 0 to 90-degrees.
The overall shape of Huawei AX3 Pro is relatively simple, which is regarded as the face of the external antenna routers. The front is a completely flat surface, and at the center is the round Hi key. The purpose of the Hi key is to connect other Huawei Wi-Fi devices with one key that can also be used as a WPS key. Moreover, the Hi name also reminds of the company itself which is Huawei.
Apart from this, the NFC sensor chip is also built in the lower right corner. This has a similar function to the Huawei A2 router which can obtain the network connection via NFC. Of course, the thing is that the phone should be unlocked and NFC is turned on.
At the center of the front side, there’s also a LED indicator. The cyan color indicates normal function, the red color means that the router cannot access the Internet, and if the cyan light flashes, it is in the distribution network.
The bottom has an irregular design, and the sides have inclined cooling holes. The symmetrical design can form an air channel to accelerate heat dissipation. The center has a silicone pad and a product label sticker.
Also Read: Redmi 7 Review – Incredible Battery Life, Same Affordable Price!
On the back, we have the ports distribution. From left to right are the power DC interface, 4 Gigabit adaptive WAN / LAN ports, and finally a reset button. It can be observed that the WAN / LAN port actually made concessions for the antenna layout. Sadly, there’s no LED on the network port and n USB port. The only way to check the network port is via the app or website.
The most beautiful aspect of the router is the four symmetrical 5dB high-gain antennas (two 5GHz and two 2.4 GHz) that match the main chassis design. As previously said, they are neither removable nor rotatable, but foldable to 90-degrees and can be set at any position in-between. This is something rare to see as routers with only a foldable antenna design are able to fix at only two positions.
If you want a router with a hidden antenna design you can also see our Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100 Review.
The most eye-catching thing on the antenna is the “WiFi 6+” logo on the front and back of the fourth antenna. Though it doesn’t suit the minimalistic design of the router, however, looking from the manufacturer side, it’s their first WiFi 6 router and they can showoff with this WiFi 6+ logo.
Heading to the hardware side in this Huawei Router AX3 Pro review, the configuration matches a high-end router. The RAM is 256MB and the ROM is 128MB which is enough to support the 3000Mbps speed and connect up to 128 devices at one time as per WiFi 6 standard. Though, the Xiaomi AIoT router AX3600 has 2x the configuration and can run 256 devices at one time.
Moreover, the Lingxiao quad-core 1.4 GHz CPU is also inferior when compared to the Qualcomm IPQ8071A hexa-core chip of the Xiaomi AX3600. However, the price is also half supporting the hardware of the Huawei AX3 Pro.
Talking about the maximum bandwidth support, we have dual-band concurrency of 2976Mbps, where on 2.4GHz it’s 574Mbps, meanwhile, on 5GHz it’s 2402Mbps. We already explained that 2.4GHz frequency has a wider range but poor speed, however, the 5GHz frequency has incredible speed but a mediocre range. You can know more about the 2.4G and 5G frequencies in our Xiaomi AIoT router AX3600 review.
The speeds are the same as Xiaomi AX3600, but Xiaomi does have the dedicated IoT antenna which is also dual-band, with a speed of 150 Mbps and 433 Mbps, so the total is 3559 Mbps. Since each router supports smart home products of their own brand and sub-brands, the AIoT feature isn’t that impressive. However, if you were to ever connect IoT devices to the router, we would suggest AX3600 because of dedicated antenna and speed for it without promising the overall 2.4G and 5G speed.
Even though there are only four antennas of the Huawei router AX3 Pro, but they are still better than the 6 antennas of the Xiaomi AIoT AX3600 router. It is because of the WiFi 6+ of Huawei compared to the standard WiFi 6.
Anyways, moving to the test, we have selected a 70 meters square house with 6 testing locations. wall thickness of 24 cm along with wooden doors. The broadband is 300Mbps Unicom, China. We have tested the speed and signal strength with two smartphones ‘Phone A with WiFi 6 dual-antenna that supports 160MHz and below’, and ‘a dual-antenna Wi-Fi 6 Phone B that only supports 80MHz and below.
Broadband: Unicom Fiber, China
Phones: Phone A with WiFi 6 160 MHz and Phone B with WiFi 6 80 MHz (both are dual Antenna and 2T2R)
Software: Ookla Speed Test
Here are the results:
According to the results, it is not difficult to find that Huawei AX3 Pro with Lingxiao SoC has good support for two different Wi-Fi 6 phones under Wi-Fi 6, which can cover a complete 70 square meters house.
In the room 5 with poor signal, although the 5G frequency band of the two phones is inferior to the 2.4G frequency band in terms of signal, however, both speed and delay are much better.
With the support of Wi-Fi 6, the wireless transmission rate of the router can be increased by nearly 25%. Taking 5G Wi-Fi as an example, the theoretical transmission rate of a single 5G antenna has been increased from 433 Mbps to 600.5 Mbps.
For the Huawei AX3 Pro with two 5G antennas, the theoretical maximum rate is 1201 Mbps at 80MHz bandwidth; the theoretical maximum rate reaches 2402Mbps at 160MHz bandwidth.
In the case of using 80MHz bandwidth, the phone can achieve 939 Mbps (117.4MB/s) intranet wireless transmission speed, while in the 160MHz bandwidth, the speed is further increased to 1583 Mbps (197.9MB/s).
Under Wi-Fi 6, the interference between its own wireless devices will be reduced, thereby increasing the capacity of the intranet device. The extremely high wireless speed is also convenient for achieving gigabit wireless transmission between intranet devices, thereby eliminating the trouble of many wired connections/wiring cables.
On the other hand, the theoretical rate of 5G under Wi-Fi 6 is higher, which makes the 5G Wi-Fi speeds even faster after a loss in areas with poor signals. This is why, in the No. 5 room with the worst signal in the network speed test, although 5G Wi-Fi has a large signal loss, it still has a low data transmission volume.
People often confuse in selecting either 80 MHz bandwidth or 160 MHz bandwidth. This is one of the first router in which hardware not only supports 180MHz but also the firmware as well, unlike the Xiaomi AX3600 router.
80MHz or 160MHz? At 160MHz, the amount of data transmitted is further increased, compared to 80MHz dual antennas, up to 2 times. In the previous tests, the advantage of 160MHz is very obvious. In the worst case, the network rate is still 173Mbps, which is 1.95 times that of another phone with better signal; and in the intranet test is even more where although there are losses in both bandwidths, the 160MHz bandwidth has soared to 1583Mbps, maintaining a similar signal loss level but still much higher in speed.
But the 160MHz bandwidth naturally has certain trade-offs while being faster. Wider frequency bands have a greater chance of receiving interference, and they are not as directional as short frequency bands at long distances. So in the test, the signal strength and delay performance at a long distance is slightly weaker. And the combination of dual antenna + 160MHz, lack of MU-MIMO addition brought by the number of antennas, Wi-Fi 6 concurrent low latency, and low interference advantage can not be fully exerted when there are multiple devices.
Although there are some shortcomings, the huge advantage of 160MHz in speed cannot be ignored. For the supported devices, 160MHz can effectively increase the performance of a single device significantly under the clean spectrum. When you don’t have many devices, using 160MHz bandwidth is the best choice.
Configuring the router is very simple. You only need to enter the administrator password and Wi-Fi password once, and the configuration process is automatically completed. Whether it is a web page management interface or an APP management interface, the function settings are very complete. In particular, the phone app also provides a market, which includes function plug-ins such as scheduled redialing and intelligent VPN.
For the app, it’s available in multiple languages and is named ‘HiLink‘. As for the Web page (192.168.1.1), since this is a Chinese router, the language is in Chinese. You might use the google translator to help you set it up. Moreover, the region can’t be changed from China. If changed the router will experience disconnection and stability issues. We will have to wait for the global firmware update which will shift the language to English and change the default location.
(August 5, 2020) The Global version of the Huawei AX3 Pro is now available offering English language Firmware and changeable location. Since Huawei router AX3 Pro has OpenWrt, we won’t have to wait that much. Meanwhile, use the app for setting the router.
Compared with other Huawei routers, Huawei AX3 Pro adds a “Wi-Fi 6” custom start function on the web page. It’s on by default. When we encounter some old devices that cannot scan the Wi-Fi 6 signal, we can simply turn it off.
Taking a closer look at the functions of the app, we have:
We really love the speed test feature of the app. Instead of the most speed test software, this one separately measures the network speed between the router and a smartphone as well as a router and the broadband operator. So, it’s easier to check which one is experiencing a slow network.
Since, this router is ultra-narrow, one might think that the heat-dissipation might be really poor. However, that’s not the case. It is slightly hot when it’s working.
The front side only generates slight heat near the Hi-Link button. The temperature at the bottom surface is higher, and because the pads are lower, the heating area is larger.
At present, there is no case of packet loss and disconnection due to temperature, but for safety reasons, it is recommended to set a regular restart when using it, and at the same time, alleviate the bottom when placing it to avoid damage caused by heat accumulation during long hours of work.
Ending the review, obviously, the biggest selling point of Huawei AX3 Pro is that it supports WiFi 6+ technology, but we didn’t expect the price of the router to be 329 Yuan ($46). So what if the hardware is slightly lower than the Xiaomi AX3600, both the hardware and firmware support 160MHz bandwidth. The design is also incredible, suited for those looking to show off their router with the WiFi 6+ logo and a sleek and minimalistic design.
Though the web page is in Chinese and the Global firmware is on the way, The ROM is now in English and the app is in multiple languages and has tons of features. It certainly has more connectivity methods (NFC and Hi-button) when compared to the Xiaomi AX3600 router.
So, we can finally say that if you were to find the best price-to-performance WiFi 6 router, Xiaomi AX3600 is no longer the choice, you can select Huawei router AX3 Pro for almost 2x lesser the price.
Since we have the global version out, I’ll be updating the scores as well.
Update (21/8/2020): Most users of the Global version say that the router has lower signal strength than the Chinese version. This makes us wonder if that is the official Global ROM or not. Huawei also refuses to answer this.
Huawei AX3 Pro in China has a price of around 329 Yuan ($46). For global purchase, it is selling on Aliexpress at a price of around $65 to $95 (excluding the shipping price). If you are not interested in buying the Pro version, the standard version is also here which comes without NFC, has a Dual-core processor instead. Here are the stores selling the router:
Update (6/10/2020): Banggood is selling the router (Chinese version) for an incredible price of $56.99.
We hoped you loved today’s Huawei AX3 Pro router review. Want to know anything about the router? Let us know in the comments.
Images credit: 十八线老编