The pandemic and teleworking have strained the need for stronger and faster connections to the extreme, exposing the seams of battered setups. With the Honor Router 3 you can reinforce the weak points of your WiFi network for very little money.
The problems with home Wi-Fi networks are not an invention of 2020, home connection networks before names like Zoom, Meet or Skype became popular among people of all ages and professional or social strata.
The Huawei routers take some time positioning itself as a very interesting network products to improve the coverage and capacity of domestic WiFi networks . Honor has just become independent from Huawei and one of the first movements of its new stage has been to overtake its former alma mater on the right with a very aggressive offer in the price of its routers .
Honor has the Router 3 for sale for $178.98, and for that price I have not been able to resist the temptation to integrate it into my home network to improve coverage and stability . Will it meet as a good, nice or cheap router? Let’s find out what this router offers us.
- WiFi 6 and Mesh
- Easy to configure app
- Limited features
- Antenna position
- Only two routers in Mesh
- Non-symmetrical WiFi signal
|Dimensions and weight||41mm x 242mm x 152mm | 379 grams|
|Wireless network||802.11ax / ac / n / a | Up to 3,000 Mbps (574 Mbps in 2.4 GHz and 2,402 in 5 GHz)|
|Physical connection||10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet WAN | 3 x 10/100/1000 Mbps LAN|
|Processor||Hi5651L CPU | 1.2GHz Dual-Core|
|Buttons||WPS pairing button | Reinstatement|
|LED indicator||Yes, state|
|software||Huawei AI Life | Router web|
|Feeding||12 V 2 A | 24 W|
|Security||TrustZone | Anti brute force algorithm | WPA3 | Firewall | DMZ | PAP / CHAP | Protection against DoS attacks|
|Price||$178.98 (22.90 offer)|
Why do I need another router if I already have my operator’s?
Many users do not even know that they can use a different router than the one provided by the carrier . But why would I want to complicate my life with such an unexciting topic as networking hardware?
The reasons are several, but the main reason why you would want to buy a third-party router is to improve transmission power. In this way, the WiFi signal would reach those corners of the house where videos do not load, and optimize the management of connected devices so that watching a Netflix series on TV does not affect the online games of the console or the online meetings of the rest of the family.
With few exceptions, the routers installed by the operators are basic models that cover the basic needs of homes. But these routers have to deal with scenarios for which they are not best suited.
The first is the architecture of your house and the distribution of the rooms. If you are lucky enough that your house has a square layout and the router has been installed in the center of the house, congratulations. You will enjoy good coverage and speed throughout your home. Unfortunately this is not the norm.
Murphy’s Law will make the router and the devices that need connection are at the opposite ends of the house giving all kinds of problems such as cuts in video calls, slow navigation or lag in games because the WiFi signal does not reach them with the sufficient power.
Another reason for leaving the management of the WiFi network to a router with WiFi 6 technology is the improvement in the management of connected devices, preventing the network from being saturated when several family members are connected at the same time.
The proliferation of Internet of things and connected home devices has also contributed to the seams of home Wi-Fi networks, contributing greatly to this saturation.
Due to its benefits, and especially for the 22.90 euros that it currently costs, the Honor Router 3 is presented as an indisputable option to improve your home WiFi network .
Compact, discreet and with all the basics
Just take the Honor Router 3 out of its box to realize its incredible resemblance to Huawei’s routers, at least in its exterior design.
It stands out for its small size, with 242 x 152 x 41 mm and a minimalist appearance enhanced by a snowy matte white color and with a very pleasant touch.
Unlike the routers of yesteryear, more like an alien ship than a human-made device, the Honor has been designed to fit anywhere in the house in a sober and elegant way. No fanfare or flickering lights.
The most striking element are its four antennas that can be deployed at 90º, but do not allow it to rotate laterally. In one of these antennas the inscription Wifi 6 Plus stands out, one of the star features that makes this router so interesting at just $178.
The top face, the most visible of this router, stands out for its straight edges and rounded corners that, seen from above, create the optical effect of being thinner than it really is.
The name of the brand does not go unnoticed on the front with a glossy white finish and shares the limelight with the only button located in the center of this face.
It is the HiLink button that allows you to synchronize the router with other devices to create a mesh WiFi network (WiFi Mesh) with the press of a button or connect Honor and Huawei devices to the router without entering the password thanks to the HiLink technology developed by Huawei.
Instead of opting for the usual set of flashing lights, Router 3 only has one LED on the leading edge that changes color or flashes depending on the status of the router. If we go to the back, we continue with the trend towards minimalism applied to connectors.
Here we find the power adapter connector followed by a WAN connector. This connector is responsible for connecting Router 3 with your operator’s router with a network cable that is included with the router.
Next to it are three LAN ports with Gigabit speed (1,000 Mbps) that allow computers, NAS units and other devices to be connected to the router with a network cable. Lastly, there is the reset button.
We would have liked to find an off button like the one on Huawei routers so as not to have to disconnect it directly from the cable, but it is not a decisive factor either since you can also do it from the control app.
We also did not find any groove or method to hang it on the wall in an elevated position, which means yes or yes to put it on a piece of furniture. For everything else, it is a router that meets all the basics in terms of connectivity and a compact and modern design that fits anywhere in your home.
Routers are not usually the most intuitive devices to configure due to complex configuration menus full of incomprehensible terms and acronyms.
Luckily, nothing this is what we have found in this router, being configured and ready to use in just a few minutes.
Unlike Huawei’s routers — which we’ve discussed here — NFC connectivity for one-touch setup isn’t available on this model, but it’s not much more complicated either.
Router 3 does not generate two visible and differentiated networks for the 2.4 Ghz and 5 GHz bands, as routers with Wi-Fi 5 usually do. Instead, a single Wi-Fi network is generated for all devices , and the router will move them around to the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz band according to the traffic needs and connection speed at all times.
Honor Router 3 as a substitute for the attendant router
The Honor Router 3 is designed to be connected in “Bridge” mode , or what is the same, it connects to your operator’s router through the WAN port and Router 3 manages the WiFi network and local traffic in your home leaving the last section of the Internet connection to the operator’s router.
When you turn on the router it generates a new private WiFi network. Simply connect to it from your smartphone, open the AI Life app and let the app detect it.
Then you just have to follow the instructions and enter a name and password for the new WiFi network in your home and you will be able to turn off the inefficient WiFi of your operator’s router – something highly recommended to prevent the WiFi channels from being saturated – and keep only the wireless network that Router 3 broadcasts.
The WiFi 6 standard is backward compatible with older devices, so you can continue to use your devices as you did to date, and benefit from improvements in connection management.
Despite this backward compatibility, some WiFi 5 devices – especially those equipped with Intel network cards or with very specific drivers – may experience performance loss issues or problems connecting to the WiFi network.
To avoid this , Honor Router 3 offers as an option to create a second WiFi 5 network in “compatibility mode” to offer more stable performance on certain WiFi 5 devices.
My experience with this mode has not changed much compared to what I already had with the operator’s router since, luckily, the Movistar HGU router that I use is the exception that confirms the rule in the operator’s routers.
The network speed tests do not yield very different values when using one’s WiFi or obtaining the maximum contracted speed at the foot of the router, and experiencing speed losses the further we go from the router.
However, this does not mean that, when compared to other routers that are older or not as optimized as Movistar’s, the WiFi signal improves considerably in terms of power and speed.
Configure Honor Router 3 with WiFi Mesh
Another connectivity option is to synchronize two Honor routers that are compatible with WiFi Mesh technology and install each of these devices at different points or on different floors of your house, improving WiFi coverage.
The WiFi networks Mesh or mesh are especially convenient because each router, besides acting as repeaters WiFi network, are able to detect the position of the devices connected to the network to improve connectivity.
This allows them to automatically connect the devices to the access point that offers the best WiFi coverage at all times without the user having to do anything at all.
The method of synchronizing two routers to work together in a mesh WiFi architecture couldn’t be easier. After setting up the network on the first router, simply plug in a second router near the first, press the center button of AI Life and the link is automatically established.
Now the second router can connect elsewhere in your home to expand WiFi coverage and use the LAN ports to connect wired devices in other rooms. The Honor Router 3 is one of the cheapest routers on the market that allows you to create a mesh network, which further increases its interest.
By configuring it as a WiFi Mesh system, the experience has improved significantly, but not as much as we expected. In the measurements at the foot of the router, the results reach the maximum of the contracted power. The big difference is found when we move away from the first router (the one that is connected to the operator’s router) and the second router comes into action.
In our tests we have installed the second router about 15 meters from the first with two rooms in between, one of them with the aggravation of being the kitchen, with the interferences that this entails. Due to the appliances and construction materials used, kitchens become one of the worst enemies for WiFi signals.
In this case, the speed values have doubled in the worst case compared to the speed obtained with the operator’s router, but the increase has not been symmetrical. Inexplicably the download speed has always been well above the upload speed.
This data is striking because that remarkable difference between the upload and download speed only occurs when the device is connected by WiFi to the second router.
On the other hand, when connecting the device through a network cable to this second router, this difference between the two values is considerably reduced, being more symmetrical and close to the maximum of the contracted speed.
Use the Honor Router 3 as a WiFi extender for the carrier router
The third mode of use that Honor Router 3 allows is as an operator’s network extender. In other words, the router is limited to receiving the WiFi signal emitted by your operator’s router and “bounces” it, expanding the initial coverage area.
This mode has some important limitations since it forces the router to be located within the area with good coverage of the operator’s router. In this case, its ability to expand WiFi coverage and maintain speed depends largely on the router you already have and the improvements provided by the WiFi 6 standard are not taken advantage of, avoiding network saturation.
The speed measurements in extender mode have left us intermediate results between those that we obtained by installing only a router connected directly to the operator, and those that the WiFi Mesh configuration left us.
That is, the stability of the coverage and the speed is improved somewhat, but not as much as it does when configuring two Honor routers as WiFi Mesh.
AI Life, Honor puts all control of your network in the palm of your hand
One of the things that I liked the most about the Honor Router 3 is that the user chooses the degree of complexity they want to assume.
As we have already mentioned in the previous section, for the initial start-up, Honor uses Huawei’s AI Life app that allows you to take control of the router’s functions. This app offers everything you need for those who don’t want to worry about settings they don’t understand, leaving the router to take care of the rest.
In our opinion, one of the positive points of AI Life is that if the user wants to customize the router configuration options a bit more, they can do so without falling into the labyrinthine menus typical of routers.
The information shown by the app is very clear and it is enough to access the router’s home page to see at a glance the status of the connection, connection speeds, the number of connected devices and quick accesses to optimize the WiFi network, Integrated parental control or guest network settings.
We liked that functions so basic for the good performance of the WiFi network such as changing the broadcast channel is done almost automatically, instead of complicating navigating through complicated menus, something that most users would avoid.
From the main screen of the app you can access more complete menus from which to change settings such as the name or password of the WiFi network or establish an automatic switch-off and switch-on schedule for the router.
Honor Router 3 also maintains web configuration menus for more “pro” users through the router’s IP (192.168.3.1). Here we do find advanced functions such as speed limitation for certain devices, port mapping, etc.
However, even when faced with these advanced menus, the Honor router manages to maintain a simple to use design with well-detailed instructions.
Improving your WiFi network has never been so easy
We reached the end of this experience with the Honor Router 3 and our feelings about this router could not be better. It is true that it is not the best router on the market and we have found some drawbacks, but the pros have outweighed the cons, so it will hardly be a wrong purchase.
One of the strengths of this Honor router is its simplicity when configuring it and how well the adjustment levels have been designed to adapt them to the knowledge and needs of the users.
The Router 3 allows you to scale functions and complexity that goes from the semi-automatic connection and adjustment buttons that appear at the beginning, through the AI Life configuration menus, and up to the advanced menus of the web interface that already allow more complex configurations like opening ports, etc.
We also liked the ease of connecting Huawei and Honor mobile phones and devices with the press of a button, and we would have liked that HiLink connection system to be extended to other devices and even improved with an NFC connection.
On the negative side of the balance we find two main points related to the Mesh system. The first of these is that the WiFi Mesh configuration is limited to only two units, thus limiting the size of the Mesh network that can be created.
On the other hand we have the sharp drop in speed in the second router in Mesh mode and the lack of symmetry in the upload and download rates when connected by WiFi.
As we say, it is not a perfect router and surely more expert users will prefer other more complete routers. However, there is seldom the opportunity to improve the speed and coverage of the home WiFi network for such a low price thanks to the $178 that each Honor Router 3 costs.
We have no doubt that, whether you use it as a simple way to improve the strength of the WiFi signal of your operator’s router, or if you mount them in WiFi Mesh mode and even in extender mode, the Honor Router 3 will be an investment you will not regret it.