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Sprint MiFi 8000 Review: A Cool Hotspot for a Price

The Sprint MiFi 8000 has an appropriate size for a mobile hotspot. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

The MiFi 8000 is the Sprint version of Verizon’s MiFi 8800L that came out late last year — both come from inseego, formerly Novatel. It, too, is likely Sprint’s last 4G hotspot, due to the availability of 5G.

Considering the slow roll-out of 5G, though, the MiFi 8000 still makes sense. In my testing, it had excellent cellular speeds — at least in the San Francisco Bay Area –, and decent battery life. The well-thought-out design and generous feature set don’t hurt, either. 

If you’re within Sprint’s cellular coverage and looking for a fast mobile Internet solution, the MiFi 8000 is worth considering even at its hefty price of $240 (or installments of $10/month or 24 months). By the way, new customers might get some deals and pay less.

Sprint MiFi 8000 Mobile Hotspot

7.8

Performance

7.5/10

Features

8.0/10

Design and Setup

8.5/10

Value

7.0/10

Pros

  • Well-thought-out design
  • Fast cellular speeds
  • Lots of features

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Battery life could be better
  • Some features are just gimmicks
  • Locked to Sprint

Sprint MiFi 8000: Familiar design

The MiFi 8000 shares the same shape as the MiFi 800L. Fitting in one’s palm, it’s about the right size for a mobile hotspot, not too big not too small. On one side, it has a USB-C port for charging and tethering when connected to a computer. This port can also be used to charge another device or host a storage device — more on this below.

The hotpot’s underside is also its battery bay cover. Pry it open, and you’ll find a removable 4400mAh Li-Ion battery, the same as one used in the Verizon counterpart. Under the battery, you’ll find a nano Sprint SIM card. The hotpot is locked to Sprint, but it seems you can get it unlocked by contacting the carrier.

On another side, there’s a power on/off button. On top, the hotspot has a 5-line 2.4-inch black and white touchscreen. The screen is virtually the same as that of the MiFi 8800L, but the button is better. It now has an excellent tactile response — you won’t have to fiddle with it to turn the hotspot on or off.

The bright touchscreen, which is also a fingerprint magnet, shows a host of general information of the hotspot, including the Wi-Fi network’s name/password, the data usage, and so on. You can use it to toggle some settings including roaming, alerts, airplane mode, screen time out, etc. It doesn’t have access to more advanced settings, however. For that, you’ll need to use the hotspot’s web user interface.

The hotspot’s USB-C port is for charging (both ways) as well as hosting a storage device. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

MiFi 8000’s specifications

The MiFi 8000 doesn’t support 5G, but it has the latest 4G specs, capable of delivering up to 1Gbps of a cellular connection, per inseego’s claim. In reality, that’s just the ceiling rate. The actual connection speed varies, depending on the carrier and the signal strength.

As for Wi-Fi, the hotspot feature dual-band 2×2 Wi-Fi 5 specs. As a result, it can deliver up to 867 Mbps on the 5GHz band and up to 300 Mbps on the 2.4GHz band, simultaneously. By the way, you can’t use the two bands as two separate Wi-Fi networks, but you can turn either one off to save battery, or into a Guest network. 

Sprint MiFi 8000: Responsive web user interface

You can get to the web UI navigating a connected device’s browser to the hotspot’s default IP address (192.168.1.1), and enter the default password as shown on the screen. Now you’ll get to a quite impressive web interface that has a lot of settings and features to offer.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

Apart from changing the security information — including hiding the Wi-Fi and admin passwords from the touch screen –, there are many other things you can do. For example, you can reserve an IP for a connected client, create a port forwarding scheme, setting up VPN passthrough, and so on.

READ MORE:  Mercku M2 Mesh Router Review: Bare-Minimum Wi-Fi

Like the MiFi 8800L, the MiFi 8000 also has built-in GPS which allows users to view its location via the web interface. Also, with a software driver installed, a computer can get an accurate GPS location via the hotpot’s Wi-Fi.

In all, despite the tiny physical size, the MiFi 8000 has more features and settings than many canned Wi-Fi systems, like the Nokia Beacon 1 or even the Google Wifi.

Some gimmicks

But not all features are realistic. For example, supposedly, you can use the USB-C port to host a storage device to share files to connected clients. While that worked in my testing, the USB thumb drive drained the hotspot’s battery too fast. And since there’s only a USB-C port, you can’t charge the hotspot when it’s hosting another device.

Also, there’s the power bank feature. Yes, technically, you can use the MiFi 8000 to charge another device, like a phone. I tried it with my Pixel 3 XL and got about 4 percent of increased battery on the phone for each 5 percent reduction on the hotspot. So, again, it worked, but I’d never count it as a juice pack considering it has relatively short battery life, even when working by itself.

The Sprint MiFi 8000 has a removable battery and uses a nano-SIM card. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

Comparatively short battery life

The MiFi 8000’s battery is decent but, to my surprise, was shorter than that of the Verizon version — the two are mostly the same. But different cellular networks might require different levels of energy consumption.

In my testing, I was able to get some six and a half hours out of the MiFi 8000, on a full charge, with three continually active connected clients. With lighter usage — just one device with intermittent online activities–, the hotspot now lasted about 11 hours.

By the way, I noticed that when left idle, with no connected clients, hotpot loses about 1 percent of battery per hour. So it doesn’t have a very long standby time unless you turn it off. In return, the hotspot wakes up fast — I didn’t have to use the power button to turn it back on from standby.

Overall, it’s safe to say you can get roughly about one work day — 8 hours — out of the battery with a few clients. Using all 15 clients, however, chances are you will need to plug it in.

Easy charging

And it’s easy to charge the MiFi 8000. You can quickly charge it using the included power adapter which, in my testing, brought the device from empty to full in a couple of hours. You can also charge it via a computer’s USB port. In this case, you have the option to make it work as a tethered modem for that computer, in addition to working as a mobile hotspot. And finally, you can also charge it using any car phone charger, or a power bank. 

Sprint MiFi 8000: Fast cellular performance

I tested the MiFi 8000 in the San Francisco Bay area, and it was fast, ranging from 30 Mbps to 120 Mbps. That was about the same as my experience with the Verizon version. Inseego told me that the hotspot could deliver up to 1Gbps of cellular speed. But there’s no way one can experience that, considering its Wi-Fi’s theoretically caps at 867 Mbps.

But on average, I got between 45 Mbps and 55 Mbps, which is more than fast enough for any application.

By the way, during my testing, the MiFi 8000 became slightly warm after a few minutes of operation and remained that way. It’s not hot enough to cause any concern unless you want to leave it in your pocket — you shouldn’t.

Conclusion

I had a largely positive experience with the Sprint MiFi 8000 during more than a week of testing it, but not an amazing one. The hotspot doesn’t have any new to offer compared with the Verizon version and is significantly more expensive.

In all, the Sprint MiFi 8000 is not a must-have — as a 4G device; it’s not future-proof. But if you’re looking for a mobile solution that can bring fast Internet to up to 15 devices at a time right now, and travel within the coverage of Sprint, it’s a viable option.

Cellular Internet is always tricky since it depends on where you are, but Sprint gives you ten days of free return on the MiFi 8000. So, don’t take my word for it. Try it out before committing to one.

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About the Author: Dong Ngo

Before Dong Knows Tech, I spent some 18 years testing and reviewing gadgets at CNET.com. Technology is my passion and I do know it. | Follow me on Twitter, or Facebook!

6 Comments

  1. Hi Dong,
    I’m wondering if you tried this hotspot as a USB modem on the Synology RT2600ac router. It is not on Synology’s list of supported USB dongles, but maybe it would still work, and be the solution I need for broadband in my rural home.
    Thanks,
    Paul

  2. Have had the MIfi since November2019 was getting acceptable 25+35mPs speed until I did Software download in Feb2020 Now my speeds are half that and I only have 1 device hooked up through USB. Are you kidding me this is a bust , Think I should have spend $30 more per month & got 5G modem. But I am in rural area half of the week 5 miles away from Interstate , didnt want to get bumped down to 3G speeds.. So I settle for this unit.

  3. I just recently got an account with Sprint for a monthly 100GB plan and set up with this device. So far, I’ve been unimpressed with the battery life. So, I have leave it plugged in and when I stream on it, it gets too hot and occasionally powers down… very frustrating.

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