Sprint U301 | 3G/4G Broadband Card Review

Sprint U301
Sprint Broadband Cards & Mobile Hotspots

The Sprint U301 offers up unlimited mobile broadband in 4G coverage areas for $60/month. When the faster 4G network isn’t available, you’ll have the standard 5 GB of data in 3G areas.

At 3.5″ long and 1.7″ wide, it’s about as long as a credit card and just a big more than half as wide. Mac users can rejoice with official support for 10.5 and 10.6 (Snow Leopard). Naturally, support is in place for Vista, XP and Windows 7 users.
C-motech, the contracted makers of the U301 through Franklin Wireless, give a synopsis of the device at Mobile World Congress 2010 in Barcelona, Spain

Stuff You Should Know (Good & Bad)

Design & Aesthetics

The Sprint U301 has a standard USB broadband card build.

With a rotating ‘swivel’ USB connector, it can point horizontally as well as vertically. Also, weighing in at 1.25 ounces, it’s as heavy as 6 quarters and will feel lighter in your pocket than a wallet.
Sprint U301

As I recommend to all MBR Buyer’s Guide readers, definitely insert similar cards vertically to avoid breaking your broadband card like I did.

How I Broke My AirCard

My broadband card was just never the same…

Features

Summary:

  • Sprint 3G EVDO speeds up to 3.1 Mbps
  • Sprint 4G WiMAX speeds up to 10 Mbps
  • Integrated GPS supporting Sprint Navigation, Blackberry Maps, Google Earth when using 3G.
  • Support for Windows® Vista, Windows® XP, Windows® 7 (compatible mode with SSV 2.28)  MAC OS® 10.5 and 10.6 (Snow Leopard)
  • Dimensions: 3.5 inches (h) x 1.27 inches (w) x 0.92 inch (d) (88.9 mm x 32.26 mm x 23.37 mm)
  • Weight: 1.25 ounces (35.44 grams)

Get a bit closer to the Sprint U301 in this unboxing video review.

Like most 3G / 4G hybrid broadband cards, the Sprint U301 is not a feature rich device.

Most USB broadband cards currently ship with microSD slots. You won’t find any here. If it’s any consolation, you do have access to GPS applications for free using the on-board GPS.

While I wouldn’t recommend it for turn-by-turn navigation, it can be pretty handy if your tire blew up on the interstate while going 80 mph and you needed to locate the nearest town to tow your car to.

What’s Speed & Coverage Like?

Sprint 3G / 4G Speed

The Sprint U301 works on both 3G and 4G networks. Here’s a synopsis of what to expect with speed and coverage depending on which network you’re on:

Mobile Broadband Provider Sprint
Speed 5 Stars
Advertised Download Speed 600 Kbps  – 1.4 Mbps (3G)
3 – 6 Mbps (4G)
Real (Tested) Download Speed 600 Kbps – 1.4 Mbps (3G)

3 – 6 Mbps (4G)

Advertised Upload Speed 350 Kbps – 500 Kbps (3G)
1 Mbps (4G)
Real (Tested) Upload Speed 250 Kbps – 425 Kbps (3G)

Up to 1 Mbps (4G)

Coverage 4 Stars
Regional or National? National (3G)
Regional (4G)
Check Coverage

Since Sprint’s 4G network (via Clear) is currently available in select markets, be sure to check out the 4G coverage review to see if you’re covered. If not, you’ll be using their 3G network which limits you to 5 Gigabytes per month.

If you’ll be using Sprint’s 3G network, you’ll definitely want to read “How Much is 5GB & Is It Enough” to avoid $51.20/GB overage charges.

Should You Get It?

Sprint U301

On paper (or webpage rather), the Sprint U301 is a decent deal. Besides replacing your DSL or cable connection, Sprint offers up some scenarios for business use:

  • Real estate agents can conduct virtual property tours.
  • Construction teams using 4G in the field can save valuable time by sharing schematics with engineers online.
  • Insurance companies can speed their claims management through real-time communication with on-site adjusters.
  • Health care professionals can improve their ability to remotely monitor patients.
  • Emergency first responders can rapidly assess and coordinate disaster action with real-time on-site video and audio.
  • Photojournalists can instantly transfer high-resolution images to the newsroom.

As the successor to the Sprint U300, improvements have been made particularly for compatibility with the Mac OS.

So Is It A Keeper?

Sprint U301Yes but…

It makes more sense to get the Sierra Overdrive Mobile Hotspot.

Since it does everything the Sprint U301 does and more (connect wirelessly and easily shares your connection), you might as well pick it up even if you are not in a 4G area.

Also, Sprint will be rolling out 4G over many markets in 2010. As such, there’s a good chance it might become available to you over the course of your 2-year contract.

Think of it as future-proofing.

While I’m not in a 4G market at the moment, I plan to pick one up when I do for the simple fact that I like the convenience of a mobile hotspot that travels with me.

Since life doesn’t stop for anything, why should your internet connection?

Nab the Sprint U301 for free (aff link) or compare it to the other Sprint Broadband Card or Mobile Hotspots here.

Related:

Sierra Overdrive 3G / 4G Mobile Hotspot Review

2010 Sprint Broadband Cards & Mobile Hotspots

2010 Broadband Card Comparison

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3 Comments

  1. peter says:


    unit overheats and data slows to a trickle…enraging the most pious saint…leave sitting on minifan, put between ice packs whatever…works great! sounds corny but the truth, lotta disgruntled folks out there


  2. K. Porter says:


    I’m one of those disgruntled folks. Sprint refuses to acknowledge that there’s a problem with the device and with their sleezy 2 year contract they won’t replace it with another model. Think I should contact a lawyer after paying $60.00 a month a year & a half for half-aXXed service?


  3. Dan Whitcomb says:


    I’m having the same problem, unit heats up and becomes turtle slow, tried three different units,same thing. If you can get all your work done in five to six minutes,it works well


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