Sprint MiFi 2200 Review

User Rating: / 4
Tuesday, 09 June 2009

Sprint MiFi 2200 Mobile Hotspot Review

Available now from for FREE after rebate with new 2-year Sprint contract!

Hot on the heels of the Verizon MiFi comes the new Sprint MiFi 2200 Mobile Hotspot:

Sprint MiFi 2200 Mobile Hotspot
The Sprint MiFi has a brushed metal finish on its top lid.

Even though it is only a couple weeks younger, Sprint's version is not just a MiFi with a brushed metal top... Sprint's MiFi has more features than the Verizon MiFi.

Before we get into the details about the differences between the Verizon and Sprint offerings, for those who are still new to the "mobile broadband" technology, we want to restate that the MiFi is the first device sold by cellular carriers that is designed to provide mobile broadband to multiple users at the same time. Before the MiFi, mobile broadband users had to choose between cellular modems like the Sprint U760 that connected to a USB port on a computer and provided internet access only to the computer it was connected to; if you wanted to share that connection with multiple computers you'd have to connect a 3G router. The MiFi takes the cellular radio that normally resides in the USB modem or aircard and built a tiny "cellular router" around it, making for a very portable hotspot. That portability makes the MiFi a great choice for college students, traveling executives, off-site field reps, frequent public transit commuters,... practically anyone who is on the go and needs portable/mobile internet access. Even after having spent quite a bit of time with the MiFi at the ready, its hard to explain just how much simpler life is with such a capable, yet portable hotspot.

Sprint MiFi 2200 and U760
The Sprint MiFi is not much larger than the U760 USB modem.

Of course we know all about "cellular routers" that do what the MiFi does, but none of them are powered by an embedded modem and directly sold by the cellular carrier. None of them are all-in-one devices that fit in the space of several credit cards stacked on top of each other. The MiFi not only goes where other portable routers struggle to fit into, but it does nearly as good a job as the larger routers we've sold for years.

Sprint MiFi 2200 and Cradlepoint PHS300
The Sprint MiFi 2200 is much smaller than the Cradlepoint PHS300

Here are the key features of the Sprint MiFi 2200 Mobile Hotspot:

  • 3.50x 2.32 x 0.35 and weight: 2.05 oz.
  • brushed metal finish (still a plastic lid)
  • "Location Based Services" using internal GPS radio
  • EVDO Rev. A capable embedded modem with "NovaSpeed"
  • Maximum throughput of 3.1Mb/s download and 1.8Mb/s upload
  • Supports up to five computers or other WiFi-enabled devices
  • integrated internal CDMA and Wi-Fi antennas. no external antenna options.
  • Wi-Fi "B" and/or "G" compatibility
  • High level security including WPA2-PSK, WEP and SPI Firewall
  • Advanced power management. Settings for both A/C operation and Battery operation
  • Manual PRL and Firmware updates
  • User-replaceable Lithium-Ion battery provides up to four hours of run time and 40 hours standby.
  • Works with Mac/Windows/Linux (pretty much anything with WiFi)
  • Works with mobile OS with WiFi -- like cell phones, iPod Touch, Nokia Tablet, Archos, Nintendo DS
  • Ships with A/C adapter. (DC jack is common 5v micro-USB port)

Those of you who have been pondering the Verizon MiFi might have noticed some differences in the Sprint MiFi feature set, but some of you might appreciate us elaborating on those differences. In no particular order, here are the notable differences we've discovered thus far:

The Sprint MiFi does NOT ship with a USB cable or any connection manager software onboard the MiFi.... and its clear that Sprint had NO intention of supporting a tethered MiFi. In fact, their userguide says that Sprint's SmartView connection manager will not work with the MiFi... but that statement may have been written before the most recent release of SmartView because our tests with latest version intended for use with the Novatel U760 USB modem, does indeed allow the Sprint MiFi to be tethered to both Mac and Windows computers (you'll need a micro-USB cable to tether directly to a computer, and it is important to note that WiFi functionality is disabled while you tether!).

The Sprint MiFi activates automatically and requires no software to be installed for activation. Instructions related to activation are included on a printed user guide, and 3GStore provides an additional tipsheet for its customers that helps explain the activation process when you order your MiFi through The Verizon MiFi requires installation of VZAccess manager software in order to activate.

The Sprint MiFi enables the GPS functionality and allows for Sprint's "Location Based Services" that will plot onto a Google map the restaurants/banks/shopping/gas/etc that are near by. Verizon disables the GPS capabilities of the MiFi!

Sprint provides advanced battery management via web admin, allowing a user to specify different settings when the MiFi is plugged in or on battery power. Verizon's settings apply whether or not it is charging.

Sprint's web admin user interface does NOT provide a way to see the cellular modem's signal as "RSSI". Sprint's admin does show signal strength bars, but we've never considered bars to be the best way to judge signal strength. RSSI is a far more useful signal indication and the Verizon MiFi does have a way to get to the RSSI reading.

Sprint MiFi's admin allows for a manual PRL (preferred roaming list) or router firmware update. The Verizon MiFi web admin doesn't list any similar functionality but PRL updates are probably possible via VZAccess manager.

Like all the cellular routers we sell, the MiFi also has audiences it is not well suited to. Its limited WiFi range, lack of an ethernet port, and lack of a cellular antenna port will make it a bad choice for certain applications... and while the MiFi admin is amazing for such a tiny device, it lacks some of the more technical admin options needed for some enterprise or commercial applications. If you aren't sure the MiFi will do what you need it to, make sure to discuss your application with the Mobile Broadband experts at

What We Like About the Sprint MiFi 2200 Mobile Hotspot

  • Price. The carrier's subsidy on a 2yr contract makes it very affordable.
  • Portability. The built in battery allows 4hrs runtime, and 40hrs standy (3Gstore also has an extended battery available that gives you up to 10 ADDITIONAL hours of runtime or 100 hours on standby!).
  • Security. For such a tiny router, it still has great security options.
  • Coolness. Whoever flashes one of these in public whilst surfing, is going to be cool.

What We Dislike About the MiFi 2200

  • No cellular antenna jack. Mobile users WILL encounter weak signal as they travel and the only way to improve that signal is with a wireless amplifier (for signal boosting options for the MiFi, check out this EVDOinfo Tip of the Week).
  • No WiFi antenna jack/Limited WiFi range. 30ft is fine if you're in a vehicle, dorm room, or hotel room, but you may need to carry the MiFi around in a house or large office to stay connected.
  • No ethernet port. If you've got equipment at home that requires ethernet connectivity, you will not be able to directly connect them to the MiFi.
  • Tethering a MiFi to computer via USB turns off the WiFi. We're sure this is because of limited USB output power.
  • Max of 5 WiFi Clients. That sounds like a lot, unless your a family with laptops, desktops, an iPod Touch, a Wii and a TiVo... etc.
  • Embedded 3G module, locked to one carrier. What happens when 4G comes out? What happens if customer changes carrier? You need a new device.
  • Missing some advanced web admin features. As Cradlepoint-fanboys, we've come to expect certain features in a router, and the MiFi falls short.

The Sprint MiFi 2200 is available at for just $59.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate with a new two-year contract for $59.99/mo (5GB allowance with $50/GB overage).

A few other notes about the Sprint MiFi 2200:

As we mentioned in our earlier review of the Verizon MiFi , we're certain that owners of an iPod Touch will really get a kick out of their MiFi as it allows them to use a VOIP app like Skype or TruPhone and end up with a pseudo "EVDO iPhone". iPhone owners can also benefit from a MiFi if they are frustrated by AT&T's lack of true high-speed 3G data coverage!

Sprint MiFi 2200 and iPod Touch
Sprint's MiFi 2200 is a great addition to the Apple iPod Touch

The MiFi is definitely geared towards mobile users, but the four hours of battery life the built-in battery provides may not be enough for some applications. To make the MiFi even MORE mobile, 3Gstore offers an extended battery for just $49.95 that adds up to 10 hours of usage time, as well as a cigarette lighter adapter that allows you to power up your MiFi while you're on the go.


sprint mifi with extended batter
The External Battery Pack for MiFi 2200 adds up to 10 hours of usage time to your MiFi's battery life!

Finally, a lot of customers have been wondering about the difference between the new MiFi and the Cradlepoint PHS300, which we've been selling for quite a while now. They both accomplish the same essential goal - sharing an EVDO connection with multiple clients via a battery-powered device - but they certainly aren't identical. To read more about the differences between the two and help you decide which mobile option is best for YOU, check out this article: MiFi vs Cradlepoint PHS300.


sprint mifi vs phs300
Top: the Sprint MiFi 2200. Bottom: The Cradlepoint PHS300 with Sprint U760

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 31 August 2010 )
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