BOLT! 4G Mobile Wi-Fi Review

If you're a guy who always follows how technologies advance, then you must know 4G. Yes, the next generation of GSM network (and also CDMA) promises clearer voice quality and significantly faster data transfer. Though that sounds fantastic, the availability of such network is currently limited to a handful of countries. Heck, even the next generation 4G (like LTE-A and 5G) is currently being deployed and developed respectively as we speak.

BOLT! is the first operator to offer
4G network in Indonesia
One of the countries that is currently preparing for 4G network is Indonesia. No offense, but I'm kind of pessimistic, since the 3G networks here suck pretty bad. But it's not that all bad. While telco operators are testing 4G networks in various locations, there's already one new kid on the block offering the sweetness of 4G network. Well, Folks, let me introduce you to BOLT!, a new operator which focuses on delivering 4G data. Unfortunately, it's currently available in select Jakarta regions only. But hey, we know it's coming, right? Better, they're offering devices at a heavily subsidized price, one of which I'm going to review today. Interested? Well, get past the break and wonder no more!

The device I'm going to review

Well Folks, the device in question is BOLT!'s Mobile WiFi device, or known to the international world as ZTE MF90. It originally costs more than $60 (price varies by country and seller), but yesterday I bought one for less than $40. It's a really good deal. One thing you sacrifice for that subsidized price is the BOLT! logo printed on the device's front. But don't worry, you could cover that with stickers and skins if you don't like it.

You might be thinking of getting one with different color, but sadly, this modem is only available in white. But again, what sort of trouble that stickers and skins can't fix?

Okay, moving on. If you're buying this outside Jakarta, then chances are your device is already unlocked. Mine is. What does that mean? Well, unlocked means this device is now compatible with Global GSM SIM cards. Originally, this device was locked; it could only use BOLT!'s own SIM Card. So, if you want to buy one, make sure it's unlocked. Otherwise, you'll only get yourself a worthless piece of technology only usable in Jakarta. You don't want that, do you?

Retail Package

The device's retail box
The device's package itself is already eye-catching. That 10X Faster Speed could really bait any Internet heavy users in my opinion. Anyway, slide the contents of the box, and you'll find a modem with its standard equipment. What's included in the package is a manual book, charging head, USB cable for data transfer and USB Internet Tethering, battery, and the modem, of course. Unsurprisingly, it doesn't include any SIM Card. If you're wondering why, you can answer my question. Does it make sense to include a SIM Card you won't be able to use?

Of course the answer is no. Some sellers might decide to sell the SIM Card separately in Jakarta. Though that doesn't sound right, it's more profitable for them that way, rather than including a useless SIM Card that you probably will never use, unless you're traveling to Jakarta.

Additionally, there's also warranty card included, but since your device has been tampered (read: unlocked), the warranty is already void. Otherwise, your device is still under warranty.

What's inside the retail package

Design

Compared with BlackBerry Q10
The device itself is compact, quite comfortable to hold with white doff finish. The only thing that disturbs me is that the device might be prone to dirt. If you don't want that, then you should get some stickers and skins covering it. Anyway, the device is pretty light, so you don't have to worry about weight. In terms of size, it's a little bit smaller than my BlackBerry Q10. It looks good, too.

The black line on the upper part of the device actually houses 3 colorful LEDs: Battery, Wi-Fi Connectivity, and Signal Strength. More on that later.

As for ports and buttons, this device is very, very minimalist. There's only one Mini USB Port used for charging and USB Internet Tethering (or file transfer if you slip a Micro SD into the device). As for buttons, there are only two. One for power (the big one) and the other for WPS. I'm not really sure how WPS works, but they say that you only need to press this button instead of typing password when a WPS-supported device is trying to connect.

Internals

Empty Back
So, you've known what the device looks like on the outside, but what about the inside? Well, let me give you a spoiler: it looks like a cell phone's internal. You have your standard SIM Card slot and Micro SD card slot beneath the battery. I said standard SIM Card; your brand new Micro and Nano SIM won't work here. Sure, they might, but you're going to have a hard time pulling it off. And yes, if you haven't known already, the battery is removable, and to access both slots, you'll have to remove the battery first. It's safer, but it's not very convenient.

What I like from the SIM Slot is that there's still some space even though you've pushed your SIM to the max. This space will help a lot when you want to pull it off the device (read: change SIM Card). Some cell phones (and modems) I know sacrifice this helpful space for a more compact design. I really appreciate ZTE and the designers to keep this space intact while keeping the design compact.

Below is the photo of the device filled with both SIM Card and Micro SD Card. Take a look at it, and you'll see 'the space' I was talking about.



Device Filled

Usage

All the LEDs turned on
So now we know what the device looks like from both outside and inside. Let's see how it fares up in our everyday life. Frankly, I'm kind of afraid when using tampered devices such as this, since we use it the way it isn't intended to be. But Heck, my fear will just be a fear in the end. One claim from the salesperson was that there hasn't been any single complaint after selling hundreds of these. So, hoping the claim to be true, I'm taking it to a live test. Before you get any hopes up, I should remind you that I won't be testing the speed, since it's heavily dependent on both your position and your SIM Card.

Hold down the power button for a few seconds, and you'll see the green battery LED turn on, followed by Signal Strength, and finally, Wi-Fi Connectivity (pictured on the left). If you read the manual, then each LED has different colors and meanings. I'll explain it in the shortest way I could.

For battery, if it's blinking green, then it's charging. If it's blinking red, then the battery is low and you should charge immediately. If it stays still and colored green, then the battery is OK, and it's turned on. If it's dead... Well, of course it's turned off.

As for Wi-Fi (the blue one in the middle), it only has one color: blue. If it's blinking, then the Wi-Fi network is on. If it stays still, then the WPS is active. If it's dead, your device is either in standby mode, or Wi-Fi is off.

Lastly, for the signal, there are three colors: red, green, and blue. Red means either you're out of service or has no SIM installed. If it's green, you're registered to a 2G/3G network. Unfortunately, there's no telling which network you're in (2G/3G) unless you access the Web Management page, which I'll cover later. Moving on, blue means you're registered to a 4G network. Now, if the Signal LED is blinking, then it means the device is transferring data, otherwise, it's not.

With a battery this big, you shouldn't worry.
If battery life is a concern, then let me assure you that 2,300MAh of battery can keep you connected for more than 5 hours. However, that may vary longer or shorter depending on your signal strength, number of clients connected, and how you surf the Internet. If you're using is it normally on one computer and one tablet / smartphone, then you should be OK for at least 5 hours.

To connect your device to the network, turn on your device and see if the SSID is detected in your device. The SSID for each BOLT! device is different, and you can see both the SSID and Password for your device either on your packaging, or your device (three pictures above, beneath the part I censored). Once it's connected, you should be online.

Okay, so I thought I mentioned Web Management before. I'm going to cover it now. Just like the SmartFren device I reviewed months ago, clients will need to access 192.168.1.1 from their browser in order to access the Web Management Page. If you don't know the password, then you'll only be able to see Network Status (HSPA+, 2G, 3G, etc.), signal strength, number of clients connected, transfer status, SIM Card status, and battery indicator. The default password for administrator is, as always, admin. Okay, now that I've said it, you really should change the device password immediately. Anyway, after logging in, you'll be taken to the page pictured below.

Administrator Page
Being the Administrator, you can see how much data you've used for the session and how long you've been accessing it. Don't mind the Quota since it only works if you're using BOLT. Well, it's an unlocked modem from a certain operator, what do you expect?

Anyway, if you want to change the basics such as SSID, Network Password, and Device Password, you could head to Settings and choose Quick Settings. There, you can change the basic settings for your network. I suggest you don't change any other settings if you don't know what you're doing, since everything already works as it should without tampering any other settings.

Quick Settings Window
One funny thing to note is the SD Card. You're allowed to choose whether to use HTTP Sharing or USB File Sharing for your SD Card. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any way to share your entire SD Card, so I keep the settings to USB File Sharing. USB File Sharing will only enable the SD Card storage when connected to a computer. Think of it as a huge flash drive. Maybe if you Folks know how HTTP Sharing works, say it in the comments below and I'll be glad to update this review.

SD Card Settings Window
Now, one interesting thing to note is that there's a Power Saving Option for this modem, something I either didn't know exist in the Mi-Fi world, or truly unique. Basically, to save power, you can set how wide your network range is going to be: short, medium, or long. Of course without any doubt, short range is the best option for longer battery life, but that depends on you as the user. If you use this device personally, then you really should opt for short range, since it'll be a waste to broadcast your Wi-Fi everywhere. Next, there's the Wi-Fi Sleep Settings. I don't use it, but I presume that this will set your device to standby mode after a set period of time. Anyway, choose the best settings for you based on your usage.

Power Saving Option Window
So, I guess that's all I can write today, and here's my verdict based on my usage thus far:

Pros:

  • Compact design.
  • Power Saver settings.
  • SD Card Slot for additional storage.
  • 4G Connectivity for such low price.
  • Great battery life.

Cons:

  • Plastic doff finish and white color easily attracts dirt.
  • Warranty void on arrival (if you bought unlocked)
Well, I guess that's that. If you want a cheap 4G Mi-Fi modem, this item should be a great choice. However, I heard that BOLT would release another Mi-Fi soon. You could wait, but if you're desperately in need of Mi-Fi modem, then there's nothing wrong in getting one now.

So, I guess that's all, Folks. I hope this review is useful for you. As usual, if you have any questions regarding this modem, then you could ask in the comments below and I'll gladly answer the best I can. So, until we meet again. Thanks for visiting and I hope to see you again :)

Comments

  1. Verily true that you cant able to view and download the file via wifi sharing,but the upload way is there,and the usb file sharing through usb otg on android devices doesnt work.It is also heat very much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I agree.However, the heat really depends on your current signal strength. Probably not a good idea to put it inside your bag while it's on...

      Delete
  2. I bought one ZTE bolt. I have BSNL SIM with 3G connection but signal indicator in the Device shows red indicator. Could some one help if i need to do any configuration please

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Gireesh.

      I'm going to assume that BSNL SIM isn't the SIM your modem is included with. If so, are you sure you bought the unlocked version of this modem?

      If you bought it in Jakarta, there's a great chance that your modem is locked. Unfortunately, unless you unlock the device, it won't work with SIM Card other than BOLT.

      If yours is unlocked, then make sure you have signal in your area. Red signal indicator means either the SIM isn't accepted, or the modem is unable to get any signal. To see further details, you may access 192.168.1.1 from your browser.

      Hope this helps :)

      Delete
  3. Thank you for your Reply.

    I"m using BSNL SIM in India. BSNL is the service provider. Still it is not working. showing Red Signal. What should be done to make it accept the SIM. when I access 192.168.1.1, it shows "No Service", Singal Strength X (crossed), SIM - Valid SIM etc..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is your modem unlocked?

      If it isn't, then you need to use unlocker apps on the Internet. Otherwise, please make sure you have signal coverage. No Service could mean either of these two things: no signal reception or your modem is locked. There's a possibility that your SIM card might be broken, but that's highly unlikely.

      Delete
  4. bagus blog nya
    http://unikmenarik.blogspot.com/2015/06/review-modem-bolt-zte-mf90.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Yudha,
      Thanks ulasannya!
      Blog Anda juga informatif :)

      Delete
  5. Can you recommend Bolt 4G generally? Considering the LTE coverage, speed, and price?

    Just looking for options. I am eyeing to get Telkomsel. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sorry but I live in Surabaya where BOLT hasn't covered yet, so I can't give you any recommendations.

      Telkomsel is great, but the cost is also pretty high, unless you're looking at Halo.

      Delete

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