Mi WiFi Extender Pro Review
A while back, I wrote a review of the Mi WiFi Extender (Gen 2). Today, I am back with another WiFi extender review, also by Xiaomi, but this time round it is the Mi WiFi Extender Pro.
At only ¥79, Mi WiFi Extender Pro is more affordable than most 300Mbps WiFi Extenders in the market, but slightly costlier than its predecessor, the ¥49 Mi WiFi extender 2. How does the Mi WiFi Extender Pro perform? Is the extra ¥30 justified?
New Design, New Purpose
Unlike previous versions of the Mi WiFi Extender that plugs into a USB port, the Mi WiFi Extender Pro uses Type A power socket. You can no longer use it with power banks, but for those living in China or any country that uses Type A socket, this is a lot more convenient.
To accommodate the Type A plug, the form factor has been changed as well. Instead of a really slim and portable stick, you now get a small square with 2 antennas on the sides. A notification light sits on the front, right below the Mi logo.
The reset button has been shifted to the bottom, a poor design choice in my opinion. Blindly poking a SIM removal pin into the hole while the device is plugged in is a painful process. This could have been avoided if the hole was located on the front.
While the form factor has changed, the style of the product's design has not. The entire device housing is made of matte black plastic. Just by looking at the Mi WiFi Extender Pro, you can tell that it is a Xiaomi product. Simple yet elegant!
The Mi WiFi Extender Pro is less portable than its predecessors. The Mi WiFi Extender 2 could slip into the pockets of my bags really easily, but the same cannot be said with the Pro. If you want to bring the extender everywhere you go, get the Mi WiFi Extender 2.
App & Setup - Simple to Use
Setting up the Mi WiFi Extender Pro is the same process as on previous Mi WiFi Extenders. Simply plug it in, download the Mi Home app and look for "WiFi Extender Pro" in the device list. You will be asked to connect to the extender's WiFi network, Then, leave it to do its thing.
Once setup it complete, the indicator light will turn from flashing yellow to solid blue. If it doesn't, it means setup had failed and you have to repeat the process again. Note that the Pro does not support 5GHz WiFi, so the setup process will fail if you try that. Once connected, it will remain paired to your home's WiFi network, even after you unplug it. To change the WiFi network, long press the reset button with a pin and the light should turn back to yellow, signalling that it is ready for setup again.
There are multiple things you can do in the app. You can enable WiFi roaming, which lets you use the same network name as the original WiFi network, allowing for a seamless transition between the router and extender network when you are moving around the house.
Next, you can change the extender's WiFi network name and password from the app. Also, you can check which devices are connected to the extender. There are a couple of more features available in the app, but I will not be covering them here. WiFi Speed - Good, But Nothing Extraordinary
Just like the Mi WiFi Extender 2, the Mi WiFi Extender Pro does not support 5GHz WiFi, despite the "pro" in the name. This is to expected at this price point. Similar WiFi extenders are priced at S$30 at challenger, so we are getting a really good deal here.
Do not get shocked if you only get 20-30Mbps download/upload. No, Xiaomi did not lie, the Mi WiFi Extender Pro does support 300Mbps WiFi. The issue lies with limitations of 2.4GHz WiFi. I found a really good article online that explains this and you can read it here.
The bottleneck is the speed of 2.4GHz WiFi from your router; theoretically, a WiFi extender can reach speeds up to half of that. And indeed, we get pretty close to half on the Mi WiFi Extender Pro. For this test, I had it plugged right outside my room. On a regular weekday night, the my router's 2.4GHz WiFi gets me upload/download speed of 50Mbps max. That decreases to under 10Mbps when I am in my room. With the Pro, I am able to get approximately 20Mbps from my room, a pretty significant improvement.
(Room speed, no extender)
(Room speed, with Mi WiFi Extender Pro)
If you already have a Mi WiFi Extender 2 and are looking to boost your WiFi speeds with the Mi WiFi Extender Pro, do not do it. There is little difference between the two WiFi extender when it comes to speed. From my testing, there is no difference in the range either. So What Are The Differences?
So why are you paying ¥30 more for the Mi WiFi Extender Pro when there isn't a difference in speed or range? Other than the new design, there must be a reason for the price difference. Here is what you are paying for:
The Pro is capable of automatic updates, without the need of the app. Doesn't sound like much, but think of it this way: If updates are not automatic, how likely would you check for them? If you are a security freak, then you will love this feature.
Next, the Pro can connect up to 64 devices at a time according to Xiaomi, up from the 16 devices on the original Mi WiFi Extender. However, Xiaomi only recommends connecting up to 24 devices. As I do not have that many devices, I am unable to test if it is true.
But how many people will have that many devices lying around the house? Conclusion - Should You Get One?
Now, the answer to the question you have been waiting for. Should you get the Mi WiFi Extender Pro? Sadly, my answer is no. If you need an affordable WiFi extender, the regular Mi WiFi Extender 2 at ¥49 offers greater bang-for-the-buck.
Do not get me wrong. The Mi WiFi Extender Pro's price tag is pretty enticing for a 802.11n WiFi extenders. But I am just not convinced that it is a better option than the regular Mi WiFi Extender 2 - the new features are just not compelling enough.