The Mi Router 4A Gigabit Edition can be described as central to Xiaomi’s whole smart ecosystem plan. At the Smarter Living 2022 event last month, Xiaomi launched a number of smart devices. While Xiaomi is the leading smartphone brand in India, it wants to be the leading IoT ecosystem brand as well. From home security to smart lighting to computing, Xiaomi has expanded its product lineup far beyond phones.
All these devices need a medium to connect to the internet and Xiaomi wants to be the provider of that medium as well with its Mi Router 4A Gigabit Edition. I have bought a few Mi smart LED bulbs over the years, and last week, I reviewed the Mi 360° Home Security Camera 2K Pro. So, does the Mi Router 4A Gigabit Edition add value to the brand’s IoT ecosystem? That’s what I attempt to answer this review.
Hardware and design
With its devices, Xiaomi has adopted a design language that ranges from being over the top to minimalist at best. The Mi Water Purifier is an excellent example of minimalist design at work while the Mi 11 Ultra (review) seems to be over the top with its expansive camera layout. When it comes to the Mi Router 4A Gigabit Edition, Xiaomi has resorted to the minimalist design that seems to be a common denominator across all of its smart devices.
While routers generally tend to be either utilitarian or gaming-centric in design, the Mi Router 4A Gigabit Edition comes in a matte white finish is designed to blend into your home but not stay invisible.
The router is both clean looking and yet ascertains the class of a device built with elegance in mind. With rounded corners and geometric form, the Mi Router 4A Gigabit Edition strikes a statement that is uncommon among wireless routers.
The top surface has Mi branding and there are two lights that show the system status and the network status. The system status light should be solid blue to confirm it is functioning normally, while the network status light flashing means it is sending or receiving data. There are four high gain antennas, and as far as the interface is concerned, you will find one WAN port and two LAN ports. There is also a power connector and a reset button around the back of the device.
The Mi Router 4A Gigabit Edition comes with a 12V@1A power adapter but there is no ethernet cable bundled with the device. There is also no USB port, which could be a limitation for those looking to connect devices like printers directly to the network.
Performance and features
The Mi Router 4A Gigabit Edition is a dual-band router and therefore flexible than single-band routers. In the case of a single-band router, all the devices are using the same 2.4GHz frequency. As a result, there is a possibility that all the Wi-Fi signals are crossing one another.
With a dual-band router like the Mi Router 4A Gigabit Edition, you can switch between 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies and eliminate the interference between these frequency bands. However, it is important to note that not all devices are compatible with the 5GHz frequency band. For example, the Yi Dome camera installed in my home works only on the 2.4GHz frequency band. For the purpose of this review, I compared the Mi Router 4A Gigabit Edition with TP-Link AC1200 Archer A6 with 4 antennas, as well as a dual-antenna TP-Link TL-WR840N.
The first thing I noticed is how the Mi Router 4A Gigabit Edition and TP-Link AC1200 Archer A6 are able to reach those areas not covered by the TP-Link TL-WR840N. This is mainly because of the four high-gain antennas that allow for maximum transmission of the signal. This is ideal for a medium-sized home but if you live in a bigger home then you would still be better off getting a mesh WiFi system.
During my time using the Mi Router 4A Gigabit Edition for more than two weeks, I never once witnessed signal drop or any such situation when the WiFi signal did not reach me. With an integrated power amplifier and low noise amplifier, the WiFi signal is able to reach even through the walls. Apart from WiFi signal strength, the next important thing about any router is the maximum speed possible.
The Mi Router 4A Gigabit Edition, as the name itself implies, is capable of Gigabit speeds. It is an AC1200 router, which means it supports bandwidth up to 1200Mbps. While support for higher bandwidth is really nice to have, the speed that you get will depend on your ISP (Internet Service Provider). You can’t get 100Mbps with a 50Mbps connection. With Mi Router 4A Gigabit Edition, you are buying a future proof device for when Gigabit speeds become common.
The real benefit of this router becomes apparent when you connect multiple devices at once. Xiaomi says you can connect up to 128 devices to the Mi Router 4A Gigabit Edition. With every device becoming smarter and capable of connecting to the internet, this is another area where you can future-proof yourself. I had two laptops, an iPad, a TV, a couple of Alexa smart speakers, smart bulbs and security cameras connected to the router. They all functioned seamlessly and with the built-in cooling, the router never got too warm or seemed to throttle the bandwidth for smooth functioning.
Router management and MiWiFi app
The Mi Router 4A Gigabit Edition ships with a robust app for managing the router. The first thing I noticed when I switched from my TP-Link router is an indicator on my iPad saying the security is weak. This was because the WiFi encryption was set to Mixed (WPA/WPA2-personal) and changing the encryption to Strong (WPA2-personal) fixed that error. As you can see from the screenshot above, it is extremely easy to change these settings.
Initially, the router configuration shows as two different routers offering 2.4GHz band and 5GHz band connections. However, you can go to this router configuration panel and select the Smart Connect option (as seen above) to allow the router to use a common name and automatically choose between the frequency bands. It is a neat control to have if you don’t want to dabble with WiFi router names and decide for yourself which device will connect to which frequency band.
The MiWiFi web interface management is often shown as “Not Secure”. I reached out to Xiaomi to understand the reason behind this considering security is important for all of us. Xiaomi told me that this is mainly because of the self-signed certificate not accepted by most browsers. It is the case with TP-Link as well and Xiaomi confirmed to me that the connection is safe regardless of what the browser shows when connecting via HTTPS.
In addition to the router management interface, Xiaomi also offers the Mi WiFi app which can be used to check the list of devices connected to your network, add or remove devices and control other settings. It is a clean app with two tabs called Mi Router and Toolbox. The Mi Router tab shows all connected devices and the toolbox allows you to check the firewall, optimise the WiFi connection and even change the name of the router.
The Mi Router 4A Gigabit Edition works really well for homes that are 500 – 1,000 sqft in size. Even with nearly a dozen devices connected at the same time, it didn’t break a sweat. The real excellence of Mi Router 4A Gigabit Edition comes in the form of its ability to allocate frequency bands for devices and maintain a consistent connectivity across the room. However, it is not vastly different from the aforementioned TP-Link Archer A6.
The Archer actually has four Gigabit LAN ports as opposed to two on Mi. It also supports WPA3, which is an updated implementation of WPA2. The Mi Router 4A Gigabit Edition is priced at Rs 2,199 while TP-Link Archer A6 costs Rs 2,499. If you want those additional LAN ports and WPA3 security then it is worth that extra money. Otherwise, the Mi Router 4A Gigabit Edition is a frugal option for most homes that offers a robust ecosystem and delivers seamless connection to devices installed in your home.
Pricebaba’s rating: 8/10
- Affordable price
- Easy to install, configure and maintain
- MU-MIMO is a solid feature in the price point
- 2.4GHz and 5GHz performance is very good
- Lack of USB ports
- Non-removable antennas
- No support for WPA3 encryption