Smart Bro vs PLDT Home WiFi : Which is Better for Online Classes or Work From Home Tasks?

Since last month - August 2020, when online classes of most universities in the Philippines started, I've been receiving numerous inquiries from my young readers as well as their parents about which prepaid internet service from PLDT-Smart they should go with: Smart Bro or PLDT Home WiFi?

Both of these products are great alternatives to wired internet access and they also benefit from Smart Communications' mobile data speeds, which are currently the fastest in the country based on Ookla speed test results. As such, I think they are ideal not only for online learning but also for accomplishing work-from-home tasks on the internet by young professionals - especially those who are on a tight budget - amidst the current pandemic.

In this TechPinas blogpost, I'm going to compare Smart Bro LTE-A Pocket WiFi and PLDT Home WiFi in five aspects. First, in terms of the Device Form Factor and Utility; Second, when it comes to Ease of Use; Third, Internet Speed; Fourth; Variety of Promos, and finally, in terms of Value For Money.

Smart Bro vs PLDT Home WiFi

Device Form Factor and Utility

As you can see in the photo above, there's no question that Smart Bro LTE-A Pocket WiFi is far smaller and more portable compared to PLDT Home WiFi. On top of that, since the Smart Bro device is powered by a rechargeable battery and slips in the pocket, you can use practically anywhere, even when you have to quickly step out of the house to run errands.

That said, since most of us are stuck at home anyway because of the quarantine, I wouldn't consider PLDT Home WiFi's fixed modem form factor a downside. In fact, I actually like the fact that you practically just need to plug it to an electrical outlet to start using it. Also, although PLDT Home WiFi is not as highly portable as Smart Bro Pocket WiFi, you can still change its location by plugging it to a different outlet inside your home or bring it with you to your other house if you hold multiple residences.

Another advantage of PLDT Home WiFi is that it has an ethernet port that you can use for your devices at home that are not WiFi-enabled. The retail package comes with a cable that connects the modem to an internet device like a laptop or desktop. The new Smart Bro LTE-A device is too small to have the same port. As such, if your notebook doesn't support WiFi connectivity, then PLDT Home WiFi would be the wise pick for you.

Design-wise, one major difference between these two is that the Smart Bro LTE-A Pocket WiFi device has a small screen in front which provides the mobile number, battery percentage, number of SMS received, and signal strength. In comparison, the PLDT Home WiFi unit currently only has indicator lights for power, signal strength,

Amazingly, the new Smart Bro LTE-A Pocket WiFi supports up to 10 connected devices while PLDT Home WiFi can provide internet connection to a maximum of five devices. Hence, if your family has many devices at home for Online Classes or Work From Home tasks then Smart Bro LTE-A Pocket WiFi might be the better choice in that regard.

Ease of Use

Both PLDT Home WiFi and Smart Bro LTE-A Pocket WiFi are very easy to use, provided they are already loaded and the user has subscribed to an internet promo.

As I've said above, for PLDT Home WiFi, it's just a matter of plugging it to an electrical outlet to start browsing the internet through it. Likewise, for the Smart Bro LTE-A Pocket WiFi, just make sure it has enough charge, turn it on, and you're good to go. You may also use the Smart Bro pocket WiFi while it is charging.

Both devices share a practically identical prepaid loading process. You can do it through PLDT-Smart partner stores or you may also use Paymaya to directly subscribe to a promo for your PLDT Home WiFi or Smart Bro number. Personally, I think that's one of the many benefits of having a Paymaya account. With it, you won't have to go out of your home and interact with people amidst the pandemic just to sign up for an internet promo.

You may also load up both devices' Smart number through your online banking. However, you'd still have to use applications by Smart or PLDT and the Control Panel to subscribe to a prepaid promo. I've tried it and it's a bit cumbersome.

To access the Control Panel and change your Smart Bro and PLDT WiFi password, just go to 192.168.1.1 on your web browser. The default username and password for Smart Bro is "smartbro". For PLDT Home WiFi, the default user name is either "admin" or "pldtadmin" while the default password is either "1234" or "1234567890". You can change all these once you are inside the control panel.

Both Smart and PLDT have dedicated websites wherein users can check the available load, remaining data, and active promo subscription of your PLDT WiFi or Smart Bro LTE-A Pocket WiFi device. I believe PLDT-Smart also has consumer mobile applications dedicated to this.

All things considered, I would say that in terms of usage, both products are largely the same since they are essentially from one parent company.

Smart Bro vs PLDT Home WiFi

Internet Speed

Both Smart Bro Pocket WiFi and PLDT Home WiFi are powered by Smart's LTE network, which currently delivers the Philippines' fastest mobile internet speeds based on data gathered by Ookla.

However, Smart Bro Pocket WiFi supports LTE Advanced (LTE-A) technology which is - simply put - supposed to be more stable and faster than the lower generation 4G LTE connectivity that my PLDT Home WiFi unit supports. LTE-A is also what allows the new Smart Bro Pocket WiFi to deliver internet connection to more devices as I've mentioned above.

Despite this, however, I noticed in my personal SpeedTest results here in Tondo, Manila that my PLDT Home WiFi unit is no pushover when it comes to bandwidth speeds!

PLDT Home WiFi 2020 SpeedTest Result

As you can see, I get as high as 33.4 Mbps download speed and 5.19 Mbps upload speed from my PLDT Home WiFi. But it can sometimes hit as slow as 15.57 Mbps for downloads and 4.06 Mbps for uploads. The highs and lows are quite drastic, I think.

PLDT Home WiFi 2020 SpeedTest Result

In comparison, I get more consistent high SpeedTest results - specifically for downloads - from Smart Bro LTE and I attribute this to the fact that this device supports LTE Advanced technology. So if stability is very important to you when you're in your online classes or virtual meetings for work, then I guess that's another reason to go with this device.

Smart Bro LTE-A Pocket WiFi

Using my Smart Bro LTE-A connection, I got download speeds of 30.3 Mbps and 25.2 Mbps when I ran the test, which are closer to each other than the results I got using my PLDT Home WiFi connection.

Smart Bro LTE-A Pocket WiFi

Sadly, though, my Smart Bro LTE-A upload SpeedTest results aren't quite as high as what I got from the PLDT Home WiFi, which frankly baffles me. I guess it has something to do with my location or that I'm one of the first to use the unit. I'm not sure.

Just a side note, though, PLDT also recently released an LTE-A version of the PLDT Home WiFi device that connects to more gadgets compared to the plain LTE model. I have yet to try it out but I know that this head-to-head battle would be better if I had that one to compare to my Smart Bro LTE-A Pocket WiFi. Perhaps, I can make another blogpost using that new model in the future. Let's see.

Variety of Promos

As of writing, PLDT has numerous FamLoad promos for PLDT Home WiFi while Smart has GIGA Data Prepaid Promos for Smart Bro LTE-A Pocket WiFi.

PLDT has FamLoad Study, Famload Video, and Famload Video Plus.

On the other hand, Smart has Giga Study, Giga Work, Giga Games, Giga Video, Giga Stories, and even Pro and All-In versions of the said promos. Needless to say, you get a greater variety of prepaid promo options with Smart Bro depending on your needs and preferences when using the internet.

What I noticed when I compared the promos for PLDT Home WiFi and Smart Bro LTE-A Pocket WiFi is that PLDT tends to give users more Open Access data allocation for the same amount of money but for a shorter validity period. Smart gives lower Open Access data allocation with Bigger Data for Specific Apps or Websites that can be consumed within a longer validity period.

For the sake of this comparison, let's find out what you can enjoy for PHP 200 from PLDT Home WiFi and Smart Bro if you're a student.

Sadly, PLDT doesn't have a FamLoad Study promo that you can subscribe to for that amount. However, you can go with PLDT FamLoad Video 199 which gives you 1GB of Youtube per day and 12GB of Open Access Data good for seven days. The total amount of data that you can get from this promo is 19GB but what's nice here is that a huge chunk of that can be used for visiting any website you want or need for school.

With Smart Bro, you can choose Smart Giga Study Pro 199 that gives you 3GB of data per day for Microsoft and Google Apps including Youtube plus 6GB of total Open Access data allocation that can be consumed within 7 days. The maximum amount of data that you can enjoy from this promo is 27GB.

Now, if you're a work-from-home professional, for PHP 200, you can also go with PLDT FamLoad Video 199 or choose Smart Giga Work Plus 199.

Smart Giga Work Plus 199 delivers 6GB of Open Access data and 3GB of data every day for video conferencing apps, Google and Microsoft apps, e-commerce and delivery apps like Grab, Lazada and Shopee, and finally online payment apps including Grab Pay and Paymaya. The promo's validity period is seven days and you can also enjoy a maximum of 27GB data.

Value for Money

The PLDT Home WiFi device that I have in this comparison post sells for only PHP 995 and it already comes with 10GB of Open Access Data valid for seven days upon first use.

On the other hand, the new Smart Bro LTE Advanced Pocket WiFi goes for PHP 1,995 and the Smart 5G SIM card that comes with it gives you 15GB of Open Access Data good for 15 Days or 1GB per day for that promo period.

So which device gives more value for money with extended use? Well, I think it still depends on the kind of internet user you are.

If you're a student or work-at-home professional who enjoys the freedom of visiting numerous websites or opening different applications that are not particularly the most used ones for school or work, then PLDT Home WiFi with all the FamLoad promos that go with it might give you more bang for the buck.

However, if the applications and websites that Smart gives big daily data allocation to in its Giga Promos are exactly the ones you use often for online learning, e-commerce, or work-from-home tasks, then I'm sure you will get more value for your hard-earned money choosing Smart Bro LTE-A Pocket WiFi.

Personally, I suggest that you study all the inclusions in every PLDT FamLoad and Smart Giga Prepaid Data Promos as well as the online activities you favor in figuring out which device is better for you.

Now, if you feel like even the highest data allocation you will get from either PLDT Home WiFi or Smart Bro LTE-A Pocket WiFi won't be enough for you, then perhaps you should just consider getting a wired PLDT Home DSL or PLDT Unlimited Fibr postpaid connection that delivers fast internet connection with no data caps. But I'll save that topic for another TechPinas post.

Alright! That's it for now. I hope you found this Smart Bro vs PLDT Home WiFi comparison post useful and informative. If you want to share your thoughts and opinions about this topic, feel free to leave a comment below. I'm also keen on editing and revising this post if a new idea or opinion pops in my mind or if PLDT-Smart augments their existing promos. Cheers!

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