At the beginning of 2019, Nokia announced its comeback to the consumer market by launching a Nokia WiFi Beacon simply called Beacon 3. This device is an extender of your existing WiFi mesh. Actually, it can even replace your WiFi router that the operator has provided and create a more stable and smart home WiFi network. Nokia launched two beacons, Beacon 3 which is more powerful and has the WiFi capacity up to 3000 Mbps, and affordable Beacon 1 with the WiFI capacity up to 1200 Mbps. Nokia was very kind and has sent us a demo box that came with 3 Beacon 3 inside so we can test the Nokia Mesh feature.
Let’s start with the basic specs of the Nokia Beacon 3:
Dimensions: 160 x 94 mm
Weight: 650 g
Antenna: 3X3 2.4G, 4X4 5G MIMO
Connections: 1x WAN RJ45, 3X LAN RJ45
Price: 1X €97, 2X €195 3x €259
Excellent WiFi stability and speed
Controlled over app
Some devices can’t be connected
Nokia WiFi app is not snappy
A bit pricey
We received the demo box for the reviewers which is different than the box available commercially in the stores. But the Beacons inside were packaged like you’d find them in stores. Nokia kept on using the white box that when opened presents the beacon nicely. In the box, you’ll also find a rather bulky power adapter and a flat ethernet cable for RJ-45 connector that matches the color of the beacon. You’ll also find a quick guide that tells you how easy is to connect your Beacon.
The Beacon 3 is a gorgeously designed white cylinder with clean lines that will look great in every apartment or office. At the bottom is black plastic that has perforations for air cooling of the beacon. On the bottom, you’ll find the QR code for quick installation and other info like SSID, WiFi key, model number etc.
Even though it is cylindrical, there is a front and backside of the beacon. At the front, there is a Nokia logo, and at the back, you’ll see a 1 Gigabit Ethernet WAN port, 3 Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, WPS button, power button and a power adaptor jack. The power and WPS button share the size and shape which might be a problem since you could mix them when trying to quickly connect a WiFi device. WPS is the left one when approaching it from the front side.
The top of the beacon is interesting since it has a perforation which serves as an exit point for the hot air and as a notification for the LED light hidden inside. If the connection is bad, or the WPS function is running, you’ll be notified by the change of the color or by blinking of the LED light. Beacon does also look attractive during the night and can serve as a beacon when navigating through your home in the middle of the night.
Nokia managed to create a WiFi that works and that is quite simple to set up. Before you start, you’ll have to download the Nokia WiFi app from Google Play Store or Apple Store, create a Nokia account and scan the QR code on the bottom of your Beacon to enable it. If it doesn’t need a software update, the connection process is done within a few minutes. You just need to follow the instruction on your mobile phone and that’s it. One thing that you will have to do is to create a Nokia WiFi account which you’ll be using for connecting to your network when offline, or connecting to the web interface to see the advanced functions of the Beacon software.
After plugging in the power, you just need to connect your Beacon to the ethernet port of your router with an RJ-45 cable and off you go. In the app you can change the preset password and you are set.
For connecting another beacon, you just scan the QR code by taping the add Beacon option in the Nokia WiFi app. The Beacons will set themselves up so you could start using the enhanced network with ease.
The Nokia WiFi Beacon serves as a WiFi beacon for your home or office but can also create a mesh in case you have two or three of them. It can also serve as a router if you have a preset Ethernet in your office or home. One Beacon 3 is enough to create a stable WiFi on the area of up to 185 m2, but generally, it will be great for larger apartments. My apartment is divided by thick cap walls made out of reinforced concrete, and one beacon provides a stable WiFi in the most distant room. This is something that the router provided by my carrier couldn’t do. Also, thanks to Beacon 3, I finally managed to achieve close to 140 Mbps speed in the home. That happened when I had only my 7.2 connected, and the speed will drop depending on the number of active devices. The maximum number of connected devices is more than 30. Anyway, the router that the operator gave me could deliver close to 90 Mbps over WiFi, and almost full speed when connected over ethernet cable.
The excellent WiFi network stability is there thanks to the MIMO antennas and some clever software that controls the Beacon. Thanks to the software, Beacon can keep your network free of various interference like BT devices, microwave oven…
I find the LED light on top of the Beacon handy, especially during the night when navigating around the living room in a pitch dark during the night. If you are keeping another beacon in your room, Nokia gave the option to turn the LED light off.
The beacon does have numerous options, many of which I don’t even know how to use. But I should mention the basic stuff like a MAC address filter, a speed monitor, guest network more, QoS, Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet (PPPoE) and IP over Ethernet (IPoE), and so on.
One nice thing is a dedicated WPS button that can help you connect quickly with WiFi-enabled devices. This is where I experienced my only problem with a Beacon 3 since it couldn’t connect, or even see, the WiFi signal of my Daikin air conditioning unit.
While one Beacon might serve you well, a mesh of beacons can create a much more stable WiFi network at your home. This is why Nokia is offering the possibility to buy more than one Beacon 3, and the more you get, the cheaper is the price of one unit. Creating a mash is rather simple. In the app quick menu choose the add Beacon and scan the QR code at the bottom of the Beacon, or enter the code manually. Then you’ll have to plug the power cord and turn it on. You can do it before you scan the QR code too. Second Beacon will set itself up automatically and you can connect to your network immediately. If the Beacon is too far away from the first Beacon, then you’ll have to re position it. Check the gallery to see the installation process of the second or third Beacon 3.
It took maybe 5 minutes or less for the beacon to get connected and after it found the best connection, I was able to surf with 130 Mbps of download and 14 Mbps of upload which is cool for the distant Beacon.
Nokia WiFi App
Nokia WiFi app has a nicely designed and rather simple interface, but it takes a long time to connect to the interface, especially if you are checking your Beacon when disconnected from your home WiFi. In the app, you can play with some basic stuff like checking what devices are connected and of what quality is the connection. Funnily, Beacon didn’t recognize Nokia Mobile’s Nokia phones that I connected, so I had to edit their names in the app. Inside the app, you can also create a Family profile for your family members, add guest access, add another beacon or check the account details and change the password.
For more details about the network and Beacons, you have to visit the Nokia WiFi network interface that you open by entering http://192.168.18.1/ in your browser. There you enter your password and you can start tampering with the settings of your WiFi network. The first page gives you an overview of your network, number of connected devices, network topology etc. Those who are experts in the field of WiFi networks will probably be more using this interface to control the beacons.
Nokia WiFi Beacon 3 came to the market relatively late, but the nice form factor, great build and Nokia’s advanced hardware and software are making it stand out in the market. Beacon might be a bit pricey but it isn’t just the brand you are paying. Besides the nice minimalistic design, the beacon is easy to set up, and the app does give you a chance to quickly control the basic functions. The web interface offers you more control both to the beacon and network setup, and those more experienced will be using this one more. I must say that Nokia WiFi Beacon fixed all the WiFi problems that I experienced with the router provided by my operator, and now I enjoy stable internet.
The Beacon 3 is available already at some markets over Amazon for the price of $259 for one (in the US), or €299 for two and €399 for three beacons (in the EU). If your finances are allowing you, definitely buy Beacon 3, you won’t regret it. If it is out of your reach, maybe you can go for Beacon 1 which is more affordable solution.
Thanks Nokia for giving us a chance to review Beacon 3!