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Should I Upgrade my AirCard?: AT&T 754s Vs. AT&T 770s

Back to Blog  •  Posted on December 30, 2014 by admin


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In 2013, US vendor Sierra Wireless released a new 4G LTE mobile hotspot called the 770s Air Card. AT&T Branded this device as the Unite. Only a few years before, Sierra Wireless had released a mobile hotspot specifically for AT&T called the 754s Elevate. As always, the next generation of any technology begs the question: “Should I upgrade?” Lets take a look at the specifics.

Chipset

The 770s incorporates dual-chipset technology. Specifically, the device uses the Qualcomm MDM9215 and WTR1605L. While this, on the surface, appears to be an upgrade over the 754s Qualcomm MDM9200, it is not. The MDM9215 is within the same series as the MDM9200 and utilizes the same technology. The added, smaller, WTR1605L does help improve the overall performance, when multiple users are connected, but ultimately the difference is negligible.

Network Bands

Both devices function on the AT&T LTE 700MHz (Band 17) / AWS (Band 4) network spectrums. And, as mentioned above, the devices do not differ that much on available bandwidth, so performance on 4G LTE should be nearly identical.

However, they do differ on the 3G Band. The 770s supports HSPA/HSPA+ 850/1900 MHz (AT&T’s 3.5G technology), while the 754s Elevate runs off the older UMTS/WCDMA 850/900/2100 MHz spectrum. While speed differences will be negligible, the accessibility of the AT&T 3G Network may vary greatly depending on your location. In turn, the performance of the device will suffer depending on the networks available.

Finally, the 770s works on the 2G GPRS/EDGE 850/1900 MHz band, while the 754s Elevate runs on the traditional Quad-Band Networks. This shouldn’t matter much though; as AT&T has begun the process of re-allocating it’s 2G Spectrum.

Design

Here is where we see the real difference between the two devices. The 754s is simple. It has an LCD screen that displays information; antenna ports as needed, and is rubberized to limit wear and tear. The 770s is a completely different animal.

The design team at Sierra Wireless really swung for the fences on this device, and I suppose they had to, as the inside of the devices are nearly identical. The 770s Unite has a touch screen, form fitted auxiliary inputs, a sleek white design, and all the creature comforts you would expect from a 4th generation hotspot for AT&T.

Conclusions

Because none of the networks really changed dramatically since the launch of 4G LTE, the hotspots of this generation had no need to either. Aside from an odd 3G-network choice, most likely geared towards the device working better in doors, (HSPA+ is known to have a faster UL/DL speed inside when compared to UMTS), the devices technical specifications are nearly identical.

And, while the 770s Unite brings some cool new design features to the table, there is nothing ground breaking about this device.

If you already own a 754s, and you are having trouble with the AT&T network in rural areas, the 770s may be your solution. But, for the city dwellers, the upgrade is not worth the expense, as the 4G LTE network functions at about the same rate on both devices.

If you are new to AT&T, you might as well go for the 770s Elevate as the device now comes free with activation. However, an even newer device, the 781s Unit Pro was just launched promising an even larger package of upgrades over the last generation. This includes, most importantly, an extended battery that doubles the life of the device. The extended battery might be the best reason to buy a new device, and it is curious why this was not done with the 770s.

In any event, the 770s and 754s are a lot like a Mercedes and Honda Civic with the same engine under the hood. If your looking for a hotspot that screams “Look at my hotspot” the 770s might be the one for you. But, if all you need is functionality at a reduced price, check out the 754s.