Keep Your Devices Connected With the Best Mobile Hotspots
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Buying Guide: Mobile Hotspot
Whether you’re stuck somewhere with a shaky wireless network or planning to take a lengthy road trip, you need a reliable mobile hotspot so you can stay connected with your family and friends. Even if you have a smartphone with a plan that includes hotspot data, nothing can beat the convenience of having a dedicated device to keep you productive on the go.You rely on your phone for almost all major tasks of your day, including making phone calls, catching up on social media, sending and receiving emails, and keeping up with the latest news. All of which require access to a reliable network connection. While a phone can be used as a hotspot in a pinch, a standalone hotspot solution might make more sense if you’re always out and about. We’ve rated and reviewed the top-rated mobile hotspots of 2023 just for you.
NETGEAR Mobile Hotspot
GlocalMe Mobile Hotspot
Most Secure Connection
Simple Mobile Mobile Hotspot
Easiest to Use
ZTE Mobile Hotspot
Verizon MiFi Mobile Hotspot
What Is a Mobile Hotspot?In situations when Wi-Fi is scarce, a mobile hotspot is generally the ideal choice. Small, sleek devices called mobile hotspots are used to power an independent Wi-Fi access point by connecting to a cellular data provider’s network. You may connect several devices via Wi-Fi with a mobile hotspot, and you can even network them all at once. In simpler words, a mobile hotspot works as a mobile wireless router that uses carrier data. Mobile hotspots require a monthly membership fee, but the majority of wireless companies will give you a discount if you bundle it with your current smartphone data plan.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Mobile Hotspot
Your cellular data network providerYou must purchase a mobile hotspot that is compatible with your existing wireless provider to be able to access the internet. The majority of mobile hotspots are designed to operate with SIM cards. If you use some other network, you’ll need to look for one that’s compatible with your network.
Device supportWhile more costly versions may handle up to 15 active devices simultaneously, the majority of mobile hotspots are only designed to serve about 5 devices at a time. Purchase a mobile hotspot that can support the anticipated number of devices you plan to use with it.
Features to Look for in a Mobile Hotspot
Pay-as-you-goAll major mobile hotspot providers, as well as a good number of smaller ones, provide month-to-month data plans without a contract. You need to link your mobile hotspot to a wireless plan, so if you don’t want to commit to a service agreement, look for a mobile hotspot that works with a pay-as-you-go policy. Each carrier has a different list of devices that are compatible with these plans. If you intend to pay monthly, make sure you get a mobile hotspot that is supported by your carrier.
USB 3.0Instead of using Wi-Fi, some mobile hotspots offer USB connections that you can use to connect your computer. Although having extra-fast bandwidth might be useful, the major advantage of a USB 3.0 connector is how quickly you can charge the hotspot. Choose a mobile hotspot with USB 3.0 charging capability to avoid waiting for hours to juice up your device’s battery.
LTE speedThe quickest mobile networks right now operate at LTE speeds, although previous-generation networks were far slower. If you remember the 3G era, you likely recall how excruciatingly sluggish the internet could be. That’s why we recommend not buying mobile hotspots that only support 3G speeds. Be sure that any hotspot you purchase is compliant with LTE speeds.
The NETGEAR Mobile Hotspot is a small, sleek device in the shape of a square. A touch screen on top of the router gives you direct access to settings and configurations of your network with a few basic options for cellular connection. On the front of the device, there’s a USB Type-C and LAN port that works double duty, allowing you to charge the device and also serving as a USB tethering port.This mobile hotspot has a textured, grippy flat surface that comes with a soft-touch bottom cover that efficiently hides the device’s impressive battery. What’s even better, this device delivers 7x faster speed than 4G devices and can easily connect up to 32 devices at super-fast 1.8Gbps speed, making this mobile hotspot our best overall pick.
- Battery lasts for up to 13 hours
- Includes an intuitive touch screen
- One-button, beginner-friendly operation
- Doesn’t come with the antenna
The GlocalMe Mobile Hotspot boasts a user-friendly and intuitive design that can work with or without a SIM card. This mobile hotspot allows you to quickly access data by paying online. If you choose to use it with a SIM card, we recommend using its own cloud SIM technology. You can rely on this hotspot’s 4G download speed and if you opt to use it without the local SIM, you can buy data through the accompanying app without committing to any contract or paying roaming fees. The best part is that it comes with 1.1GB free global data and 8GB US/CA/MX data, allowing you to stream videos or browse the web uninterrupted.
- Uses security protocol for safe connection
- Works in more than 140 countries
- Built-in battery lasts 13 hours
- Comes with a one-year warranty
- Speed may be a bit slow
The Simple Mobile Prepaid Mobile Hotspot is a no-contract option that allows you to use the internet on the go. You can connect up to 16 devices simultaneously and browse the web at super-fast speeds. The compact size makes it ideal to take with you on outdoor excursions and the colored screen makes setup and configuration a breeze. You can rely on the 4G LTE speed of this mobile hotspot because it allows you to browse and surf the web even when the signals are weak. The built-in battery charges in three hours and boasts up to seven hours of runtime, ensuring that you’re always connected and never miss a moment again.
- Comes with a battery charger
- Touch control panel for easy setup
- Works on data plans from any network
- Low-quality tech support
The ZTE Mobile Hotspot comes unlocked, allowing you to use it with almost any mobile network, but if you want uninterrupted streaming and browsing sessions, we recommend AT&T or T-Mobile. This compact and handy device offers you complete freedom to use Wi-Fi anywhere. Plus, you can connect up to 10 devices with this hotspot at the same time for an uninterrupted browsing session. The device features a dual-band Wi-Fi connection that supports 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, which means you get ultra-fast speed anywhere without any lags. The display of this mobile hotspot comes with four LED indicators for Wi-Fi, battery life, network strength, and messages to give you complete control.
- Offers Wi-Fi-protected access for security
- Compatible with virtually all Wi-Fi-enabled devices
- Data transfer speed of 150 Mbps
- Requires frequent charging
The Verizon MiFi Mobile Hotspot has everything you could ask for. It supports up to 15 Wi-Fi-enabled devices, has a battery time of up to 20 hours, and has a universal charging port to charge other electronic devices on the go. This chunky yet appealing matte-black device weighs only 4.74 ounces and has a touch-enabled color LCD on the front with three navigation keys, allowing you to configure the device and keep up with important information. You can see the signal strength and data used up-front on the hotspot’s home screen, and you can further drill down into the interface to learn more information, such as battery, signals, and connected devices. This mobile hotspot features VPN passthrough, manual DNS, port filtering, and parental control system that allows you to whitelist specific websites by device.
- Block selected devices from connecting
- Secure Wi-Fi settings protect data
- Doubles as a charger for devices
- A bit more expensive than others
People Also Asked
Can my home’s main internet connection work like a mobile hotspot?
Yes, if you’re just connecting a few devices it can work this way, but it’s not a good idea to connect several devices. Mobile hotspots are perfect for emergency or quick Wi-Fi needs, such as when you’re staying at a hotel or working at an airport.
Will my mobile hotspot require a new SIM card?
Perhaps. SIM cards were formerly only necessary for specific cellular carriers, but they’re currently needed for any mobile device with a carrier data plan.
Does a mobile hotspot provide better coverage than my mobile phone?
Maybe, but most likely not. In most cases, a mobile hotspot will receive the same coverage as your mobile phone.