The major appeal of WiFi is, of course, the wireless part. But considering the fact that WiFi has been around since the turn of the millennium, there are still some major problems that persist with WiFi. Despite being “wireless,” you’re still basically tethered to a specific location in a way that you aren’t with mobile data. That’s where a mobile hotspot comes in. A mobile hotspot is a device that allows you to set up your own WiFi and connect to multiple devices at once.
What to Consider Before Buying a Mobile Hotspot
There’s a good chance you’ve set up a mobile hotspot in the past. That’s because your smartphone can be used as a mobile hotspot to connect to your laptop or other devices while on the go. But if you’re regularly setting up a WiFi connection while commuting or traveling, you might instead want to opt for a dedicated product. Public WiFi can be a viable option, but it’s not perfect. It’s not always reliable, and using the same WiFi network as a large group of strangers presents its own security risks.
Mobile hotspots work in much the same way as a cellphones hotspot; they connect via cellular service, allowing you to use WiFi anywhere you have a signal. That means that in addition to the upfront cost of the device, you’ll also need to pay for a plan. It can add up, but it’s a great convenience for anyone who frequently travels and needs to work on the go.
Hotspots can be confused with travel routers, which actually serve a slightly different purpose. A travel router turns a public hotspot (say, a cafe or hotel) into a private connection. This serves two advantages. First, you can improve a weak signal by using the travel router as an extender. Secondly, you can help ensure a more secure connection, improving your safety and privacy.
How We Chose the Best Mobile Hotspots
We looked at key factors like download and broadband speeds, as well as user interface features such as the device’s battery life and how user-friendly it is. Plus, since you may have come looking for a mobile hotspot only to realize you want a travel router or vice versa, we’ve included multiple different kinds of products that will help you stay connected to the internet when you’re away from your home or office. In an increasingly connected world, it’s not worth it to settle for bad WiFi.
These are some of the best mobile hotspots available right now.
1. GlocalMe G4 Pro 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot Router
This mobile hotspot takes its design inspiration from a smartphone, down to the rectangular shape and touch screen display. That means it’ll be comfortable and familiar to use. The 4G LTE device allows you to connect up to 10 devices. Plus, it can be used without a SIM card, but it has a SIM card slot if you’d prefer, making for greater versatility. There are a variety of plans to suit your needs.
Pros: Smartphone design for ease of use and portability. Coverage in over 140 countries. Can be used without SIM card.
Cons: Battery life could be better.
2. TP-Link N300 Wireless Portable Nano Travel Router
You might not have heard the name, but TP-Link is the top provider of consumer WiFi devices. This travel router from the brand is highly compact and measures only 2.2-inches by 2.2-inches, making it perfect for travel. It’s powered by micro-USB, and it supplies 300Mbps WiFi speed on a 2.4GHz band.
Pros: Very portable and compact option that’s ideal for travel. Works with Chromecast.
Cons: Not the fastest speeds. SSID and password information is printed on an easy-to-lose business card, and it’s imperative to hold on to that card.
3. NETGEAR Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot
Netgear is a well-known and reliable brand, and they make internet devices for both at home and on the go. This mobile Wi-Fi hotspot is a great option for staying connected, no matter where you are. It can be used to connect up to 15 devices, making it a great option for study or work sessions. A small LCD screen makes it easy to monitor your device.
Pros: Can connect up to 15 devices. Up to 11 hours battery life.
Cons: May work better with some providers than others.
4. GL.iNet Travel Wireless Router
If you’re looking for a travel router, then consider this option from GL.iNet, which can be taken on the go and allows you to securely connect to public WiFi sources. It converts a public WiFi hotspot into a private one, allowing you to securely browse. Plus, it functions as a repeater to extend the signal for a faster connection. At its widest it’s just under 5″, so it can be folded and taken on the go.
Pros: Good option if you’re looking for a travel router. Type-C power input for easy use.
Cons: No battery, so it’ll need to be plugged in to use.