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Need access to high-speed internet on the go? It’s easier (and more affordable) than you think. There are plenty of 3G and 4G WiFi options that won’t cost a fortune and are small enough to fit in your pocket. We also review a speedy 5G option. But, which is the best WiFi hotspot device for your needs and money?
WiFi hotspot devices are perfect for:
- Business or leisure traveling
- Emergency internet access
- Helping you stay connected when need be.
So, whether you’re on the road or your internet service goes down at home, you’ll always have a mobile hotspot that you can use. As an added bonus, your smartphone battery won’t get drained so you don’t need to worry about carrying a charger with you 24/7.
Depending on the carrier, pricing will vary. Some things to clarify with your mobile company ahead of time are the WiFi device’s price, early termination fees, activation fees and data fees.
Typically there is the option for a 2-year agreement which would give you the WiFi hotspot device at a discounted price (or even free). However, it’s also possible that this 2-year agreement will come with early termination fees.
If you don’t want to be locked into a contract, then you’ll pay the full retail price for the device. Some companies also have activation fees. Similar to a smartphone, this is a one time fee you have to pay to activate the device.
The fourth, and most important, fee associated with mobile WiFi devices is the amount of data you choose. Similar to a phone, your hotspot will have a defined amount of gigabyte data available for use per month.
We chose our overall best hotspot device winners based on the following criteria:
- Battery life
- Number of countries it can be used in
- Number of devices that can be connected
- Unique features (projector, durability, etc.)
- Carrier coverage in the U.S.
Now that you know some background on these devices and how we selected the best, let’s learn about some of the most popular mobile hotspot options on the market today in our full Wifi hotspot reviews.
If you’re looking for a basic mobile hotspot at a reasonable price we suggest the Verizon Jetpack MiFi.The Jetpack MiFi hotspot can be used in more than 200 countries, so if you travel often for business (or pleasure) this is the mobile hotspot device for you. You can connect up to 15 WiFi devices to Verizon’s 4G LTE and 3G networks. It also doubles as a universal charger for external devices. The touch display allows you to view help menus, FAQs, data usage and more. But, unlike other carriers, they don’t have a month-to-month payment plan.
- Retail price: $199.99 (or $99.99 with 2 year contract)
- 5.36 oz
- 2.64 x 4.29 x .71 inches
If you’re a business person on the go, then this AT&T Unite Express portable WiFi hotspot is perfect for you. It is has a compact, sleek design with up to 11 hours of usage and can connect up to 15 devices. The Express is not only small and easy to transport, but it’s also fast, secure and supports international roaming. You can take it anywhere in the world and still stay connected. We also like the full color 1.77″ touch screen display.
- Retail price: starts at $144.99
- 30 monthly payments of $4.84/month
- 2.75 oz
- 4.33 x 2.68 x 0.61 inches
This short video gives an overview of how the Express can help you work on the go.
Sprint has a few WiFi hotspot devices to choose from including the 5G Hub, which connects to Sprint’s 5G network (limited coverage). This device is ideal for those who do a lot of data-heavy mobile web surfing (i.e., videos, file sharing). It also has voice commands built-in and can connect up to 20 devices. And if you’re not in a 5G zone, you’ll be on the LTE Advance network. The 5G Hub uses an encrypted network so you can surf securely. On the downside, it’s a little larger, and its fast speed comes at a higher price tag. However, they do offer other less expensive hotspot devices if you prefer.
- 24-month installments: $25/month
- Retail price: $600
- Width: 4.84″
- Height: 3.94″
- Depth: 1.25″
The Coolpad SURF from T-Mobile allows you to stream their 3G, 4G and LTE wireless network up to 15 devices and manage them through their web interface. It’s also the most affordable of the major carriers at only $3 per month with a two-year contract or $72 if you pay in full (plus the cost of the data). However, you pay for what you get, and unlike the other hotspot devices, the Coolpad SURF does not have a digital display. If you are seeking simple-to-use, affordable WiFi, then the Coolpad SURF is your best bet.
- Retail price: $72.00
- 2-year contract: $3.00/month
- Weight: 3.88 oz
- Height: 3.88″
- Width: 4.29″
- Depth: 0.62″
Now that you’ve decided on a hotspot (if you haven’t, hit us up with your questions in the comments below), you’ll need a cell phone plan to go with it. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered in our comprehensive review of the best cell phone carriers, as well as a review of a newer market that has providers offering more affordable plans: MVNOs compared.
Which hotspot are you leaning towards?
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