Stay Connected On The Go: Best WiFi Hotspot Devices

Best Mobile Hotspot
Verizon logo
Jetpack MiFi
Most Durable
AT&T logo
Unite Explore
Best Projector and Hotspot in 1
Sprint logo
LivePro

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 so you can take them with you while traveling.

Article Overview

The Benefits Of Mobile WiFi Devices

WiFi hotspot devices are perfect for traveling, emergency internet access or just 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.

How Does Pricing Work?

Depending on the carrier, pricing will vary. Some things to clarify with your carrier 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 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 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.

Best WiFi Hotspot Device By Category

We chose our overall best hotspot device winners (regardless of carrier) in specific categories 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.

There were three top picks and each one is reviewed below in more detail, but if you’re looking to shop by service carrier because of loyalty or an existing account, then we’ve also selected our favorite devices for each major carrier in their respective section.

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.

Best Mobile Hotspot: Verizon Jetpack MiFi Review

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Verizon JetpackIf you’re looking for a basic mobile hotspot we suggest the Verizon Jetpack MiFi. It is one of the best mobile hotspot plans in our opinion. 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.

Pricing

  • 2-year contract: $49.99 (early termination fee $175)
  • Retail price: $199.99
  • Activation fee: $40

Tech Specs

  • Weight: 4.74 oz
  • Height: 2.6″
  • Width: 3.7″
  • Depth: 0.76″

Video: Sprint LivePro

This model has been around for a few years, although it’s stood the test of time and just as reliable and fast as ever. Check out this CNET review from when it was newer to the market in 2014.

Most Durable: AT&T Unite Explore Review

AT&T Unite Explore

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If you’re an outdoors person on the go, then this AT&T Unite Explore portable WiFi hotspot is perfect for you. It is shock and water-resistant as well as dustproof. It has up to 22 hours of usage and can connect up to 15 devices.

With up to 24 hours of standby and a USB BatteryBoost cable to charge your smartphone, you’ll be set to tackle most situations. You can also use it to secure guest WiFi with an optional timer and content filtering.

Pricing

  • Retail price: starts at $49.99

Tech Specs

  • Weight: 4.9 oz
  • Width: 4.3″
  • Height: 2.7″
  • Depth: 0.7″

Video Overview

AT&T Unite Explore is the only WiFi device we found in our research with durability features including shock and water-resistant and is dustproof. So whether you’re clumsy or outside a lot, this will hold up.

Best Projector and Hotspot in 1: Sprint LivePro Review

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Sprint LiveProThe Sprint LivePro is a 2-in-1 projector and hotspot and Sprint offers one of the best hotspot plans. You can host a movie night or give a work presentation with this all-in-one tool. Additionally, up to 8 devices can be connected to this mobile hotspot.

There is no standby mode but it works for over 10 hours in hotspot-only mode. This device doubles as an electrical charger as well.

Pricing

  • 2-year service agreement: $299.99
  • 24-month installments:$18.75 for 23 months, $18.74 for 24th month
  • Retail price: $449.99

Tech Specs

  • Weight: 14.1 oz
  • Width: 4.7″
  • Height: 4.7″
  • Depth: 1.1″

 

Best WiFi Hotspot Devices By Carrier

Take a look at these five mobile carriers to see what your options are for a WiFi hotspot device for each company. To learn more about these carriers, read this article.

AT&T | Sprint | T-Mobile | US Cellular | Verizon

AT&T Wireless Hotspot Devices

AT&T logo

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Looking for an AT&T hotspot device? They have a few to choose from.

ZTE Spro 2 Smart Projector | AT&T Unite Pro | AT&T VelocityZTE Mobley

ZTE Spro 2 Smart Projector Review

ZTE Spro 2 Smart Projector

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AT&T’s ZTE Spro 2 Smart Projector doubles as a projector and WiFi hotspot. The projector bulb has a life of 20,000 hours and can be used for movie nights or even work presentations. The projector displays images up to 10 feet in size and can run for up to 2.5 hours.

To use as a WiFi hotspot it has up to 16 hours of connectivity and can connect up to 10 devices. Standby times are up to 29.2 days or 8.3 days with USB port activated. There are no data limits and it’s currently only available with a 2-year agreement.

Pricing

  • Retail price: starts at $299.99

Tech Specs

  • Weight: 19.4 oz
  • Height: 5.3″
  • Width: 5.2″
  • Depth: 1.2″

AT&T Unite Pro Review

AT&T Unite Pro

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AT&T’s Unite Pro has 16 hours of use and 16 days of standby. You can connect up to 15 devices and you have a wifi option for guests. This wireless hotspot device can be used in more than 200 countries.

Pricing

  • Retail price: starts at $199.99

Tech Specs

  • Weight: 5.82 oz
  • Width: 4.41″
  • Height: 2.68″
  • Depth: 0.75″

AT&T Velocity Review

AT&T Velocity

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AT&T Velocity loves the number 10: connect up to 10 devices, use the hotspot for up to 10 hours and have it on standby for 10 days. You can add a pin to the lock screen for added security and give out a guest WiFi password for one-time users. This device can be used in 100 countries. From the at&t velocity reviews we read this is a decent device given the low cost.

Pricing

  • Retail price: starts at $0.99 (with 2-year contract)

Tech Specs

  • Weight: 4.6 oz
  • Width: 4.5″
  • Height: 2.5″
  • Depth: 0.7″

ZTE Mobley Review

ZTE Mobley

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The ZTE Mobley connects up to 5 devices in your car. There are no charging cables required because it is powered by the vehicle. Most vehicles that are 1996 or newer can use the ZTE Mobley. Just plug the AT&T powered device into the vehicle’s OBD-II port and you’re all set.

Pricing

  • Retail price: starts at Free (with 2-year contract)
  • Access charge: $10
  • DataConnect plan: $20/month for 1GB or $30/month for 3GB

Tech Specs

  • Weight: 2.12 oz
  • Width: 3.22″
  • Height: 1.96″
  • Depth: 0.86″

Sprint Wireless Hotspot Devices

Sprint logo

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Sprint has a number of WiFi hotspot devices to choose from including the popular franklin r850 mobile hotspot reviews.

R850 Mobile HotspotPocket WiFi

R850 Mobile Hotspot Review

R850 Mobile HotspotYou can connect up to 10 devices to the Franklin Wireless R850 Hotspot. It provides up to 10 hours of use and 18 hours of standby. It is compatible with Sprint service.

Pricing

  • 2-year service agreement: Free
  • 24-month installments: $6/month
  • Retail price: $144

Tech Specs

  • Weight: 3.5 oz
  • Width: 3.46″
  • Height: 2.62″
  • Depth: 0.47″

Pocket WiFi Review

Pocket WiFiConnect up to 10 devices to the Pocket WiFi hotspot device via Sprint. It has 10 hours of battery juice and it has Environmental Certification from Underwriters Laboratories.

Pricing

  • 2-year service agreement: $29.99
  • 24-month installments: $7.50/month
  • Retail price: $180

Tech Specs

  • Weight: 4.23 oz
  • Width: 4.6″
  • Height: 2.4″
  • Depth: 0.55″

T-Mobile ZTE Falcon Z-917 Hotspot Devices

tmobile-logo-250

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T-Mobile ZTE Falcon Z-917The ZTE Falcon Z-917 Hotspot allows you to connect up to 10 WiFi-enabled devices via T-Mobile. It has up to 7 days of standby time but does not support international travel.

Pricing

  • Retail price: $72.00
  • 2-year contract: $0 upfront + $3.34/month (early termination fee is remaining balance on device)
  • SIM starter kit: $20

Tech Specs

  • Weight: 4.23 oz
  • Height: 4.13″
  • Width: 2.36″
  • Depth: 0.63″

U.S. Cellular Wireless Hotspot Devices

US Cellular logo

View US Cellular Hotspot Products

U.S. Cellular has two mobile hotspots available.

ZTE Unite III Mobile Hotspot | Novatel Wireless MiFi M100

ZTE Unite III Mobile Hotspot Review

ZTE Unite III Mobile HotspotThe ZTE Unite III Mobile Hotspot can connect up to 15 devices via U.S. Cellular. It has a usage time of up to 10 hours and a standby time of up to 10 days.

Pricing

  • 2-year agreement: $29.99
  • Account fee: $40

Tech Specs

  • Weight: 5.29 oz
  • Width: 4.61″
  • Height: 2.44″
  • Depth: 0.55″

Novatel Wireless MiFi M100 Review

Novatel Wireless MiFi M100The MiFi M100 has a 10 hour usage time and has a 50-foot indoor range and 300-foot outdoor range (in direct line of sight). You can connect up to 15 devices to this U.S. Cellular hotspot.

Pricing

  • 2-year agreement: $0.01
  • Account fee: $40

Tech Specs

  • Weight: 3.59 oz
  • Width: 3.15″
  • Height: 3.15″
  • Depth: 0.51″

Verizon Wireless Hotspot Devices

Verizon logo

View Verizon Hotspot Products

If you’re a Verizon user you can purchase one of their four mobile hotspot plans to connect to their network on the go. Here are the mobile hotspot devices from Verizon.

Ellipsis Jetpack | Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot | MiFi 4G LTE Global USB Modem

Ellipsis Jetpack Review

Ellipsis JetpackTrack the number of devices connected to the Ellipsis Jetpack, data usage, battery life and network single strength from the display. You can connect up to eight WiFi enabled devices to the Verizon-powered Ellipsis Jetpack and use it up to 10 hours at a time (depending on application use).

Pricing

  • 2-year contract: $19.99 (early termination fee $175)
  • Retail price: $99.99
  • Activation fee: $40

Tech Specs

  • Weight: 2.9 oz
  • Height: 3.07″
  • Width: 2.2″
  • Depth: 0.49″

Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot Review

Verizon JetpackThe Jetpack 4G LTE mobile hotspot can be used for up to 24 hours at a time with Verizon. You can connect up to 15 devices and it works in more than 200 countries. This portable WiFi hotspot doubles as a charger and has a standby time of 27 days. You can also use this mobile hotspot as a WiFi connection for guests by giving temporary passwords.

Pricing

  • 2-year contract: $29.99 (early termination fee $175)
  • Retail price: $199.99
  • Activation fee: $40

Tech Specs

  • Weight: 5.8 oz
  • Height: 4.33″
  • Width: 2.67″
  • Depth: 0.75″

MiFi 4G LTE Global USB Modem Review

MiFi 4G LTE Global USBSimilar to the Jetpack MiFi, the MiFi 4G LTE Global USB Modem works in more than 200 countries. However, there are many differences between these two Verizon MiFi tools. First, this device plugs into your USB, so if your laptop or other device doesn’t have a USB port it’s not for you.

Also, it only connects one device, the one that the modem is plugged into via the USB. It has VPN access for an added security feature. The two LED indicators show if you’re connected and how much data you’re using.

Pricing

  • 2-year contract: Free (early termination fee $175)
  • Retail price: $199.99
  • Activation fee: $40

Tech Specs

  • Weight: 1.77 oz
  • Height: 3.27″
  • Width: 1.38″
  • Depth: 0.45″

Tips When Staying Connected

If you do find yourself stuck using public WiFi we highly recommend you use these tips to keep yourself protected from hackers (including using a VPN to mask your identity).

What do you need a portable WiFi device for?

Kimberly researches everything before she buys. She wants to make sure she is getting the best bang for her buck by purchasing the best product/service, which is why she loves her work. She has a degree in Multimedia Journalism and has been researching and writing professionally since 2013 to help consumers make more educated decisions.

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Moby
Great comparison Kimberly thanks! I’m wondering which of these models you’d recommend for using as a cellular mobile hotspot (i.e. through a provider such as Ting)? The important thing is that the device be unlocked and support the GSM network (via a Ting GSM Sim card in this case, which runs on the T-mobile network).
Mary Beth
I’ve used both the Verizon jet pack (for work) and one of AT&T’s devices (not listed above) and they are great for when you are working on the go and don’t have wifi (or are able to tether it from your smart phone). I used it on a road trip and it was great to have the ability to work on the road while traveling. Not ideal for streaming on the go though because it will quickly eat into your data plan.