The Best Wi-Fi Hotspot

The research

Best Mobile Hot-Spots for 2018
A hotspot should support both 2. Many love to build community online with fellow readers, writers, or professionals. We use cookies and similar technologies to measure traffic, repeat visitors and site performance. Here's what you need to know to pick the right service and hardware, along with the top-rated hotspots on each carrier, and even an international option. We don't accept sponsorships, free goods, samples, promotional products, or other benefits from any of the product brands featured on this page, except in cases where those brands are manufactured by the retailer to which we are linking.

The best deals, delivered daily

The 9 Best Global Wi-Fi Hotspots

You have two choices when deciding what to pay for the L: If battery life is your top priority, the older Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot — ACL , with its hour battery life, may be worth the moderate pain of dealing with its last-gen user interface. I was unable to get it to show up on an iPad mini, but the backup local IP address of This Netgear device also offers terrific battery life, but its interface is bizarrely old-fashioned considering this is the newest model we tested.

The Nighthawk can host up to 20 devices—five more than the Verizon L—via The speeds also fall short of the second-place ranking that RootMetrics gave the company in recent years. Like the Verizon my. Activating the guest-network option, which lets friends log in with a simpler numeric password, required diving down four menus. And it offers more granular control of your local devices—including parental controls based on the OpenDNS service—than what competing hotspots deliver.

The Ethernet port on the back of the Nighthawk lets you share its LTE connection with a wired device, like a desktop or a laptop with an Ethernet port. Alas, that option is closed to new subscribers.

New hotspots come out less frequently than new smartphones, and many hotspot models for sale at the big four carriers have been out for more than a year. But although the market for LTE hotspots may be drying up, 5G hotspots may have a moment to shine, at least until manufacturers can put 5G on a phone. Lower-frequency 5G bands will offer better coverage but will come later—as in, by the time 5G phones with their own mobile-hotspot options will be available. It all adds up to continued uncertainty for this category.

The Jetpack ACL suffers from awkward controls and requires an adapter cable to recharge your phone, but has better battery life than our pick. T-Mobile sells only the unimpressive Alcatel Linkzone —and sells it only in stores and over the phone, not online. It also lacks device-charging capability.

That makes it the least bad plan if you need a home Internet replacement, but the Linkzone remains a subpar hotspot. These inadequacies are all the more unfortunate because Sprint now offers some attractive stand-alone hotspot pricing: But although its network has advanced considerably in the past few years, it still lagged compared with the others in our tests. Whereas this trim device once let you buy data in non-expiring allotments, you now choose between intermittent and regular subscriptions.

Dave Andersen, Mobile performance in the US part 1: We respect your privacy. You can change your cookie preferences to enable comments. You can also send us a note or a tweet , or find us on Facebook.

Opt out or contact us at any time. Why you should trust us Do you need a hotspot, or is your smartphone enough? How we picked How we tested Our pick: Hotspot plans can be affordable alteratives to hotel or convention hall Wi-Fi, and they're more secure and reliable than public Wi-Fi in Starbucks.

Vacation home and RV owners may also enjoy hotspots to light up their roaming, part-time homesteads. And small businesses that don't use a lot of data for instance, they primarily use POS systems may find hotspots a good alternative to a wired connection. Hotspots are available from all four nationwide carriers, as well as several virtual operators that use the larger carriers' networks. Our Fastest Mobile Networks feature compares carrier speeds and coverage in 30 major cities across the US.

In general, Verizon and T-Mobile lead on speeds. The smaller, virtual carriers offer low-volume prepaid plans that are best for occasional use. For heavy, regular hotspot users, the best idea is to add your hotspot line to your existing carrier's phone plan, as a separate line.

That will get you the most data for your dollar. Unfortunately, you may have to trade off between price and device quality. The smaller, less expensive carriers tend to have weaker, slower hotspots that don't take advantage of new network features. Can't get coverage where you live?

WISPs wireless ISPs generally use larger, home-based modems, but they're available in many small towns where traditional broadband or cellular service can't be found. The four carriers have been frantically upgrading their networks recently, and in many cases, network capabilities have now outstripped the quality of the hotspots running on them.

That means recent phones may get better speeds than hotspots do. Those are capable of, if not hitting every network feature, getting most of them.

Other hotspots out there, including everything Sprint, T-Mobile, and the virtual carriers currently sell, use three- or four-year-old modems that have lower speeds and worse signal strength than the best new phones. That means you may get 5Mbps to 10Mbps where your phone gets 25Mbps to 30Mbps, for instance. High-quality hotspots also have TS9 external antenna ports to help you improve your signal using inexpensive antennas you can purchase on Amazon or AntennaGear.

TS9 is a standard, and these antennas cost much less than a cellular signal booster does. Keep an eye out for hotspots that support 5GHz Wi-Fi, which is typically faster and less congested than 2. Some hotspots also support guest networks and access controls, such as MAC filtering and time-based access controls. Those features are on pretty much all dedicated routers nowadays, but you can't take them for granted on mobile hotspots. Hotspots with big batteries can be used as backup batteries to charge your phone, and hotspots with microSD card slots can be used as tiny servers to share media on their Wi-Fi networks.

That said, we've never found a real use for that media server functionality. We also really like the displays on the front of many current hotspots.

They can report the strength of your signal, your hotspot's name, data usage, and the network password right on the device. If you decide to make the jump, hotspots and cellular modems aren't the only option.

Most smartphones also have integrated "wireless hotspot" modes that let them connect other devices via Wi-Fi. Most higher-end wireless data plans now include hotspot use, though some service plans require an extra charge. This is a good solution for occasional use, but since it drains your phone's battery, it isn't an all-the-time solution.

To help narrow down your decision, head over to our explainer on the tethering vs. And check out our tips on how to turn your phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot. US hotspots generally allow you to roam in Canada and Mexico, although rates may be high — definitely check with your carrier in advance to find out.

It's surprisingly hard to find an unlocked hotspot with global LTE bands in the US, so if you want to go the route where you buy a local SIM to take advantage of much lower local data rates, your best choice is to use the hotspot function on your phone. Before you commit to a modem or a plan, check out our most recent cellular modem and hotspot reviews. Featured Mobile Hotspot Reviews: Fastest hotspot hardware available.

Fast, consistent 4G LTE speeds. Can be used abroad. Somewhat sluggish capacitive buttons. Spectacular speeds and range. Battery life isn't as long as some competing models.

Hotspots Can't Replace Home Internet

Leave a Reply

May 11,  · Best Mobile Hot-Spots for Our editors hand-picked these products based on our tests and reviews. If you use our links to buy, we may get a commission. $ Best for Verizon Users. Verizon's Jetpack ACL is a top-shelf portable Wi-Fi hotspot with robust LTE connectivity, intuitive touchscreen controls, and a large 4, mAh battery that helps it deliver mobile Internet for up to 24 hours. Stay connected to the Internet while on-the-go with these top-rated mobile Wi-Fi hotspots from Huawei, Netgear, Skyroam, GlocalMe, Jetpack and more.