August 10, 2022

While your smartphone’s mobile hotspot may be useful for keeping your laptop and other devices connected while on the road, they have their limitations in speed and the amount of high-speed data. If you travel regularly and need to stay connected, you’re going to need a standalone mobile hotspot to meet your needs. These hotspots are offered by the national cell phone carriers and can provide you with access to 5G networks, giving you ample speed for remote internet needs. There are even hotspots that will work internationally.

Once purchased, you can add the hotspot to your existing plan as an additional line, then choose from data plans that can give you as much as 150 GB of data per month depending on the carrier. If your travels demand a better connection than the hotspot on your phone, then read on to find out about the best mobile hotspots on the market.

Best Overall: Orbic Speed 5G (Verizon)
Best for AT&T: Netgear Nighthawk M6 Pro
Best for T-Mobile: T-Mobile 5G Hotspot
Best for International Travel: Solis Lite
Best Value: Inseego Jetpack MiFi

How We Picked the Best Mobile Hotspots

Hotspots are generally available through the three largest cell carriers: Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. We selected the best hotspots these carriers have to offer along with one hotspot for international travel. In many respects, our selection of hotspots was in part a review of not just the hotspot itself but also of the speed and coverage these carriers offer. 

Of the hotspots these carriers offer, we chose models that offer the fastest speeds along with the most reliable connectivity. While you can pick a hotspot from any of these carriers, it clearly makes the most sense financially to choose a hotspot from the same carrier as your cell phone in order to avoid paying significantly higher monthly fees. 

Best Mobile Hotspots: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Orbic Speed 5G (Verizon)

Great Versatility. Orbic

Why It Made The Cut: For raw speed and coverage (the two most important qualities of any hotspot), you won’t find a better option. 

Specs:
Network Speed: 5G UW
Number of Devices: 30
Battery Life: 12 hours

Pros:
— Supports 5G UW network
— Compatible with WiFi 6
— Can connect up to 30 devices

Cons:
— Expensive
— Shorter battery life than other hotspots. 

Verizon has the largest U.S. cellular network in the country, so it makes sense that they also happen to have the best all-around mobile hotspot. Of Verizon’s hotspot offerings, the Obric Speed 5G UW, is the best. Unlike its predecessor, the Jetpack, it can connect to the carrier’s cutting edge 5G network as well as its lightning fast Ultra Wideband service (when available). 

Orbic’s other specs are also impressive. It supports up to 30 WiFi devices to the Orbic speed and does a good job of sharing bandwidth among multiple devices thanks to its support of WiFi 6. 

In terms of size, the Orbic is one of the beefier hotspots on the market at about 10 ounces, but it’s still light enough and compact enough to carry with you. The Orbic gets 12 hours of battery life, which puts it in the same ballpark as other 5G hotspots. It’s also one of the most expensive hotspots on the market at $299, a price that Verizon will let you spread out over 36 months.

Best for AT&T: Netgear Nighthawk M6 Pro

Connects with Up to 32 Devices. Netgear

Why It Made The Cut: The M6 Pro is the clear choice for AT&T customers who want a hotspot with a lightning fast connection. 

Specs:
Network Speed: 5G UW
Number of Devices: 30
Battery Life: 12 hours

Pros:
— Supports 5G Plus network
— Compatible with WiFi 6
— Can connect up to 32 devices

Cons:
— AT&T’s 5G network is still quite limited

While the Nighthawk M6 Pro may be pricier than the standard M6, if you want very fast mobile Internet speeds, then it’s worth the extra cost. The biggest difference between the Pro and the standard M6 is that the Pro can connect to AT&T’s 5G Plus network. 

While that network is still relatively small compared to Verizon’s 5G UW network, the telecommunications giant is rapidly expanding it. And, unless you have the Pro you won’t be able to take advantage of it. That said, it’s the most expensive hotspot on the market, at an eyebrow-raising $459. Like other carriers, AT&T will allow you to spread that cost out over 36 monthly interest free payments. 

In terms of size and performance, the Blackhawk M6 Pro is similar to other hotspots. It weighs just over half a pound and is compact enough to fit into the pocket of a backpack. Its full color display is a bit larger than others at 2.8 inches, making it easier to dial in settings and add or remove devices. It can support up to 32 devices and has a battery life of up to 12 hours. It’s also compatible with WiFi 6, which means it can handle multiple devices at once without the congestion issues of older WiFi versions. 

Best for T-Mobile: T-Mobile 5G Hotspot

Long-Lasting Battery. T-Mobile

Why It Made The Cut: T-Mobile boasts the largest and fastest 5G network in the country and this hotspot will give you access to it. 

Specs:
Network Speed: 5G Ultra Capacity
Number of Devices: 32
Battery Life: 24 hours

Pros:
— Access to T-Mobile’s large 5G network
— Long 24-hour battery life
— One of the most affordable hotspots

Cons:
— Smaller display screen

Though T-Mobile may not match the coverage of rival Verizon, the company has successfully carved a niche for itself in the mobile communications market with its affordable services and high speeds. T-Mobile also boasts the largest 5G network in the nation. This hotspot not only gives you access to that network. It’s also one of the cheapest hotspots you can buy, costing just $198. And, if you happen to already have service with T-Mobile, you can add the hotspot for free by simply adding a new line. 

There are other things to like about T-Mobile’s hotspot as well. It has a large battery, which gives you a full day of service before needing a recharge versus the max 12 hours you’ll get from other hotspots. You can also load up to 32 devices on it at once. And, if you’re planning on carrying it around on your person, it’s pretty compact. It weighs less than 8 ounces and measures just 5 inches long by 3 inches wide and less than an inch thick.

Best for International Travel: Solis Lite

Comes in a Variety of Plans. Solis

Why It Made The Cut: If you’re traveling internationally and don’t want the hassle of finding high speed access locally, Solis Lite is the answer.

Specs:
Network Speed: Varies on location
Number of Devices: 10
Battery Life: 14 to 20 hours

Pros:
— Works in more than 130 different countries
— Pay as you go plans
— Easy to use design and payment system

Cons:
— Service can be unpredictable depending on where you are

There are ways to get mobile high-speed Internet access if you’re traveling internationally. You can purchase local sim cards or you can use a worldwide roaming plan, but some countries won’t sell sim cards to non-residents and most U.S. carriers will charge you a lot for relatively small amounts of data usage. Solis Lite is one option. This little orange disc-shaped hotpot gives you internet access while traveling abroad. The company grants you access to WiFi by using local mobile networks that the company partners with from wherever you happen to be. Solis works in more than 130 countries through some 200 different local carriers. 

Once you purchase the $120 for the hotspot, you can buy data by the day, month, or data amount. And, making data purchases is easy via the Solis WiFi app. A 24-hour day pass costs $9. You can also pay per gigabyte or get a one-month unlimited data subscription for $99. This hotspot will support up to 10 devices at once.

Best Value: Inseego Jetpack MiFi

Great Value. Verizon 

Why It Made The Cut: The Jetpack may not offer 5G, but it still provides plenty of speed for most mobile Internet needs at an affordable price. 

Specs:
Network Speed: 4G LTE
Number of Devices: 15
Battery Life: 24 hours

Pros:
— One of the most affordable hotspots
— Compact size
— Dependable connectivity

Cons:
—  Not compatible with 5G

Verizon’s Jetpack may take a backseat to the newly launched 5G Orbic hotspot, but it’s still a great budget option for those who may be just fine with the speed of Verizon’s LTE service. You can connect up to 15 devices to it and it works internationally in concert with Verizon’s international roaming services. While it may lack the 5G-connectivity of the newer Orbic, its notably cheaper, costing just $200. The Jetpack also uses a Qualcomm modem, which allows it to aggregate signals from multiple carriers, resulting in better connectivity.

If you don’t mind the slower speeds (which are really more than enough for most mobile WiFi needs), you can take advantage of its long 2- hour battery life, which is twice that of the Orbic. It also features a handy USB-C port, which allows you to use the JetPack as a mobile charger for your laptop or smartphone. In terms of size, the Jetpack is also more compact than the Orbic, weighing in at just over 5 ounces and measuring just 4.3 inches long, 2.6 inches wide and less than 3/4 of an inch thick.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Mobile Hotspot

Necessity

Hotspots aren’t cheap. Even the most affordable ones cost $200 and most carriers require you to add a line to have one, which is an ongoing monthly expense for something you may only use intermittently. And, if you have a smartphone, you may not need one. Most smartphones have hotspots that allow you to connect up to 10 devices to your phone, turning it into a hotspot. Many carriers include a limited amount of high-speed data for your hotspot with no additional charge depending on your plan. Verizon, for example, includes 10 gigabytes of data per month per line for its hotspots. If that’s enough mobile high-speed data to suit your needs, you can forgo the additional expense of a separate hotspot. 

Speed

There are 4G LTE hotspots and 5G hotspots. While you may want spring for the faster technology, it’s best to consider what you really need. While 5G has the potential to transfer data at speeds that far exceed 4G LTE, real world speeds aren’t that different. 4G LTE data speed can range between 15 and 50 Mbps (megabits per second) while most carriers’ 5G speeds currently top out at around 70 mbps. (The exception is T-Mobile, which can reach speeds of 150 Mbps). Given that 4G LTE hotspots are generally hundreds of dollars cheaper than newer 5G models, it may make sense to go lower tech with your hotspot. 

Total Cost

If you’re planning on purchasing a hotspot, choose one from the same provider as your cell phone as it will be considerably more affordable than using a different carrier. Your cellular provider will typically charge you between $15 and $20 a  month for the additional line for the hotspot. If you go with a different provider, you’ll end up paying closer to $60 for the high speed data line. Keep in mind that these monthly subscription fees are in addition to the one-time cost of the hotspot itself, which ranges from $200 to $300. 

FAQs

Q: Is mobile hotspot better than WiFi?

A mobile hotspot usually will not get the same speeds as a standard home WiFi network that has a hardwired connection to the home. Real-world speeds for mobile hotspots are typically between 30 and 70 Mbps, while home WiFi networks can reach speeds of 400 Mbps or more. While 30 Mbps is more than enough to stream video content, a mobile hotspot can experience lag when supporting multiple devices at once. 

Q: Is there a hotspot with unlimited data?

Most carriers limit the amount of data one can use on their hotspots, albeit these limits can be quite high. Verizon, for example, grants its users up to 150 GB of high-speed data on its hotspots for its premium plan. T-Mobile’s high-speed data plan allows for 2 GB per month with the ability to purchase more data in chunks. AT&T’s top-tier mobile hotspot data plan allows for up to 100 GB of high speed data per month. 

Q: How much is a hotspot per month?

The monthly cost of a hotspot is dependent upon the plan you choose and the carrier. AT&T’s plans range from $25 per month for 20 gigabytes of high speed data up to $90 per month for 100 GB of data. T-Mobile charges $5 per month for 500 MB of high speed data or $10 per month for 2 GB then charges an additional fee for chunks of 5, 10, 30, or 50 GB of data. Verizon’s plans start at $20 per month for 15 GB of data and top out at $80 per month for 150 GB of data. 

Q: How long does 100 GB of hotspot last?

How long 100 GB of data lasts depends on how you use it. That amount of data will allow you to browse the Internet for about 1,200 hours or stream 200 hours of streaming video. The average household uses about 435 GB of data per month. 

Final Thoughts

When choosing a hotspot, it makes the most sense to select one from the same carrier as your cell phone. Most carriers offer more than one hotspot option. Verizon’s Orbic Speed 5G, with its excellent coverage and fast 5G speeds, is the best option for anyone who doesn’t mind paying its high price tag. Those looking for a mobile hotspot they can take internationally should consider the Solis Lite with its ability to provide high -speed Internet in more than 130 countries. 

This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.