Best Mobile Hotspots 2020

Best Verizon hotspotBest AT&T hotspotBest hotspot for international travel
netgear nighthawk mobile hotspot router facing the front
Verizon Inseego Jetpack MiFi 8800LNighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot RouterHuawei E8372h-153 USB Wingle
$270.54$249.99$79.00
View on AmazonView AT&T plansView on Amazon

If you need reliable internet while traveling abroad or working outside the office, you may be in need of a mobile hotspot. These handy, compact devices provide Wi-Fi when you’re on the go, tapping into your cellular carrier’s network to launch an internet signal for smartphones, laptops, and other devices.

Most of us nowadays would be fine using the hotspot function on our cell phones to get a little Wi-Fi in a jiffy. A portable Wi-Fi hotspot costs more, but it comes in handy if you need a dependable and secure connection that won’t drain your phone’s battery or wipe out its data plan. Mobile hotspots also support many more devices than a cell phone hotspot can, and they give you more options for security features and staying connected overseas.

Let’s take a gander to see which mobile hotspot works best for you.

Which mobile hotspot is best?

We think Verizon’s Inseego Jetpack MiFi 8800L is the best hotspot device out there right now. It’s well designed, easy to use, and it comes with extra functions that let you charge your other devices and set up a guest network for friends and other users. Also, Verizon has a huge nationwide network, so it will serve you well from the shores of California to the lobster huts of Maine.

Still, the best hotspot depends first and foremost on your cellular provider. Most hotspots are provided through the major cell companies like Verizon and AT&T. You’ll pay for the hotspot and then you add it as an extra line to your current cell phone plan, which gets more data for your doubloons compared to if you got a hotspot from a separate provider.

If you want, you can also sign up for a plan in which you just pay for the hotspot data and buy the device. This gives you the flexibility to choose a hotspot from a different cell carrier, but it will also likely cost you more money.

Pro tip:

The best hotspot data plan comes from Sprint, giving you 100 GB of data on its 4G LTE network for a respectable $60 per month. Sprint also provides more affordable options, including 10 GB for $30 per month and 50 GB for $50 per month.

Best mobile hotspots

Best forProductPriceConnectivityMax devicesGet it
Best Verizon hotspotVerizon Inseego Jetpack MiFi 8800L Hotspot$270.544G LTE, dual-band 2.4GHz & 5GHz, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac15View on Amazon
Best AT&T hotspotNighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot Router$249.994G LTE, dual-band 2.4GHz & 5GHz, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac20View AT&T plans
Best T-Mobile hotspotAlcatel LINKZONE 2$90.004G LTE, dual-band 2.4GHz & 5GHz, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac16View on T-Mobile
Best Sprint hotspotInseego MiFi 8000 Mobile Hotspot$240.004G LTE, dual-band 2.4GHz & 5GHz, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac15View on Sprint
Best hotspot for international travelHuawei E8372h-153 USB Wingle$79.004G LTE, 2.4GHz, 802.11 b/g/n10View on Amazon
Best forBest Verizon hotspot
ProductVerizon Inseego Jetpack MiFi 8800L Hotspot
Price$270.54
Connectivity4G LTE, dual-band 2.4GHz & 5GHz, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Max devices15
Get itView on Amazon
Best forBest AT&T hotspot
ProductNighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot Router
Price$249.99
Connectivity4G LTE, dual-band 2.4GHz & 5GHz, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Max devices20
Get itView AT&T plans
Best forBest T-Mobile hotspot
ProductAlcatel LINKZONE 2
Price$90.00
Connectivity4G LTE, dual-band 2.4GHz & 5GHz, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Max devices16
Get itView on T-Mobile
Best forBest Sprint hotspot
ProductInseego MiFi 8000 Mobile Hotspot
Price$240.00
Connectivity4G LTE, dual-band 2.4GHz & 5GHz, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Max devices15
Get itView on Sprint
Best forBest hotspot for international travel
ProductHuawei E8372h-153 USB Wingle
Price$79.00
Connectivity4G LTE, 2.4GHz, 802.11 b/g/n
Max devices10
Get itView on Amazon

For the most part, we chose hotspots that you can buy directly through your cell carrier. It’s easiest to buy the hotspot and then add it as an extra line on your current phone plan, but you can also set up a plan on a different carrier just for the hotspot.

Some of these hotspots are available unlocked, so you can use them with multiple providers. But make sure to run it by your cell carrier first to ensure your sweet new hotspot will work on the plan you have.

Pro tip:

If you need a hotspot only once in a while, you can save money by sticking with your cell phone’s hotspot. To see how it works, read our instructions on how to set up Wi-Fi tethering on your phone.

Inseego Jetpack MiFi 8800L

Best Verizon hotspot
  • 4G LTE, simultaneous dual-band connection
  • Connects up to 15 devices
  • Ports: USB-C and TS9 (for antennas)

Price: $270.54

Weighing in at under half a pound, Verizon’s Inseego Jetpack MiFi 8800L is compact but sturdily built, with a touchscreen that makes it easy to switch on and adjust configurations. It taps into Verizon’s 4G LTE network, so you know you’ll get fast speeds and reliable coverage while you’re on the road.

The Jetpack MiFi 8800L connects up to 15 devices, has a powerful battery, and comes with a USB-C port that you can use to charge other phones and devices. It also has ports for antennas to get a stronger Wi-Fi signal. And there are some great security settings, including the ability to set up a guest network for friends and other users.

Pros

  • Intuitive touchscreen
  • Long-lasting battery

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Exclusive to Verizon customers

NETGEAR Nighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot Router

Best AT&T hotspot
netgear nighthawk mobile hotspot router facing the front
  • 4G LTE, simultaneous dual-band connection
  • Connects up to 20 devices
  • Ports: USB-C, Ethernet, and TS9 (for antennas)

Price: $249.99

At 8.5 ounces, NETGEAR’s Nighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot Router is chunkier in size compared to the Jetpack MiFi 8800L. And it’s not as user-friendly since it doesn’t have a touchscreen. But it can get Wi-Fi to more devices and also has more ports, including a USB-A port for charging your phone and an Ethernet port that gives your laptop a direct internet connection.

Like the Jetpack MiFi 8800L, the Nighthawk lets you connect to 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands simultaneously, giving you more options and flexibility if multiple users are using the single hotspot.

Pros

  • Lots of features
  • Dependable performance

Cons

  • Awkward controls compared to other hotspots
  • Bulky weight

Pro tip:

You can buy the unlocked, slightly more deluxe Nighthawk M1 Mobile Hotspot on Amazon. The fact that it’s unlocked means you can swap SIM cards to get Wi-Fi from different providers.

Still, make sure to double-check that your provider will actually let you use the Nighthawk M1. Some T-Mobile customers have reported experiencing issues with the carrier blocking the device.

Alcatel LINKZONE 2

Best T-Mobile hotspot
Alcatel-LINKZONE-2-Black
  • 4G LTE, simultaneous dual-band connection
  • Connects up to 16 devices
  • Ports: USB-A, USB-C

Price: $90.00

The first thing you’ll notice about the Alcatel LINKZONE 2 is the price. It’s over $100 cheaper than both Verizon’s and AT&T’s better-known hotspot devices, making it a solid choice if you prize affordability over features.

The LINKZONE 2 has no touchscreen, so you’ll have to rely on the device’s LED lights to tell whether it’s working properly. Its microchip components aren’t top of the line, so it may not hit the same speeds you could normally get on a phone on T-Mobile’s network: one reviewer reported it hitting only 30 Mbps download speeds, even though the manufacturer claims it can reach 150 Mbps.

But, quite frankly, 30 Mbps is still plenty fast for a wireless data connection. And the LINKZONE 2 comes with an excellent, removable battery that will last up to 16 hours. (Also, it’s one of only two hotspots provided by T-Mobile, so your options are limited anyway.)

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Powerful battery

Cons

  • Clunky controls
  • Limited speeds

Inseego MiFi 8000

Best Sprint hotspot
inseego mifi 8000 mobile hotspot for sprint customers
  • 4G LTE, simultaneous dual-band connection
  • Connects up to 15 devices
  • Ports: USB-C and TS9 (for antennas)

Price: $240.00

A close cousin of Verizon’s Inseego Jetpack MiFi 8800L, this portable hotspot is lightweight, easy to use, and delivers excellent performance. It has a touchscreen, a USB-C port to let you charge your phone, and a couple of nifty TS9 ports that let you plug in antennas.

This is also a great option if you want to sign up for a data-only plan outside of your current cell carrier. Of the four major cell carriers in the US, Sprint offers the best deal for mobile hotspot plans, with fair prices in exchange for up to 100 GB of data per month.

However, we recommend thinking twice before signing up. Sprint recently merged with T-Mobile and is in the process of folding its network into the T-Mobile brand. Sprint no longer offers the HTC 5G Hub as a hotspot option, and it’s still unclear whether the Inseego MiFi 8000 will survive the corporate transition or get phased out as well.

Pros

  • Great build
  • Flexible data options

Cons

  • High cost
  • Uncertain network accessibility given the T-Mobile and Sprint merger

Huawei E8372h-153 USB Wingle

Best hotspot for international travel
  • 4G LTE, 2.4GHz connection
  • Connects up to 10 devices
  • Plugs into USB-A ports and chargers

Price: $79.00

Compared to American cell providers, phone networks in other parts of the world tend to be more flexible about prepaid data and phone plans. Having an unlocked phone or device really comes in handy as you travel the seven seas, and this USB modem works like a charm.

I had this Wi-Fi dongle (or “Wingle,” as Huawei humorously calls it) while living overseas for a couple years. It’s not quite as mobile as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot, since you have to plug it in to your computer or in to a wall or car socket with a USB charger. But it’s much cheaper compared to most hotspots and requires only a simple setup.

All you have to do is buy a SIM card with data from a phone provider in the country you’re in. Plug the SIM in to the device, plug the device in to the wall, and you’re good to go.

Pros

  • Simple design
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Requires SIM card
  • Unable to provide service in USA and Canada

Pro tip:

If your travel itinerary makes getting a SIM card too impractical, you can spring for the Skyroam Solis Lite, a compact hotspot that works in over 130 countries. Instead of using a SIM to deliver data from a local or regional cell provider, you sign up for a data plan directly through Skyroam.

You’ll pay for data by the day, month, region, or amount of gigabytes you need. But the price adds up quickly, so you may not want to go for this unless you really need it.

What is a mobile hotspot?

A mobile hotspot is a portable wireless device that lets you access an internet signal through a cell phone network. Major cell carriers Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint all sell wireless hotspots and you usually get one by adding the hotspot as a line to your phone plan. You can also sign up for a prepaid data plan if you just want the hotspot and don’t want to include it as part of your phone plan.

Most cellular phones nowadays can also be used as hotspots, so a portable Wi-Fi hotspot device isn’t quite as crucial as it used to be. But mobile hotspots come in handy if you need consistent internet access while you’re working remotely or traveling. They can be used in cars, boats, RVs, hotels, and overseas. They often deliver faster speeds than a cell phone hotspot, connect more devices, and experience longer battery life.

Can I use a hotspot for home internet?

Unless you’re using a hotspot as a replacement for satellite internet, hotspots are not very practical or affordable to use as a home internet option. Cell providers strictly limit the amount of data you can use on a monthly hotspot plan, often maxing out the data cap at just 100 GB—way less than the 1 TB or unlimited data caps on many home internet plans. The amount of data you’re getting is also a lot less compared to what you pay and speeds are generally much more limited as well.

The one exception to this is if you live in a rural area and your only other internet option is satellite. A hotspot can be a more financially viable option than satellite internet, which usually comes at a fairly high cost and has limited data allowances.

With the advent of 5G, there could come a time when we have one set plan for our phones and our home internet. We might be able to use a 5G phone on the go and have a 5G hotspot at home, delivering speeds on a par with or even faster than fiber and cable internet. But that day has yet to come, and in the meantime you’re better off paying for home internet separately.

Should I get a 5G hotspot?

We don’t recommend 5G hotspots just yet. Though 5G is fast growing as the new wireless standard for phone companies, there are a limited number of 5G hotspot models available. They cost a ton more than 4G LTE hotspots, and they won’t really do much more for you since 5G networks are still in development.

If you’re dying to try out a 5G hotspot, the best one at the moment is Verizon’s 5G MiFi M1000. It lets you tap into Verizon’s much-touted, millimeter-wave 5G network, capable of hitting speeds of up to 1.1 Gbps in relatively contained urban areas. Verizon’s 5G footprint is relatively small at the moment, but you’ll be getting more coverage and faster speeds as that millimeter-wave network grows.

Pro tip:

Read our deep dive on 5G to learn the differences between 5G and its 4G predecessor and decide when the time is right for you to embrace the 5G life.

What to look for in a mobile hotspot

A winning mobile hotspot is compact, easy to use, and delivers fast speeds over a reliable wireless connection. You can usually get a hotspot through your phone company as part of your current cellular plan, but you can also sign up for a separate, data-only plan if there’s a particular hotspot that strikes your fancy.

Pricing and data plans

The first thing you should do is check your current cell phone carrier to see if it can provide a hotspot that will work for you. You can usually save money by adding a hotspot to your current cell phone plan instead of getting a separate plan.

Though it will probably cost you more, paying for a separate data plan does give you more flexibility when it comes to choosing a good quality mobile hotspot. It also can help you access the internet in places that your cell carrier may not provide coverage.

Network accessibility

Obviously you’re going to want a mobile hotspot that will actually work wherever you are. If you’re using it for traveling, then take a look and see if the cell carrier that provides the hotspot you want will give you proper network coverage in the areas you plan to visit. For traveling internationally, see if the carrier allows for international roaming.

You can also get a hotspot that’s approved for use in the countries you may be traveling in. Or you can save some money by using an unlocked phone or a USB dongle that has a port for a SIM card. We personally recommend the latter option, since it’s often pretty easy and cheap to get a SIM card and a prepaid data or phone plan while abroad. And there’s no better way to brush up on your foreign language skills than by haggling with a customer service agent!

Size and ease of use

If you’re going to be traveling and carrying the hotspot around, you don’t want one that’s super clunky. The smaller, the better. Also, it helps to have one with a touchscreen so you can turn it on and change the configurations without having to decode LED lights or fiddle around with a phone app.

FAQ about mobile hotspots

What is the best mobile hotspot?

The best hotspot out there is Verizon’s Inseego Jetpack MiFi 8800L—it’s fast, compact, easy to use, and comes with all the features you need to get a Wi-Fi connection on the road. However, you’ll have to be a Verizon customer to use it, and there are some other great options as well that could be better geared for specific tasks and providers.

Here’s a list of some other nifty hotspots. Click the link for any of these and it will take you to our reviews above:

How much does a mobile hotspot cost?

Hotspots cost anywhere from $59 to $650 for the device, plus the cost of a monthly data plan. Good quality 4G LTE hotspots usually run for $200 and up and will give you just what you need. 5G hotspots cost upwards of $600, but there are less of them to choose from, and they may not be worth the investment since nationwide 5G networks are still in the early stages of coming together.

How do you get a mobile hotspot?

The best way to get a mobile hotspot is to order one online through your cell phone provider. You can also buy them on Amazon, including unlocked models that will work with multiple phone companies. (If you go that route, just make sure you confirm with your phone company that whatever you get has been approved to work with the plan you have.)

Disclaimer

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Highspeedinternet.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

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Author -

Peter Holslin has spent more than a decade writing for Rolling Stone, VICE, BuzzFeed, and countless other publications. He graduated with a BA in liberal arts and journalism from New York City’s The New School University in 2008. Since then, he has roved from city to city and lived overseas, mastering his craft as an editor, staff writer, and freelancer while also acquiring ninja-like skills to address feeble Wi-Fi speeds and other internet challenges.

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has edited for HighSpeedInternet.com for three years, working with smart writers to revise everything from internet reviews to reports on your state’s favorite Netflix show. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span (buffering kills). With a degree in English and editing and five years working with online content, it’s safe to say she likes words on the internet. She is most likely to be seen wearing Birkenstocks and hanging out with a bouncy goldendoodle named Dobby, who is a literal fur angel sent to Earth.

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