Best Mobile Hotspots for 2021

A mobile hotspot provides Wi-Fi when you’re on the go. It taps into your cellular carrier’s network, providing an internet signal for smartphones, laptops, and other devices—giving you Wi-Fi access while traveling abroad or working outside the office.

Most of us nowadays would be fine using the hotspot function on our cell phones to get a little Wi-Fi in a jiffy. But cell phone hotspots also drain your battery and can only handle a few devices, so a portable Wi-Fi hotspot is better if you need a dependable, portable connection on a more regular basis.

We spent a couple weeks researching and testing out a handful of excellent mobile hotspots for your “life on the go” needs. The hotspots we highlight in this guide support many more devices than a cell phone hotspot can. They give you lots of options for security features and staying connected overseas. And they’re available through data plans from your cellular provider.

Our pick: Which mobile hotspot device 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, so if you don’t have Verizon, then you can keep reading for other excellent hotspots that work with your provider. You can simply order the hotspot and then add it as an extra line to your current cell phone plan.

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The 5 best mobile hotspot devices

Best hotspot devices

Best forProductPriceConnectivityMax devicesGet it
Best Verizon hotspotVerizon Inseego Jetpack MiFi 8800L Hotspot$193.124G LTE, dual-band 2.4GHz & 5GHz, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac15View on Amazon
Best AT&T hotspotNighthawk M1 Mobile Hotspot Router$275.924G LTE, dual-band 2.4GHz & 5GHz, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac20View on Amazon
Best budget hotspotAlcatel LINKZONE$56.174G LTE, dual-band 2.4GHz & 5GHz, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac16View on Amazon
Best 5G hotspotInseego 5G MiFi M2000$336.005G, 4G LTE, dual-band 2.4GHz & 5GHz, Wi-Fi 630View on T-Mobile
Best hotspot for international travelHuawei E8372h-153 USB Wingle$90.854G LTE, 2.4GHz, 802.11 b/g/n10View 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. Before ordering, make sure to check with your cell carrier first to ensure your 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.

What should you look for in a mobile hotspot device?

A winning mobile hotspot hits a few important targets. You want it to be compact, able to provide fast speeds to several devices at once, and on a network that gives you ample Wi-Fi coverage wherever you’re going.

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. Read our expanded section farther down on this page for more info on mobile hotspot specs and features.

Best Verizon hotspot—Inseego Jetpack MiFi 8800L

Best for Verizon customers

Price: $183.55

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

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

Best AT&T hotspot—NETGEAR Nighthawk M1 Mobile Hotspot Router

Best for AT&T customers

Price: $258.97

  • 4G LTE, simultaneous dual-band connection
  • Connects up to 20 devices
  • Ports: USB-C, Ethernet, and TS9 (for antennas)

At 8.5 ounces, NETGEAR’s Nighthawk M1 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-C 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.

Another big plus with AT&T is that you can get a great deal on data. AT&T’s best hotspot service plan hooks it up with 100 GB of data for $55 per month—it’s very rare to find hotspot plans that give you so much for such a reasonable price. To get the deal, ask customer service or look on AT&T’s website for the PREPAID data plan.

Pros

  • Lots of features
  • Dependable performance

Cons

  • Awkward controls compared to other hotspots
  • Bulky weight

Pro tip:

You can buy the Nighthawk M1 unlocked on Amazon, which means you can use it even without an AT&T cellular plan.

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.

Best budget hotspot—Alcatel LINKZONE

Best budget hotspot
Alcatel LINKZONE 2

Price: $56.17

  • 4G LTE, simultaneous dual-band connection
  • Connects up to 16 devices
  • Ports: USB-A, USB-C

The first thing you’ll notice about the Alcatel LINKZONE is the price. It’s way cheaper than both Verizon’s and AT&T’s better-known hotspot devices, making it a solid choice if you prize affordability over features. And it’s the go-to 4G LTE hotspot for T-Mobile networks, so you can use it with any T-Mobile plan.

The LINKZONE 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 comes with an excellent, removable battery that will last up to 16 hours.

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Powerful battery

Cons

  • Clunky controls
  • Limited speeds

Best 5G hotspot—T-Mobile Inseego 5G MiFi M2000

Best 5G hotspot
T-Mobile Inseego 5G MiFi M2000

Price: $336

  • Connection: 5G, 4G LTE, dual-band, Wi-Fi 6
  • Ports: USB-C
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon SDx55
  • Connects up to 30 devices

T-Mobile’s Inseego 5G MiFi M2000 is the obvious pick out of the few 5G hotspots available these days. It comes at the lowest price out of all the major 5G hotspots. It also connects up to 30 devices—way more than what you can do on a phone or 4G hotspot. And it uses Wi-Fi 6 (the latest wireless standard) to maintain a strong and consistent Wi-Fi signal for multiple users.

Just as importantly, the Inseego 5G MiFi M2000 comes with a very generous data plan, giving you 100 GB for $50 per month. That’s a great price for a lot of data.

The M2000 also comes with settings for guest networks, MAC filtering, and a security firewall—all of which you can adjust by logging in to the device from your browser. All in all, it’s an excellent piece of hardware from the leading provider in 5G speeds and availability.

Pros

  • Cheapest 5G hotspot
  • Biggest 5G network accessibility

Cons

  • No unlocked version for non–T-Mobile customers
  • Limited millimeter-wave speeds

Best hotspot for international travel—Huawei E8372h-153 USB Wingle

Best for traveling overseas

Price: $90.85

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

Amazon.com Price as of 1/13/21 10:30 MST. See full disclaimer.

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 into a wall or car socket with a USB charger. But it’s much cheaper compared to most hotspots and is simple to set up.

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

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 they often deliver faster speeds than a cell phone hotspot, connect more devices, and experience longer battery life.

Should I get a 5G hotspot?

Although 5G has a lot of potential for cellular networks, you shouldn’t get a 5G hotspot unless you’re an early adopter to tech and can’t resist trying one out. There are a limited number of 5G hotspot models available right now and they cost a ton more than 4G LTE hotspots. And since 5G networks are still relatively small, you won’t get much benefit out of them.

Pro tip:

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

Mobile hotspot specs and features

Pricing and data plans

When you’re shopping for a hotspot, check with 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 gives you more flexibility, letting you choose from a wider variety of hotspots. Depending on the provider, a separate data plan also may give you access the internet in places that your cell carrier doesn’t have provide coverage.

Pro tip:

Looking for a wicked hotspot data deal? Read our guide to the best hotspot data plans for details on pricing, speeds, and data caps.

Network accessibility

If you’re using a hotspot for traveling, take a look and see if your hotspot gives you network coverage in the areas you plan to visit. For traveling internationally, see if the carrier allows for international roaming.

You can 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 easy and cheap to get a SIM card and a prepaid data or phone plan while abroad.

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 with ease.

Our verdict—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. Ust keep in mind that you’ll have to be a Verizon customer to use it.

View Inseego Jetpack on Amazon

Here’s a list of some other excellent hotspots if you have a different cellular plan. Click the link for any of these and it will take you to our reviews above:

Search to see what internet you can get in your area.

FAQ about mobile hotspot devices

How much does a mobile hotspot cost?

Hotspots cost anywhere from $59 to $400 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 much more, but there are fewer of them to choose from. And they might 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.)

Author -

Peter Holslin has more than a decade of experience working as a writer and freelance journalist. He graduated with a BA in liberal arts and journalism from New York City’s The New School University in 2008 and went on to contribute to publications like Rolling Stone, VICE, BuzzFeed, and countless others. At HighSpeedInternet.com, he focuses on covering 5G, nerding out about frequency bands and virtual RAN, and producing reviews on emerging services like 5G home internet. He also writes about internet providers and packages, hotspots, VPNs, and Wi-Fi troubleshooting.

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for HighSpeedInternet.com for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.

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