As good as the best mobile ports, you may be wondering why you need them. After all, if you’re carrying a smartphone – and you’re likely to be – you already have a mobile access point in your pocket. Why do you need an independent hotspot device? The fact is that while a phone can be perfectly adequate as an access point for occasional use, there are many situations where an independent access point makes perfect sense. Your phone is usually busy doing other things – making phone calls, sending and receive emails, following Slack, Twitter, or the latest news – but also requires access to a cellular network.
If you don’t want a possible outage or bandwidth restrictions on your phone’s access point, an independent access point can provide additional connectivity. And if this smartphone (Here is the Best Smartphone for you.) is your personal device, you may not want to use cellular data allocation for any other purpose other than personal use. Therefore, the mobile access point is a very important tool for frequent business travelers, at least once again when they are able to move freely around the world.
In all these situations, it’s convenient to have a mobile access point available, whether you’re stuck somewhere with dodgy Wi-Fi or you can finally get out and move again. That’s why it’s a good idea to choose one of the best mobile access points now, so you can stay connected wherever you are. Some access points even offer 5G coverage if you want to take advantage of faster download speeds.
Here’s a look at the best options for a mobile access point.
What are the best mobile hotspots?
For times when a standalone mobile access point is what you need to stay connected, the Jetpack 8800L is the best access point if you want to connect to Verizon’s network. Based on online searches and reviews, this mobile access point works well and is easy to transport. The best access point for AT-T customers is the Nighthawk LTE mobile access point, while Sprint subscribers would be well placed to turn to Inseego’s MiFi 8000.
In the event that you live in a zone secured by an administrator’s 5G organization, Verizon now sells the Inseego MiFi M2100 5G UW while AT-T offers the Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot Pro (mobile hotspots are usually offered by wireless carriers, and unless you want to create an account with a new wireless service provider, it’s usually best to add a data line for an access point with your current carrier. Our recommendations, like the ones above, note which access point works with which mobile operator.
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Meanwhile, a hotspot can also be useful if you travel extensively to other countries and want a transparent way to connect to local cellular networks. The best mobile access point for this use case is the Roaming Man G3, which can keep you connected pretty much anywhere in the world. Another alternative, the Skyroam Solis Lite, also offers travel coverage and a competitive daily rental rate if you prefer not to buy a hotspot.
The best mobile hotspots right now
Best mobile hotspot for Verizon
Price: $199.99 | Screen size: 2.4-inch touchscreen | Connectivity: LTE, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac | Rated battery life: Up to 24 hours | Size: 4.3 x 2.6 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 5.4 ounces
The Jetpack 8800L is the successor to the Novatel Jetpack MiFi 7730L, which Verizon has previously described as The Wirecutter’s best hotspot. The 8800L uses a new Qualcomm modem that can collect signals up to five operators; this means you’ll probably have a great connection wherever you are, and it supports a wide range of LTE bands and supports UTMS 3G.
Compatible with Verizon’s network, the Jetpack 880L can handle international roaming and supports connections for up to 15 Wi-Fi enabled devices, such as laptops. A two-year contract with Verizon would reduce the cost of the Jetpack 8800L to $99.
Nighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot
Price: $250 | Screen size: 1.4-inch color | Connectivity: LTE, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac | Rated battery life: Up to 24 hours | Size: 4.1 x 4.1 x 0.75 inches | Weight: 8.5 ounces
Nighthawk LTE is the best access point for AT-T. It has a screen, but it’s not a touchscreen. You can change configuration options, but they need to be replaced through a web browser using a device connected to a public access point.
In practice, critics have found that Nighthawk LTE does not achieve consistent download speeds higher than 40 Mbps, which is lower than at-t specifications announced. However, this AT-T-compliant access point offers exceptional battery life with one day’s use. You also get Ethernet and USB connectors on Nighthawk LTE and can upgrade its internal storage to 512MB. This access point can support up to 20 devices.
Sign up for a 30-month deal with AT-T and you can pay Nighthawk LTE in installments of $8.34 per month.
MiFi 8000 Mobile Hotspot
Price: $250 | Screen size: 2.4-inch color touchscreen | Connectivity: LTE, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac | Rated battery life: Up to 24 hours | Size: 4.3 x 2.6 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 5.4 ounces
Although Sprint has been absorbed by T-Mobile, existing Sprint customers can still have an access point running on that operator’s network. Produced by Inseego, Sprint’s best hotspot promises gigabit speeds and 3 hours of charging time. Users can also return to the MiFi 8000 as a replacement battery charger for your phone or tablet with the appropriate cables.
The MiFi 8000 can also provide modem access by connecting directly to your computer via USB. You can also connect to 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands at the same time for better quality and connection speed.
With a 24-month deal, you can return the MiFi 8000 for $2.50 per month.
Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot Pro
Price: $509 | Screen Size: 2.4-inch color touchscreen | Connectivity: 5G, LTE, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac | Rated Battery Life: Up to 8 hours of use, 11.3 hours of standby | Size: 4.14 x 4.14 x 0.85 inches | Weight: 8.64 ounces
The switch was launched on its national network earlier this year and is now partnering with Netgear to develop a mobile access point that can connect to these higher speeds. Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot Pro will offer you a 5G connection wherever AT-T’s national coverage reaches – 395 markets currently covering about 205 million people. In 35 cities where AT-T launches 5G Plus coverage, you’ll get even faster download speeds. However, you’ll need a data plan that includes 5G coverage, which means one of the operator’s unlimited plans.
You can interface up to 32 Wi-Fi gadgets to the Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot Pro utilizing the gadget’s 2.4-inch touchscreen. The access point is a Wi-Fi 6 device, meaning it can distribute all this wireless traffic more efficiently. And the 5,040 mAh battery allows you to enjoy up to 8 hours of use, according to the AT-T.
If you travel a lot in areas served by AT’s 5G mobile network, this is one of the best options for a 5G mobile access point.
Inseego MiFi M2100 5G UW mobile hotspot
Price: $399 | Screen Size: 2.4-inch color touchscreen | Connectivity: 5G, LTE, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac | Rated Battery Life: Up to 24 hours | Size: 5.9 x 2.8 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 7.4 ounces
Verizon’s 5G network now relies on mmWave-based technology in three dozen cities, but that won’t always apply as the operator expands its network. As a result, verizon’s Inseego 5G MiFi M1000 disappeared, replaced by the Inseego 5G MiFi M2000.
Inseego’s new Access Point not only works with all types of 5G, but also supports dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS), where 5G connections can work across the 4G spectrum. This is worth considering because Verizon plans to use its DSS to expand its 5G coverage.
Verizon says you can connect up to 30 devices to the Inseego 5G MiFi M2000 Wi-Fi 6, 4 times the normal data rate for each user. Verizon promises full-time use of the 3500 mAh removable battery from access points, while the optional 8500 mAh battery offers even more charging.
Considerations when purchasing a mobile access point
Determine if you need it before shopping for a mobile access point. If your mobile phone plan contains LTE (best LTE Devices) be sufficient to stay connected. (assuming you don’t plan to use more data than the allocated hotspot amount). If your mobile plan only allows 3G access point speeds or doesn’t support access point data at all, you’ll want to think of a separate device.
After reviewing the network you’ll use – if you don’t want separate bills for cellular connectivity, you’ll probably want to stay connected to the carrier that already provides your smartphone service – make sure you know how many devices can connect to the mobile access point. And if that limit meets your needs.
You’ll also want to pay attention to the size and weight of the mobile access point, to make sure it’s something you can easily carry. How you plan to use hotspot – whether it’s for international travel or just having a backup connection on the go – is another consideration because some access points are specifically designed for use abroad.
The mobile ports we’ve reviewed typically range from $200 to $250 if they offer an LTE connection. 5G hotspots are currently about three times more expensive and make questionable choices unless you spend a lot of time in areas where 5G coverage is sufficient.
If you plan to purchase an access point from your existing cellular service provider, you should expect to pay $10-15 a month for additional cellular connectivity and also device fees. If you get a new service with a new provider, you can expect to pay about $60 per month for 10 GB of data.