The 6 Best Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspots to Buy in 2017

The easiest way to stay connected while on-the-go

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Today the Internet is our lifeline, so if we're not connected to it even when we're on-the-go, we feel like we're missing out. Thankfully, for road warriors and soccer moms alike, the advent of Wi-Fi mobile hotspots has given us the ability to stay connected without utilizing our smartphone battery life, data or network. But how do you know which one is the best? We’ve narrowed down the top-rated mobile hotspot choices for any and all who might find themselves needing to keep with e-mail and Facebook while on the road.

Verizon Jetpack AC79IL
Courtesy of Verizonwireless.com

Boasting 20 hours of battery life and the ability to connect 15 devices via WiFi signal at once, Verizon’s Jetpack AC79IL is the best choice for a mobile hotspot. Priced at around $50 with a two-year contract and around $200 retail, the pairing of Verizon’s superb nationwide network is hard to ignore when you need fast data on your laptop or tablet.  Add in the extra bonus of doubling as a charger for your smartphone on-the-go and you’ve got our best overall choice for mobile hotspots. Paired with Verizon’s network, data plans can range from 4GB for $30 up to 12GB for $70. Additionally, the Jetpack is also labeled as a world device so it’s capable of attaching itself to networks in more than 200 countries.

There’s nothing fancy about the 5.8-ounce pocket-sized design and the 1.77-inch TFT LCD offers enough information to be usable. The first Verizon hotspot to support LTE advanced, a faster version of the more traditional LTE network, this is handily the fastest mobile hotspot in Verizon’s arsenal. You’ll have connection access over 802.11ac via 2.4 or 5GHz with WPA2 encryption. Download speeds will be heavily dependent on the strength of Verizon’s network in your area, alongside other environmental factors that can play a role. When you consider its long battery life, fast performance thanks to LTE Advanced and strong world-wide coverage, the Jetpack is hands-down the mobile hotspot to beat. More »

Offering one of the best ways to get onto Verizon’s fast LTE network, the Jetpack MiFi 7730L offers a category nine LTE modem along with global LTE roaming. The interface is clean with a brand-new refresh over earlier Novatel models, one that’s easier to use and makes for managing passwords or settings far easier than ever before. Whether it’s business or personal, Novatel’s access to Verizon’s LTE advanced network offers 50 percent faster peak speeds in more than 450 cities nationwide.

With dual Wi-Fi on-board, performance and security are both increased and enhanced for peace of mind and to help keep prying eyes off your network. Inside the Jetpack is a 4400mAh battery that allows up to 24 hours of network time before charging via the included USB port. Fortunately, the addition of Quick Charge technology powers up the Novatel faster than any other Verizon mobile hotspot. Additionally, the Jetpack adds MiFi shared functionality for utilizing the device as a mass storage unit, including private file sharing. Beyond features, the 5.38-ounce hotspot works in over 200 countries around the world, thanks to a full spread of networks and frequencies.

Whether you’re a globe-trotting business person or just taking a vacation, the GlocalMe G3 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot is the best way to stay connected while seeing the world. Powered by the company’s Cloud SIM technology, travelers can get online anywhere in the world using a local SIM card in more than 100 countries overall. With 50Mbps max upload speed and 150Mbps download speed, the G3 isn’t the fastest hotspot around, but those speeds are more than good enough to stay in touch with family, read e-mail and browse the Web. Capable of connecting up to five devices at a time, sharing connectivity with friends or family has never been easier.

While the device can be used with any local SIM card, GlocalMe entices you to utilize its own networks with 1GB of free data that can be used anywhere the device has a signal. Helping you stay connected is a built-in 5350mAh battery that provides up to 15 hours of total battery (it takes 4.5 hours to re-charge from zero to full). Beyond battery life, the G3 works in Asia, Europe, North America, South America and Oceania, as well as anywhere in Africa. GlocalMe even adds their own data packages with competitive pricing to help avoid the need to purchase local SIM cards with pay-as-you-go plans that will help avoid wasting data.

While there’s plenty of support for U.S.-based carriers to work internationally, charges can add up very quickly. Enter Skyroam and lose the hassle of constant worry that you’ll return from a trip overseas to a bill that will have your jaw on the floor. Unlimited data? Check. Simple setup? Check. Essentially, you’ll receive 3G speeds while traveling in any of the 100+ countries supported, including those in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas. The unit offers connection for up to five devices at one time, up to eight hours of battery life and currently includes three free unlimited day passes (a $30 value; after that it's $10 per day). Activation is simple, just take it out, turn it on and connect to the local contracted carrier as you travel from country to country.

Still, there are some caveats, as you’ll be limited to HSPA+ 3G speeds, which means no LTE (4G) support. Fortunately, for the daily pricing that’s a compromise we’ll make, begrudgingly. It’s true that your own data roaming plan with your U.S.-based carrier could offer higher speeds but that will come at a cost, and in some cases a much, much higher cost. The main caveat may be that after 350MB of high-speed data in any 24-hour period, you’ll be limited to a lighter, far slower 2G network. While grabbing email, checking Facebook and WiFi calling is tolerable over 2G, it’s definitely not something you’d want to rely on for downloading or uploading large spreadsheets.

You can also forget Netflix, YouTube or other streaming services – there’s no optimization here for that, which is pretty par for the course with most dedicated international hotspots. Alternatives like Keepgo will only offer you 1GB of data upfront, but refilling the device costs as little as $33 per GB. Once you consider that as the alternative, the Skyroam begins to look pretty great. That’s not say the daily $10 fee is inexpensive but the advantages of using it when you need it and only paying when you do outweighs the unknown cost of the competition.

Netgear's Unite Explore 815S 4G LTE rugged hotspot is a superb choice for data-only users who want fast performance, good battery life and the ability to use it on any network they choose. Capable of connecting up to 15 devices at once, the former AT&T unlocked device works with any data SIM card worldwide and has an IP65 rating to help protect against light water intrusion and dust.

Measuring 4.5 x 2.8 x 0.8 inches and weighing 6.3 ounces, the 2.4-inch 320 x 240 touchscreen display helps you keep tabs on network performance. The USB 3.0 charging port doubles as a USB modem and can charge the hotspot from zero to full. Speaking of battery life, the Unite Explore has a 4340mAh battery that lasts for nearly 22 hours of continuous use.

Beyond battery, network connectivity is front and center (it covers a host of LTE, HSPA+ and 3G frequencies), so you'll get connected nearly anywhere in the world, including Europe and most of Asia. With an unlocked device, you’re not dependent on AT&T for network connectivity or rate plans, so you have the option to pick up local SIM cards and pay for better pricing overall while utilizing local cellular networks for data access. For maintaining the best signal, the Unite allows you to switch between either 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands or utilize both for the best possible signal. The Unite adds OpenDNS support for content filtering, VPN passthrough and a range of about 70 to 80 feet of Wi-Fi range.

If you’re the traveling type and consistently find yourself moving country to country, sometimes you need a device that’s just as free-spirited as you are. Huawei’s E5770 is a premium unlocked WiFi mobile hotspot that’s available in both black and white. We’ll get the lone caveat out of the way and recognize that while this device is unlocked, it doesn’t support the 700MHz band in the United States. Now, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to use it stateside, but it does mean you won’t be able to take advantage of some of the best in-building coverage and fastest total speeds. That being said, there are plenty of other options on this list that are perfect for local use here at home.

The 5,200mAh battery lasts as long as 20 hours while connecting up to 10 simultaneous users. Aside from its sharp edges and good looks, the Huawei doubles as a power supply for other devices, including smartphones, tablets, music players and more via a USB connection. The real benefit with this unlocked device is the frequencies it does support. Overall, you should find more than enough connectivity options with the E5770 to justify its premium price tag. With a 4.5 out of 5-star rating on Amazon, there’s plenty of positive talk about its overall battery life, speedy connection and good looks. There’s no question the lack of 700 band accessibility is a disappointment, but the opportunity to swap SIMs on a whim as you move from country to country is a fair tradeoff.

As a key benefit here at home, it can double as a wireless range extender in your home or office. If you have a hard time with your main router reaching certain areas of the house, plugging the E5770 via Ethernet cable will help you boost your WiFi signal, no SIM or charges required. It’s a great way to repurpose this device when not in use for trips abroad.

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