The 6 Best Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspots to Buy in 2018

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.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Verizon Wireless Franklin Ellipsis Jetpack MHS900L

It’s tough to avoid the fact that Verizon has a hold on the mobile hotspot market — their MiFi hotspots are trusted sources of internet on the go. But, their top-tier models have gotten a little expensive for their reliability, so our nod here goes to their Jetpack line, specifically the 900L as it offers good, prepaid service for less.

First off, the network is reliable, as Verizon offers some of the most seamless coverage on a national scale. The hotspot connects via Verizon Prepaid 4G LTE, so you won’t need to worry about another monthly fee, and it’ll give you fast, reliable speeds. Like other hotspots, it lets you set up a Wi-Fi network, and if you have the bandwidth in your current reception area, you’ll be able to easily connect up to 8 devices including laptops, phones, and tablets. The device's 2,100 mAh battery that Verizon delivers 10 hours of use on a single charge. The indicator screen doesn’t give you a ton of details, but it’s clear, and with such a small form factor, it really is the best option for the price. 

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Boost Mobile ZTE Warp Connect

Since Boost Mobile's network is more limited than competitors like Verizon, we couldn’t necessarily give the brand's Warp Connect the top spot on the list. But, because Boost isn’t a top-tier carrier, that means you can get a great, reliable mobile hotspot for an even better price. The Warp Connect works via 4G LTE anywhere there’s a Boost tower — which is more common than you’d think — so speeds are adequate. The device connects via the standard 802.11 wireless protocol​ and performs just like a home-based wireless router. You can hook up as many as 10 devices to the network, too, so it really acts as a central hub. There’s a 2,300 mAh battery built-in, and while Boost isn’t advertising a length of browse time, all indications point to a decent life on a single charge. It’s lightweight and sleek, with bright indicator lights to show your connection stability and power status. Overall, it’s a great option if you’re looking to save some cash. 

Best International: GlocalMe G3 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot

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.

Runner-Up, Best International: Skyroam

Skyroam
Courtesy of Amazon.com

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.

Best Data Only: Netgear Unite Explore 815S 4G LTE

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.

Best Unlocked: KuWFi 4G LTE Unlocked Hotspot

With its somewhat childish logos, white color, and bright screen the KuWFi may seem like a quirky little device, but for well under $100, it's an exceptionally versatile hotspot that offers enviable browse speeds. The KuWFi is compatible with a bunch of different SIM cards; it’ll accept US SIMs including 4G LTE Sprint 2500 MHz, Redzone Wireless, SpeedConnect, U.S Cellular, and AT&T — so it gives you plenty of options if you’re looking for an unlocked connection.

It connects via 802.11 offering peak speeds of 150 Mbps, making its performance comparable to that of an entry-level, at-home router. Plus, you can connect up to 10 devices at the same time, so it’ll feel just like you’re at home in that way, too. (Though it’s important to note that the more devices you connect, the less bandwidth you’ll have for each.) The hotspot is also a great travel companion; at 1.3 pounds and sporting a super-slim profile, it’ll slide into a purse or backpack no problem.