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What is a Mobile Hotspot Device?

With the technology rapidly evolving, a wireless connection that ensures higher portability is becoming the preferred mode of operation. In addition, devices that can share cellular networks are also becoming an attractive option. Which means the popularity of mobile hotspots is skyrocketing, and if you’re wondering what that’s all about, we’re here to answer the main question. What is a mobile hotspot?

In this guide, we’ll explain what mobile hotspot devices are, how they work, who needs them, and whether they can replace regular home routers. We’ll also list the advantages of portable hotspots as compared to smartphone tethering and recommend some of the best device and data plan options in the industry.

What Is a Mobile Hotspot Device?

White Hotspot wood table

Hotspots are devices that use a cellular network connection, such as 4G or LTE, to provide Internet access to other devices via Wi-Fi. In other words, a hotspot is a wireless bridge between the connected device and the cellular network. A hotspot is similar to a router, the only difference being that the former doesn’t require a physical broadband connection.

Mobile hotspots are extremely compact – most of them can easily fit in a pocket. They can provide internet access to multiple devices wire-free and are relatively safe in terms of data privacy. The chance of being infected with a virus with a personal mobile hotspot is significantly lower than when you’re using a public network.

Such devices can also help you to prevent using all your mobile data and battery since the other devices connect with one primary source. Most importantly, a mobile hotspot device guarantees that you’ll always have Internet access, no matter where you go.

The most popular example of a mobile hotspot is a smartphone. Almost every modern smartphone features this function, though this option is far from perfect if you use a hotspot frequently. Most specially designated mobile hotspots to require a SIM card (just like smartphones) to connect to a cellular network.

But these designated devices have certain advantages compared to smartphones, which we’ll explore in detail further in this article.

Who Needs a Mobile Hotspot Device?

girl on grass with laptop

People who spend most of their time on their devices at home and only need a public network occasionally probably don’t need a mobile hotspot. Of course, it’s a convenient and safe way to ensure a stable Internet connection wherever you go. But most smartphones can do the job well enough for a regular user.

But for business travelers (and any other sort of travelers, to be fair), mobile hotspots are a great idea, perhaps even a necessity. Public Wi-Fi in airports, for instance, can easily allow your device to be compromised.

Furthermore, a hotspot mode is one of the most battery-consuming features on your smartphone. And if you need to use this feature for extended periods of time, your phone bills may skyrocket. And we haven’t mentioned the roaming charges you may incur when you travel abroad.

All these issues can be resolved by using a portable hotspot device. If you’re a business owner, investing in mobile hotspot devices for your employees may be extremely beneficial.

Another potential beneficiary of the use of portable hotspot users as owners of mobile homes. Connecting to broadband in such conditions is, in most cases, impossible. With a wireless Wi-Fi router, you can have internet access even in the woods – so long as the cellular network reaches that area, of course.

However, mobile hotspots aren’t solely for travelers. They may be an unnecessary expense if you already own a router, but if you don’t, such a device can actually replace your home internet service. In the next section, we’ll review the pros and cons of using portable hotspots at home.

Can Mobile Hotspot Device Replace Home Internet?

Wifi Router

They can depending usage, the simple answer is yet. Just like regular wired routers, mobile hotspots can handle multiple devices at the same time and provide a stable and fast internet connection. They’re suitable both for people who live alone and large families, but there are a couple of points you should consider.

The biggest difference between a home router and a portable hotspot is the data limit. Most home internet plans allow you to use large, often unlimited amounts of data (about 1TB).

A mobile hotspot, on the other hand, is typically limited to 20-100GB a month. That’s sufficient for casual browsing. But if you’re a gamer or frequently download large files, this may not be enough. Some providers, however, offer unlimited data plans.

Users may encounter another problematic issue – data speed. Wired routers can provide broadband internet that ensures 1000Mbps/s speed. Modern portable hotspots can theoretically ensure up to 100 Mbps/s speed, but in practice, the figures may be twice as low. It’s still a high enough speed for most people, though, and the development of 5G is likely to change the situation. Thus, investing in an advanced portable hotspot that can take advantage of a 5G network is a smart idea.

Which is more cost effective?

Naturally, the value of any purchase is based on the balance between price and quality. Comparing home routers and portable hotspots may not be accurate due to different features. But, in fact, the latter may save you a lot of money.

The current price of broadband internet in the U.S. may range anywhere between $35 and $100 per month. This number doesn’t include the cost of hardware, installation, and maintenance. Meanwhile, a mobile hotspot can cost half as much for the same amount of data and is much more user-friendly. No special installation or maintenance is required.

A mobile hotspot can replace your home Internet if you don’t need an extremely high connection speed. Meanwhile, the monthly data limit depends on the provider and plan you choose, rather than the device itself. Thus, if you manage to find a suitable plan, this issue is no longer relevant. Overall, it’s a cheaper and easier to use a hotspot option than a wired router. Furthermore, you can bring the hotspot along when you travel to additionally save on mobile data.

Mobile Hotspot Device vs. Tethering

Person on laptop

Tethering is a process of sharing a smartphone’s cellular internet connection via Wi-Fi with another device. It’s a simple way of providing internet access on the go that’s good enough for most casual users. However, portable hotspot devices have certain benefits over to mobile tethering, such as:

  • Faster and more reliable Internet connection.
  • The ability to support more devices simultaneously. Most smartphones noticeably slow down data speed when several devices are connected. Mobile hotspots ensure stable and equal data speed to all devices.
  • Safer connection. Smartphones are more vulnerable to hacker attacks and viruses, even if you use a cellular network. A mobile hotspot will always keep your sensitive data private.
  • Extended battery life. Hotspots don’t feature large, bright displays and battery-draining advanced functions like smartphones, so their battery life is longer than that of most smartphones. Plus, your phone will suffer less wear and tear if you use a specially dedicated device for internet access instead of relying on mobile tethering.
  • With a dedicated hotspot device, you aren’t spending your mobile data and won’t get an enormous phone bill, especially if traveling abroad.

The above-mentioned pros perhaps aren’t surprising. Portable hotspots are specifically dedicated to providing internet access as opposed to smartphones that, while multi-purpose devices, aren’t intended to serve as a base for internet use. But for this reason, tethering is better for people who only use mobile data occasionally. There’s no need to carry around an additional device and spend money on a data plan that you won’t use.

Reasons to Buy an Unlocked Hotspot Device

man typing desk

One of the main advantages of a portable hotspot compared to wired routers or mobile tethering is lower cost. However, some mobile hotspot devices are locked to a specific data provider; others can be freely used with any data plan.

If you don’t have freedom in choosing the most adequately priced data plan, a mobile hotspot may end up costing the same or even more than its alternatives. Although locked mobile hotspots often cost less than unlocked options, you should consider the long-term savings.

Another reason unlocked portable hotspots are better than locked devices is the quality of the network. Some data providers may offer faster or more reliable internet connections than others. But if your hotspot device is locked, you may end up with a low-quality internet connection without any chance of upgrading it.

We recommend purchasing an unlocked device to ensure that you have full control over your data speed, limits, and cost.

Top 7 Unlocked Hotspot Devices in the Industry

1.Netgear NightHawk

Netgear Nighthawk Hotspot Tilted Front View

Netgear NightHawk is an advanced mobile hotspot supporting LTE cellular connection. It’s capable of providing stable internet for to up to 20 devices simultaneously during a 24-hour period. Furthermore, it’s one of the first mobile hotspots that can provide a downloading speed of up to 1Gbps. It features a bright display to provide users with all the necessary information. Last, but not least, the device easily fits in a pocket, thanks to the compact size and flat design.

2.Netgear Unite Express 2

Netgear Unite Express 2 Tilted Front View

Netgear Unite Express 2 is a much cheaper option than Netgear NightHawk, though no less appealing. It supports a 4G LTE cellular network and allows the connection of up to 15 devices at once. The 2930mAh removable battery with fast charging function won’t let you down during the whole day.

3.Netgear Unite Pro

Netgear Unite Pro Tilted Front View

Netgear Unite Pro can provide internet access for to up to 15 devices at once during a 16-hour span. The device supports a 4G LTE cellular network. It features a large 2.4-inch display for easier information readability and a compact, lightweight body. Most importantly, Netgear Unite Pro has a built-in VPN and guest support for one-time access.

4.ZTE Falcon

ZTE Falcon Hotspot Front View

ZTE Falcon is among the most affordable mobile hotspot devices on the market. It supports a 4G LTE network and up to 10 connected devices simultaneously. A 2000mAh battery and a compact size make this portable hotspot a perfect companion for any traveler.

5.ZTE MF820B

ZTE MF820B Hotspot Front View

If you’re only using a mobile hotspot for one device – for instance, a laptop – you’ll likely appreciate this simple and affordable option. No complicated installation is required – plug ZTE MF820B into your USB port, and you’re ready to use 4G LTE internet with a download speed of up to 100Mbps.

6.ZTE Velocity 2

ZTE Velocity 2 supports a 4G LTE cellular network connection and has 10-hour battery life. Its 2.4-inch display ensures that you can easily read all the necessary information. However, the device remains compact and lightweight so that you can easily carry it around.

7.Novatel MiFi 2

Novatel MiFi 2 Hotspot Front View

Novatel MiFi 2 provides a stable signal even at a 30-feet. You can connect up to 10 devices simultaneously. A removable 2900mAh battery ensures 11 hours of steady work. The device features a Micro-SD memory card slot and a large, 2.8-inch display.

Best Hotspot Device Plans in the USA

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Once you’ve chosen the right mobile hotspot device to fit all your needs, you need to find a suitable data plan for an adequate price. This may be overwhelming due to the wide range of available data providers, though. To help you find the best data plan, we’ve summarized some of the best offerings on the market below:

  • Visible Unlimited Data Plan – $40/month with an unlimited amount of data. It’s one of the most affordable data plans on the market, though the internet speed is limited to 5 Mbps and one tethered device at a time. Visible Unlimited is a perfect plan for casual Internet users.
  • Verizon Wireless – Plan pricing varies depending on the speed and amount of data required. 5G Internet is available starting at $85/month.
  • AT&T- $50/month for 100GB of data with 5G connections for up to four lines. Additionally, unlimited calls and SMS within the U.S., Mexico, and Canada are included. This makes AT&T plans the perfect option for business travelers.

A Smart Investment for Individual and Business Use

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Hopefully, our guide has helped you determine whether you need a dedicated mobile hotspot device and answered all your questions. A portable internet connection is a great idea both for individual and business use. If you’re a business owner and wish to make a wise investment in mobile hotspot devices, contact our parent company Energy Electronics. We guarantee the best offers on bulk orders and can consult you on selecting the best suitable device for your needs. Follow the link for more information on bulk orders.

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