Although we live in a day and age where almost everyone has a phone in their pocket that's capable of becoming a mobile hotspot, if you've ever used that feature on your phone, you've likely noticed it's not that good. It may be fine for sending the occasional email or finishing up a school project, but if you're serious about working from a remote location, your phone likely won't cut it.
Dedicated mobile hotspots are a great way to keep connected to the office or to make sure you can complete all the video calls to far away relatives even when you're on the road. Here are my favorite mobile hotspots you can get for some of the U.S. carriers.
Best Overall Verizon Hotspot
Jetpack MiFi 7730L
The Verizon Jetpack MiFi 7730L is the best Verizon hotspot thanks to its fast preformance speeds and 14-hour battery life.
The large and bright screen allows you to see all the pertinent information, like who's using the network, your current reception level, and even lets you access the menu. Plus, the Jetpack MiFi 7730L even has a USB-C outlet that's capable of charging up your phone while you're on the go should you need a top-up.
The Wirecutter put the Verizon Jetpack MiFi 7730L through the paces and tested it in myltiple cities across the U.S. and were very impressed with how well it preformed.
"In our tests, the 7730L connected instantly almost all the time, aside from inconsistent performance in the crowded Austin Convention Center during South by Southwest—an unfriendly environment for wireless connectivity in general. Download speeds maxed out at 138.7 Mbps in Baltimore but averaged 59 Mbps over the test period, including some of those dreadful results in Austin. Uploads averaged 16 Mbps."
Not only can you access the internet with your devices, the Jetpack MiFi 7730L's 802.11ac Wi-Fi is rated to handle up to 15 devices, meaning if you need to, you can help a friend or two.
The Jetpack MiFi 7730L is $200 outright, but you can get it through Verizon on a 2-year contract for $99.
Best Budget Verizon Hotspot
Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot AC791L
Verizon's Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot AC791L is a slightly older mobile hotspot but has many of the same great features that can be found on the newer Jetpack MiFi 7730L.
The screen allows you to see all the pertinent information, like who is using the network and your current reception level but relies on physical buttons rather than a touchscreen to navigate through the menu and settings. Don't forget, the Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot AC791L has the same USB-C port that capable of charging up your phone while you're on the go, meaning it can help your phone stay alive a couple of extra hours too.
PCMag tested the Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot AC791L in downtown Manhattan and the battery life is what surprised them the most.
"Battery life is the real reason to get the AC791L. I connected a phone to the hotspot, making sure the phone itself wasn't connected to any network other than the hotspot. I then continuously streamed a YouTube video over LTE until the hotspot's battery died. I clocked 21 hours and 1 minute of runtime, which is the longest hotspot battery result we've seen."
If you are going to pick up the Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot AC791L, get it on Amazon for $99 outright. You can figure out the plan with Verizon after you already have the device.
Best Overall AT&T Hotspot
Nighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot Router
If you're already an AT&T customer, and you're looking for a mobile hotspot, the Nighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot Router is your best option.
When it comes to sharing the wealth, the Nighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot Router is second to none, allowing you to connect up to 20 devices and it even has an Ethernet port allowing you to connect via a cable if you want a stronger connection. Plus, its even capable with AT&T's 5G network.
In the Wirecutter's testing the speed of the Nighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot Router was a little more inconsistant across the country, but still very strong.
"Although Austin is among AT&T's first two dozen markets to get its "5G Evolution" upgrade, tests at three different spots (the convention center downtown, a house about a mile to its east, and another house two miles south) didn't result in downloads any faster than 37.08 Mbps (most of these tests happened early in the morning or late at night, when the network was less likely to be busy). The Nighthawk's single best performance came not in Austin but in Greenbelt, Maryland, where it hit 42.28 Mbps."
The good news is the Nighthawk will roughly last you about 22 hours between charges, which is more than enough to keep your mobile office up and running through a heavy workday.
You can pick up the Nighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot Router for $200 if you buy it outright, or for a monthly cost of about $10 depending on the plan you get for AT&T.
Best Budget AT&T Hotspot
Netgear Unite Mobile Hotspot
If you don't need to connect as many devices, and you're already on the AT&T network, you can save a little cash by getting the Netgear Unite Mobile Hotspot.
The Netgear Unite can connect up to ten devices at once to the internet and only has enough battery power for about 10 hours of use; however, you can buy the device outright for only $59.99. Add-on the cost of a plan os AT&T and you're still looking at saving a bit of moolah, that buying the newest model.
PCMag did a real world speed test, and came back pleased with the performance for the value.
"The Unite supports 802.11b/g/n devices and I was able to easily connect a laptop running Windows 8 and a few different smartphones—you can connect up to 10 devices at a time. I tested all over New York City and saw average speeds of 6Mbps down and 3Mbps up."
Of course, actual speeds will vary depending on many factors, but it's important to note that while the Netgear Unite Mobile Hotspot won't enable you to do complex work on-the-go, it's a very reliable way of getting minor office work or internet browsing down.
Which are your favorites?
Let us know in the comments down below!
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