The 4G and 5G mobile hotspots on this page are basically battery-powered modem routers that use a SIM card similar to the one you find in your smartphone. It connects to the internet via cellular data, and broadcasts a secure Wi-Fi network that you can connect your devices up to.
As with smartphone SIM cards, you’ll need a data contract and pay for the service, which can either be a monthly rolling contract, or you can choose a pay-as-you-go SIM, which can be a more affordable choice if you only need to use these devices sporadically.
You don’t have to worry about internet speeds, either as 4G data is impressively fast, as long as you’re in an area with decent network coverage. This means you’ll be able to browse the internet as if you were connected to a broadband connection. It means it will also often be faster than free or shared Wi-Fi spots, which usually have data limits and a lot of traffic to deal with.
This year has already seen much wider coverage and support for 5G, which has the potential to offer network speeds that are comparable to broadband internet.
So fast, in fact, that a good 5G mobile hotspot could even replace your broadband connection in the future. 5G is the latest generation of mobile internet, offering speeds that are far faster than 4G data connections. While 5G in the UK is in its infancy, there are not currently many 5G mobile hotspots, but as more become available they’ll be included in this list – as long as they are good enough.
Some network operators will also upgrade your 4G contract to a 5G one for no additional cost. If you rely on a mobile data connection for working out and about, upgrading to 5G, and getting one of the best 5G mobile hotspots, could really improve your productivity.
Best mobile hotspots
If you’re a Verizon customer who can get the company’s 5G network, then the Inseego 5G MiFi M1000 is the best 5G hotspot for you. It offers dual-band Wi-Fi support, and also includes USB-C and Ethernet tethering for devices which require a wired connection. The battery life is large enough to power you throughout the day, and it charges quickly as well. The only issue is that while this is great for Verizon customers, if you’re not with the network, or you live outside the US, then this isn’t going to be the right choice for you – so check out our other picks below.
The HTC 5G Hub is currently the best 5G mobile hotspot money can buy. Sure, there’s not a huge amount of competition out there at the moment, as 5G is still relatively new, but HTC has come out of the gate with a winner. EE, the UK’s biggest network provider, is offering data subscriptions with this hotspot.
It’s not cheap – you pay £100 upfront and then £50 a month for 50GB of data – but you are getting a very accomplished bit of kit. It can handle up to 20 wireless devices connected at once, which should be enough for most households, and an Ethernet port for wired devices as well. A powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor powers the device, and there’s a 5-inch HD touchscreen that gives you all the information you need to keep an eye on your 5G network. It also have a large battery life that should keep you going while you’re out and about.
The Netgear Nighthawk M2 Mobile Router is Netgear’s first mobile hotspot to support 5G. It’s small and portable, yet it allows for up to 20 simultaneous connections, so it can be used in the busiest of homes and offices, and it can support up to 2Gbps downloads. So, it’s seriously fast, then. Battery life is also good, making it an excellent choice for travelling with.
The only downside is its lack of availability. There are 4G versions out there, which are still good, but getting the 5G one could prove difficult. At the moment it seems like only AT&T are offering the 5G version with the company’s own branding.
The TP-Link M7350 is an excellent mobile hotspot, supporting both micro and nano SIM cards, which means it’s almost certainly going to be compatible with a SIM card you already own. It has a small display for informing you about your connection, and it supports dual band Wifi on both 2.4 and 5GHz. It can be accessed by up to 10 devices at once, and performance is very good on 4G LTE. Its battery life is also excellent, giving you around 10 hours of 4G connectivity.
The EE 4GEE WiFi Mini is one of the better looking mobile hotspot devices on this list, and its compact design means it can be easily carried around with you. The 1500mAh offers up to 50 hours on standby, and up to six hours when connected to the internet.
It can support up to 10 devices at once, but it doesn’t have an LCD screen, like the TP-Link M7350, which means it’s not quite as user friendly. You also need to use the EE network, which isn’t too much of a hardship due to EE’s coverage and fast 4G speeds, and the network offers a range of data plans to go alongside the EE 4GEE WiFi Mini. However, if you want something more future-proof, check out the HTC 5G Hub at the top of this list of best mobile hotspots, which is also offered by EE.
Netgear’s AC810 Aircard is an excellent mobile hotspot that lets you quickly and easily share a fast 4G LTE internet connection with a wide range of devices. Supporting up to 15 devices, this is a very flexible bit of kit, and its 2930 mAh battery is capable of 11 hours operating time and 260 hours when in standby.
An attractive touchscreen gives you all the information you need, and allows you to manage connections and change settings on the fly. It’s put together with a robust build quality we’ve come to expect from Netgear, and in our view this is one of the best Mi-Fi portable hotspots money can buy right now.
The Mobile Wi-Fi Pro from Huawei, otherwise known as the E5770, ticks a lot of boxes for power users. This 4G/LTE model (Cat-4, so only 150Mbps) has one of the biggest batteries we’ve seen on any Mi-Fi device at 5,200mAh. It can even charge another device thanks to a bundled cable that doubles as a stylish strap. Up to 10 devices can be connected with a quoted working time of up to 20 hours.
If that wasn’t good enough, it’s also the only hotspot that we’re aware of that comes with a microSD card slot (sadly taking FAT-formatted cards only) and an Ethernet port. That makes it perfect for small businesses and even, dare we say, a perfect cord-cutting device if paired with the right SIM card.
This is the antithesis of your traditional pocket-sized hotspot and we’re bending the rules to include it in this article. Behold the Netgear Nighthawk R7100LG, a router with a SIM card slot. Technically, it is not portable as the device requires a mains power supply, but there are potential workarounds if you really want to make this happen.
The Nighthawk is a great solution should you want to offer internet access to a massive amount of users, and indeed storage access as well. It offers Cat 6/LTE (300Mbps), AC1900 Wi-Fi, two USB ports, a free app to manage the router (Genie), four Gigabit Ethernet ports plus open source support and a wealth of security features.