The Best Mobile Hotspots for 2024 (2024)

Deeper Dive: Our Top Tested Picks

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The Best Mobile Hotspots for 2024 (1)

Best T-Mobile Hotspot

Franklin Wireless JEXtream RG2100 5G Mobile Hotspot (T-Mobile)

4.0 Excellent

  • Consistent and fast network speeds
  • Intuitive web interface
  • Easy setup
  • Sturdy build
  • No Wi-Fi 6E
  • Lacks an Ethernet port
  • No antenna ports

Service ProviderT-Mobile

Wireless SpecificationWi-Fi 6

Number of Devices Supported20

Battery Life13 hours, 30 minutes

The Franklin Wireless JEXtream RG2100 5G Mobile Hotspot offers an easy setup process, excellent data speeds, and impressive battery life. T-Mobile sells just two 5G mobile hotspots and this happens to be the one with the best performance and lowest price.

This is the hotspot to buy if you're in an area with a strong T-Mobile 5G signal and need top-notch Wi-Fi performance for several devices.

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$129.99 Amazon

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Franklin Wireless JEXtream RG2100 5G Mobile Hotspot (T-Mobile) Review

  • Only hotspot that works with Verizon's latest 5G
  • Clear, simple on-screen interface
  • Ethernet port for network output
  • No external antenna ports
  • Big and heavy
  • Battery life is short on fastest 5G

Service ProviderVerizon Wireless

Wireless SpecificationWi-Fi 6

Number of Devices Supported30

Battery Life11 hours 45 minutes

The Orbic Speed 5G UW Mobile Hotspot supports up to 30 simultaneous device connections and works with all the major Verizon 5G bands, including 2/5/48/66/77/78/257/260/261. It delivered download speeds of around 600Mbps during our tests at a location with a robust 5G signal, though we're slightly disappointed by its relative bulk and lack of external antenna ports. The touch screen is quite convenient, however.

If you live in an area where Verizon 5G is prevalent, the Orbic is a good choice. That said, Verizon now sells newer models with more recent modems. For instance, whereas this Orbic model uses Qualcomm's X55 radio, the Inseego MiFi X Pro 5G UW runs on the Snapdragon X62/X65 platform. We look forward to testing it.

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$299.99 Verizon

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Orbic Speed 5G UW Mobile Hotspot (Verizon) Review

The Best Mobile Hotspots for 2024 (3)

Best Unlocked Hotspot

Netgear Nighthawk M6 (Unlocked)

3.5 Good

  • Work on multiple carriers
  • Supports sub-6GHz/mid-band 5G
  • Easily adjustable settings
  • Unimpressive battery life
  • No mmWave 5G
  • Expensive

Service ProviderUnlocked

Wireless SpecificationWi-Fi 6

Number of Devices Supported32

Battery Life7 hours, 17 minutes

We liked the Netgear Nighthawk M6's vibrant touch screen and SIM-swapping flexibility, though middling battery life and missing mmWave 5G support are both downsides. If those are vital to you, the unlocked M6 Pro adds mmWave 5G support and Wi-Fi 6E.

If you don't want to commit to a carrier or frequently need to change SIM cards for travel, this hotspot is ideal. You pay a bit more for the ability to switch providers at will, however, so you can save money by choosing a carrier-specific model.

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$649.99 Amazon

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Netgear Nighthawk M6 (Unlocked) Review

The Best Mobile Hotspots for 2024 (4)

Best AT&T Hotspot

Netgear Nighthawk M6 Pro (AT&T)

Most of what we said about the unlocked Nighthawk M6 applies to the Nighthawk M6 Pro. It's more affordable because it ties you to AT&T, which is a fair trade-off if you live in an area with good AT&T 5G coverage. As for other highlights, it works with up to 32 devices simultaneously and supports the critical n77 band for access to AT&T's 3.45GHz network (which uses the company's most advanced 5G technology).

If you don't want to compromise on performance and know AT&T is the right carrier for you, this model is a much better value than the unlocked Nighthawk M6. It gets you access to 5G+ (AT&T's mmWave coverage) and supports faster Wi-Fi 6E.

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$321.99 Best Buy

Buying Guide: The Best Mobile Hotspots for 2024

The Best Mobile Hotspot Plans

Hotspots are available from all three nationwide carriers as well as several virtual operators that use the larger carriers' networks. For instance, you can get hotspot plans from Boost (AT&T/Dish/T-Mobile), Cricket (AT&T), H2O (AT&T), Karma (T-Mobile), Metro (T-Mobile), Net10 (Verizon), and Simple Mobile (T-Mobile) among others.

Hotspot plans change all the time. On AT&T and Verizon, your best bet is to add a hotspot to your existing phone plan as a separate line. That gets you the most data for your dollar. If you add a hotspot onto an "unlimited" phone plan, you get up to 60GB of high-speed data with Verizon, 60GB with AT&T, and 50GB with T-Mobile. After that, the carriers deprioritize your data or throttle it unpredictably, depending on local network traffic.

Can Hotspots Replace Home Internet?

Hotspot plans aren't designed for primary home use. They cost much more per byte than a home DSL, cable, or fiber setup.

The median US home broadband subscriber usesmore than 427GB of data per month, likely because ofvideo streaming servicessuch as Hulu and Netflix. All of those Zoom calls are also likely to eat up a data cap quickly. If your needs don't involve video or music streaming, a wireless hotspot might be a viable alternative for your home.

However, there is such a thing as wireless home internet, and it's different from hotspots. It relies on exterior antennas and larger, less portable routers that stay in one location. Recent wireless internet plans are more likely to have unlimited data than hotspot plans. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon all sell wireless home internet plans in various parts of the country, as do a wide range of smaller, local wireless internet service providers (WISPs). Starlink is worth considering as well.

So, who's using hotspots? Traditionally, it was just road warriors—business people who needed reliable connections for multiple devices without draining their phones' batteries. Now, food trucks and other outdoor-dwelling small businesses use hotspots to light up their point-of-sale systems and get Seamless orders. Vacation home and RV owners might also use hotspots for part-time homesteads. And folks who can't get the carriers' dedicated wireless internet plans might still find they can fall back on hotspots.

What's the Best Hotspot Hardware?

The three big carriers are near the end of the first major phase of their 5G rollouts and in many cases, network capabilities have now outstripped the quality of older hotspots running on them. That means recent phones will get better speeds than older hotspots.

Many high-quality hotspots have TS9 external antenna ports to help you improve your signal using inexpensive antennas you can purchase online. TS9 is standard, and these antennas cost much less than cellular signal boosters. Unfortunately, 5G hotspots that support mmWave generally don't have external antenna ports.

Ensure your hotspot supports 5GHz Wi-Fi, which is typically faster and less congested than 2.4GHz Wi-Fi. Our picks typically support both 5GHz and 2.4GHz. Some hotspots support guest networks and access controls, such as MAC filtering and time-based limits. Those features are on pretty much all dedicated routers nowadays, but you can't necessarily take them for granted on mobile hotspots.

You can use hotspots that have big batteries as power banksto charge your phone. And some hotspots with microSD card slots can function as tiny servers for sharing media over Wi-Fi. That said, we've never found a real use for that media server functionality.

We really like the displays on the front of many current hotspots. They conveniently report the strength of your signal, your hotspot's name, data usage statistics, and the network password.

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Should You Tether Your Phone Instead of Using a Hotspot?

Keep in mind that a dedicated hotspot isn't the only option. Smartphones have a Wi-Fi hotspot mode, and if you have a 5G phone, you might get better performance in that mode than you would with a 4G hotspot. That said, phones support fewer devices at once, don't have as many network management features, and can run out of battery quite quickly.

To help narrow your decision, head to our explainer on thetethering vs. dedicated hotspotdebate. And check out our tips onhow to turn your phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Beware: Overseas Surfing Will Cost You

US hotspots generally allow you to roam in Canada and Mexico, although rates might be high. Be sure to check with your carrier in advance to find out.

One of the only good unlocked hotspots with international bands available in the US is the Netgear Nighthawk M6, but it's quite expensive. If you plan to buy a local SIM to take advantage of lower local data rates, you may want to buy a cheap phone abroad and tether from it.

The Best Mobile Hotspots for 2024 (2024)

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