The 8 Best Portable Wi-Fi Hotspots of 2022

Our top pick is the GlocalMe G4 Pro 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot.

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Best Portable Wi-Fi Hotspots of 2022

Amazon

We're fortunate to live in an era where cell coverage reaches 95 percent of the population, according to the International Telecommunications Union. And that makes staying connected while traveling to most on-the-grid destinations a breeze. Many cell phone carriers offer some level of international data plans, which allows you to use your devices abroad — for a fee, of course.

But if you're working on the go, traveling in a group, or attempting to preserve your phone's battery, you might want to look into getting a portable Wi-Fi hotspot, which often provides more data to more devices. "Portable hotspots will use data just like cell phones do, and coverage will really depend on the carrier and the coverage they offer in the area," Best Buy mobile supervisor Thomas Walker told Travel + Leisure. "Since hotspots require data, they also require a plan, something to remember as you consider buying a portable hotspot."

Our favorite portable Wi-Fi hotspot is the GlocalMe G4 Pro 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot because it's not tethered to any specific cellular provider, and it's very easy to add data to your plan.

Here’s our breakdown of the best portable Wi-Fi hotspots:

Best Overall

GlocalMe G4 Pro 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot

GlocalMe G4 Pro 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot

Amazon

Why We Love It: It's an unlocked hotspot that can be used in 140-plus countries.

What to Consider: It doesn't support 5G.

What we like about the GlocalMe G4 Pro 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot is its flexibility and streamlined design — it's the ticket for travelers who are hopping across continents. The company has its own Cloud SIM technology, allowing you to connect to the internet in 144 countries around the world using its proprietary data packages, which are pay-as-you-go and require no contract. The hotspot also comes with one free gigabyte of international data, which can be used over the course of a 90-day period.

Also nice: you can also replace the SIM card with a local provider if the standard connection isn't fast enough for your needs, or if you run out of data in your prepaid plan and want to replace it with data provided by a local carrier. You can also connect up to 10 devices — and it'll stay powered for up to 12 hours before you need to recharge.

Price at time of publish: $169

Battery life: 12 hours | Average download speed: Not listed | Connected devices: 10

Best Budget

Alcatel LinkZone 4G Mobile WiFi Hotspot

Alcatel LINKZONE 4G Mobile WiFi Hotspot

Amazon

Why We Love It: You can connect up to 15 devices.

What to Consider: It has a short battery life.

Priced just above $50, the Alcatel LinkZone 4G Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot is one of the more budget-friendly hotspots available. This SIM card-operated pick is best matched with AT&T, T-Mobile, and other GSM carriers that use SIM cards for service (the specific device shown here is locked to T-Mobile, specifically, while unlocked versions are more expensive). But one of your tradeoffs for price is that it only offers up to six hours battery life when fully charged. That said, it does have a max download speed of 150 megabits per second (Mbps) for quick and continuous streaming, and it can be used for up to 15 devices at once.

Price at time of publish: $35

Battery life: 10 hours | Average download speed: 150 Mbps | Connected devices: 15

Best for AT&T

Netgear Nighthawk MR1100 Mobile Hotspot 4G LTE Router

Netgear Nighthawk MR1100

Amazon

Why We Love It: This is a super high-speed device.

What to Consider: Netgear doesn't publish battery life.

Able to connect and share data with 20 devices at once, the Netgear Nighthawk M1 Mobile Hotspot can handle multiple tasks at once without sacrificing power or speed. It's an unlocked device that uses GSM SIM cards, but we recommend using it with AT&T. It's equipped with fast 4G LTE broadband and offers up to one gigabit per second (Gbps) of download speed. Worried about how much data you've used? Its LCD screen clearly displays how much storage is remaining, calculates when it will run out, and keeps count of the devices connected.

While Netgear doesn't publish the battery life of the Nighthawk M1, it claims it can last "all day" — and you can even buy a battery booster pack for more juice. There is an upgraded version of this hotspot that is 5G-compatible, but it's nearly double the price, which we didn't think was a necessary investment to merit our top pick for AT&T.

Price at time of publish: $430

Battery life: 11 hours | Average download speed: 1 Gbps | Connected devices: 20 

Best for T-Mobile

Inseego 5G MiFi M2000

Inseego 5G MiFi M2000

Inseego

Why We Love It: It's 5G-compatible and protects your devices with a VPN.

What to Consider: It's a little on the heavier side.

For travelers who want to connect many devices to a hotspot (and are willing to sign a contract with T-Mobile or add a phone line to your existing plan) the Inseego 5G MiFi M2000 is the pick for you. This is a powerful device, not only in terms of capacity — it can support up to 30 devices at once — but also in terms of speed. It's 5G-compatible, without an extraordinarily high price tag. Inseego doesn't publish specific stats for battery life or average download speed, as they vary with usage and connection, but you can expect "all day" charge and substantially fast download speeds when connected to 5G.

Price at time of publish: $159

Battery life: up to 24 hours | Average download speed: 2.7 Gbps | Connected devices: 30

Best for Verizon

Verizon Jetpack MiFi 8800L

Verizon Jetpack MiFi 8800L

Best Buy

Why We Love It: It's got a 24-hour battery life.

What to Consider: It's not 5G-compatible.

The compact and lightweight Verizon Jetpack MiFi 8800L is one of the top-rated mobile hotspots on the market today, highly regarded for its ease of use and reliability. You can connect up to 15 devices with a single signal, though doing so will certainly shorten its 24 hours of battery life (yes, this hotspot is particularly good for people on the go, such as campers and RVers!). It also has impressive security measures, including an automatically connecting VPN and a guest network if you'd like to share your hotspot. Though there are 5G-compatible hotspots for Verizon users, they're not yet as reliable as this device, which is why it's on this list.

Price at time of publish: $200

Battery life: 24 hours | Average download speed:  Not listed | Connected devices: 15 

Best for International Use

Skyroam Solis Lite

Skyroam Solis Lite

Amazon

Why We Love It: It's pocket-sized and extra-secure with an optional VPN.

What to Consider: It can only connect 10 devices at a time.

As an unlocked portable Wi-Fi hotspot, the Skyroam Solis Lite can connect to local cell networks in 135-plus countries, choosing the strongest network for your location. As for purchasing that data, there's no need to get a local SIM — you can do so from an app, choosing from pay-as-you-go data, daily passes, or monthly unlimited data subscriptions. You can also choose plans for specific geographies: the USA, Europe, Asia, or global. We love how small and lightweight this specific model is, though it can only support up to 10 devices at a time. But it does have a 16-hour battery life, which is pretty solid for such a small hotspot.

Price at time of publish: $140

Battery life: 16 hours | Average download speed: 150 Mbps | Connected devices: 10

Most Durable

Netgear Explore AC815S

Netgear Explore AC815S

Amazon

Why We Love It: It's splash-proof.

What to Consider: It's not waterproof. (There's a difference!)

While many smartphones are waterproof these days, portable Wi-Fi hotspots typically aren't. So if you're traveling somewhere where there's a chance your device might get wet — say, on a camping trip — well, you're pretty much out of luck. But that's where the Netgear Unite Explore comes in. This hotspot is designed for more rugged conditions, so it's coated in rubber to protect against bumps and it's splash-proof. (Note: that does not mean waterproof, so don't submerge this hotspot!) Another boon for campers or RVers: the battery life on this hotspot, which can support up to 15 devices, is an impressive 22 hours. 

Price at time of publish: $200

Battery life: 22 hours | Average download speed: 450 Mbps | Connected devices: 15

Best Router

TP-Link TL-WR802N N300 Wireless Portable Nano Travel Router

TP-Link TL-WR802N N300 Wireless Portable Nano Travel Router

Amazon

Why We Love It: It makes Wi-Fi connections in hotel rooms and on cruises easier and more secure.

What to Consider: It's not a true portable Wi-Fi hotspot.

Technically, a Wi-Fi router is not a portable Wi-Fi hotspot. But what it does do is allow you to take one internet connection with a tricky login situation — say, hotel Wi-Fi that asks you to input your room number every time you connect — and streamlines the process for connecting additional devices. In a nutshell, you connect to Wi-Fi via the router, which then creates a more secure network for you to connect to from other devices. This router can also boost Wi-Fi signals throughout a space, so if you're in an Airbnb where the Wi-Fi is strong in one room but not another, a router can help.

Bite-sized and affordable, the TP-Link N300 Wireless Portable Nano Travel Router is the one to take on a trip with you. It delivers up to 300 Mbps of fast internet without any lagging, making it perfect for streaming, gaming, making phone calls, and more.

Price at time of publish: $29

Battery life: Must be plugged in | Average download speed: 300 Mbps | Connected devices:  Not listed

Tips for Buying Portable WiFi Hotspots

Consider where and when you'll use it

Not all portable Wi-Fi hotspots can be used everywhere. If yours is tied to a U.S.–based carrier (like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon), and you're planning on going abroad, you need to make sure you've paid for a data plan that includes international use. If you're only traveling for a short period of time, this might be the most convenient option. 

But if you're planning on traveling internationally for an extended period of time, you might want to opt for an unlocked portable Wi-Fi hotspot — that is, one that isn't tied to a specific carrier. You can then buy a data plan from a company based in your destination, which usually is a more economical decision. "SIM cards are cheap and easy to get in lots of countries worldwide, and going this route ensures you get the strongest signal possible for the lowest price," Peter Holslin, senior staff writer at internet comparison site HighSpeedInternet.com, told T+L.

The duration of your trip should also inform whether you want to purchase an as-you-go data plan (better for shorter tips) or a monthly one (better for longer trips).

Consider what you'll use it for

Think about your planned data consumption for your trip. If you're just looking for a basic connection that allows you to send messages, you can opt for a slower device. But if you're planning on streaming entertainment or gaming online, you're going to want a portable Wi-Fi hotspot with high upload and download speeds.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How do portable hotspots work?

    "Wi-Fi hotspots work similar to phones, tapping into your cellular network to provide high-speed data for use with laptops, tablets, gaming systems, etc.," Verizon spokesperson George Koroneos told T+L. "What's more? You can give access to your travel companions, so they can use your dedicated hotspot, similar to a Wi-Fi network."

  • How do I connect it in a different country?

    It depends on what type of portable hotspot you have and what type of plan you have. If your hotspot plan is locked to a specific carrier, you'll need to make sure your carrier has an international plan. (Spoiler alert: most do.) It might be as simple as turning your device on and letting it automatically connect to a local cell network. But if your portable hotspot requires a local SIM card to work, you'll have to pick one up at the airport or at a store and insert it into your hotspot to connect to a local cell network.

  • Does a portable Wi-Fi hotspot use data?

    Yes, it does. "Mobile hotspots connect to cellular networks to provide internet connection allowing customers to connect anywhere," Jeff Howard, AT&T's vice president of hardware and partner solutions, told T+L.

  • Why should I use a portable Wi-Fi hotspot instead of my cell phone' data plan?

    Many cell phone providers have international plan options for travelers, and you can turn most smartphones into a mobile hotspot under that plan. Then you can connect devices to your cell phone for internet services. But that's not always the best solution.

    "One thing to consider is carriers may limit the hotspot data amount on your phone, so you may see slower speeds at a certain point," said Walker. On the other hand, portable Wi-Fi hotspots require their own data plans, which costs money.

    Walker did, however, note many positives for a separate portable Wi-Fi hotspot. "When you use a portable hotspot you can choose the carrier it’s connected to, so if you want to maximize your coverage you can use one carrier for your phone and a different carrier for the hotspot," he said. "You also don’t have to run your cell phone battery when you use a standalone hotspot."

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Stefanie Waldek is a freelance travel writer who has tested cell coverage on all seven continents. (Antarctica is by far the worst.) For this article, she spoke with tech experts, poured over cell service coverage maps, and read dozens of customer reviews. 

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