Top 5 Best Mobile Hotspots For Travelers & Digital Nomads - Digital Nomad Soul

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Top 5 Best Mobile Hotspots For Travelers & Digital Nomads

by | Last updated May 19, 2020

If you are traveling a lot, you will sooner or later look into options for mobile internet – may it be for work, entertainment or communication. But what are the best mobile hotspots out there?

The following blog post will explain what options you have when it comes to portable hotspot devices and shows you 5 of the best international WIFI hotspots for travelers and digital nomads on the market.

Who Needs an International WIFI Hotspot?

Let’s say you want to travel to a couple of countries within the next few months and need consistent internet wherever you go. Of course, you will very likely have WIFI connections in hotels and restaurants and places like that.

BUT maybe these connections are too expensive or too slow or don’t work for your devices at all. Or maybe you want to make sure you have internet from the park or public transport or while you are out exploring the region. So you need something portable.

Option #1: International Roaming Plan

One option to solve that problem is a service provider, for example, T-Mobile, that offer international roaming plans for your smartphone. You will usually pay more per month and are able to access internet connections in many other countries.

Benefits:

  • Simple. You don’t need to worry about local SIM cards. All you need is your phone and you are set to go.

Downsides:

  • Can Be Expensive. While this can be a fairly affordable option, there is also the danger of violating the fine prints. Some providers limit their monthly data volume and charge you a lot if you use more. Others charge more for using data in certain countries.
  • Limited Countries. These international roaming plans often don’t work in every country. So check if your destinations are covered.
  • Limited Providers. Not every provider in every country offers plans like that, which means you don’t have much choice.
  • Battery Duration. If you use your phone as a hotspot to get internet on your computer, the hotspot mode will drain your phone battery. You will have to charge it more often.

Option #2: Locked Mobile Hotspots

Some telecommunication companies have their own mobile hotspots, for example, the Verizon MiFi 6620L. You will pay a monthly fee to this provider and have internet access via this device.

Benefits:

  • Simple. You don’t need to worry about local SIM cards. All you need is your phone and you are set to go.
  • Battery. The battery duration of mobile hotspots is usually fairly good. It also means that your phone battery won’t be affected by using the hotspot mode of your phone.
  • Multiple Connections. You can connect several devices to this hotspot, e.g. smartphone, laptop, tablet, friend’s smartphone, etc., without slowing down the connection too much.

Downside:

  • Limited Countries. Although the coverage is fairly good today, there are still many countries that won’t be covered by your provider. Check if your destinations are covered.
  • Limited Providers. Not every provider in every country offers hotspots like that, which means you don’t have much choice.
  • Expensive. Especially the international plans are often very expensive and/or have a limited data volume.
  • Extra Cost for the Hotspot. You obviously have to buy the hotspot which means additional costs. In the long run, it can be worth it, though.

Option #3: Unlocked Smartphone with Local SIM Cards

Another solution could be to buy a local SIM card in every country and use it with your smartphone. You can use your phone as a hotspot and get internet on your laptop.

Benefits:

  • Fairly simple. You only need your phone and no additional device.
  • Cheap. By using local SIM cards you usually get the best deals.

Downsides:

  • Unlocked Phones. Your phone needs to be unlocked in order to work with local SIM cards.
  • Battery Duration. The hotspot mode will drain your phone battery so you will have to charge it more often.
  • Your Phone Number Won’t Work. In case you need to be able to receive text messages or phone calls under your normal number, you can’t use another SIM card.
  • SIM Cards. You have to check out which local provider is the best (and maybe cheapest), buy a local SIM card and frequently top it up if necessary.

Option #4: Mobile Hotspot With Local SIM Cards

A fourth way to deal with that problem is an international mobile hotspot. All you need to do is buy a local SIM card and plug it into the pocket-sized device.

Benefits:

  • Battery. The battery duration of portable hotspots is very good. It also means that your phone battery won’t be affected by using its hotspot mode.
  • Multiple Connections. You can connect several devices to this hotspot, e.g. smartphone, laptop, tablet, friend’s smartphone etc., without slowing the connection down too much.
  • Cheap. By using local SIM cards you usually get the best deals.

Downsides:

  • Extra Device. You have to carry an extra device around with you.
  • Extra Cost for the Hotspot. You obviously have to buy the hotspot which means additional costs. In the long run, it can be worth it, though.
  • SIM Cards. You have to check out which local provider is the best (and maybe cheapest), buy a local SIM card and frequently top it up if necessary.

Best Mobile Hotspots, Portable WIFI Device, Skyroam, Digital Nomad Tools

What Qualities Should a Portable WIFI Device for Travel have?

If you have decided that a mobile hotspot is the best choice for you, you now have to find out which device you should buy.

Before you do so, have a look at the following qualities that are important when it comes to portable WIFI devices.

Battery

Obviously, the longer the battery duration, the better. If you want to use it a lot and don’t think you will have many chances to charge it, you should go for one with long battery life and maybe bring a power bank with you.

Internet Speed

There are 3G, 4G and 4G+ mobile hotspots on the market. While 4G and 4G+ are your fastest options with the best download speed, you might not get it in every country or region. However, if you can only find 3G SIM cards, you can use them in 4G and 4G+ devices, too.

Multiple Devices

Most portable hotspots will let you connect about 10 devices at the same time. In case you are traveling with a group of people or have lots of devices that need internet, you can also by hotspots that take up to 20 devices.

Additional Features

Some mobile WIFI devices come with additional features. For example, some have a micro SD card slot so you bring a memory card and save files on them. Others function as external power bank, which means you can charge your phone or other devices with it.

Best Mobile Hotspots, Portable WIFI Device, Skyroam, Digital Nomad Tools

Best Mobile Hotspots

Since there are countless different portable WIFI hotspots out there, you might struggle a bit to find the right one for you. Check out the following list and find some of the best international hotspot devices for travelers and digital nomads – all of them unlocked.

1. ZTE MF971V

ZTE MF971V portable hotspot allows you to connect up to staggering 32 devices. So in case you are traveling with your family, friends or your team, this is the hotspot to go. The super-fast 4G+ gives you a download speed of up to 300mbps and an upload speed of 50mbps.

The battery is very powerful and lasts up to 20 hours. On top of that, it can even be used as a power bank to charge your phone while traveling.

It also comes with a 1.44” TFT LCD screen for easier usage and, of course, it is unlocked so you can use it with any SIM card you like.

2.  Alcatel Link Zone MW41

The Alatel Link Zone MW41 is very easy to use: Switch it on and off you go. It lets you connect up to 15 devices at the same time. Its 4G connection can speed up to 150mbps. The battery has a capacity of 1800mAh, which will give you approximately 7 hours working time and 300 hours standby. In addition to that, this mobile hotspot has an SD card slot to save data of up to 32GB on an extra card.

3. GlocalMe G3

The GlocalMe G3 is one of the most popular portable hotspots on the market right now. It runs with 4G/LTE and reaches a download speed of up to 150mbps and an upload speed of 50mbps.

You can connect up to 5 devices, operate it via touch-screen and battery lasts about 15 hours. It can also be used as a power bank for other devices.

The special feature: The GlocalMe G3 has a built-in SIM card that comes with 1GB of global data. You can buy more for this plan later or you simply use one of the two slots for local SIM cards, if you find a cheaper option with local providers.

4. Netgear Unite Explore 815S

The Netgear Unite Explore 815S is another popular mobile hotspot that comes with a 4G connection. You can connect up to 15 devices on this hotspot and the 4340mAh battery lasts for an astonishing 22 hours working time.

It comes with a color touchscreen, is dustproof, shock- and water-resistant – perfect for every adventurous traveler.

In case you are traveling to a low-signal area, you can also connect an external antenna for better range.

5. Huawei E5786S

The Huawei E5786S is a 4G portable WIFI device that speeds uploads to 300mbps and downloads up to 50mbps. It allows you to connect up to 10 devices to its internet connection. The battery has a maximum duration of 10 hours, plus 500 hours in standby. It also functions as a power bank for external devices.

Comparison of the Best Mobile Hotspots

Still not sure which device to bring? Check out the following comparison of the mentioned mobile hotspots to get an overview of the main features:

 ZTE MF971VAlcatel Link Zone MW41GlocalMe G3Netgear Unite Explore 815SHuawei E5786S
Speed4G+4G4G4G4G
Battery Duration20 hours7 hours15 hours10 hours22 hours
Potential Connections321551510
Measurement110*65*17 mm101*63*25 mm127*66*20 mm114.3*71*20 mm106*70*19 mm
Weight130 g104 g241 g178.5 g200 g
Special FeaturesPowerbankSD Card SlotPowerbank, Built-in SIM CardDustproof, Shock- and Water-resistantPowerbank, SD Card Slot

Bonus: The linked devices are all unlocked, which means they work with every SIM worldwide. Just in case you want to look for other hotspots, make sure they are unlocked, too. Some of them come usually in packages with a provider like AT&T. In this case, you will only be able to use it with their SIM cards. So beware.

Additional Option: Global Hotspot

Best Mobile Hotspots, Portable WIFI Device, Skyroam, Digital Nomad ToolsSimply because it is one of my favorite gadgets and I find it super useful, I quickly want to throw in another option: Skyroam Solis.

For this mobile hotspot device, you don’t need to buy local SIM cards and you are not dependent on your phone provider either.

The short version of how it works: You buy the device, top it up and as soon as you switch it on in a new country, it will automatically connect you to a local provider. That means you will have internet in more countries and are not running the danger of getting charged high roaming fees.

You only pay for the days you use the Skyroam hotspot. To me, this is the perfect emergency solution for the days when I can’t get any local WIFI connection or when I’m in public transport. Maybe it would be a great solution for you, too.

If you want to find out more about this revolutionary technology, read the review I wrote about Skyroam with all the advantages and disadvantages of this device.

Best WIFI Hotspots for Every Need

As you can see there are plenty of ways how you can bring mobile internet with you when you are traveling. Decide if you want to simply use an international roaming plan, go for local SIM cards in your phone or use an unlocked portable hotspot.

In case you want to use an international hotspot device, the mentioned devices are some of the best mobile hotspots on the market right now. I’m sure you will discover the right one for you and your needs.

Best Mobile Hotspots, Portable WIFI Device, Skyroam, Digital Nomad Tools

About the Author

Denise Mai

Denise Mai

Founder of Digital Nomad Soul

Hi, I’m Denise – a travel addict and remote work enthusiast. I have been traveling the world since 2008 and explored, worked, and lived in more than 80 countries. To me, there is nothing better than the freedom and flexibility that comes with a location-independent lifestyle.

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4 Comments

  1. Hi Des, thanks! Which device do you mean?

  2. Hi Good review but I note that the manufacturer specifically excludes compatibility with Windows 10. Do you know if this is correct?

  3. Hi Carina, thanks a lot for the clarification! Yes, I thought so with the CloudSIM/Skyroam technology. But why does it have additional SIM card slots then? That confuses me a bit.

  4. Hi Denise, this is Carina Cheung who is from uCloudlink and responsible to GlocalMe branding developlment. In fact, I am writing to sent our appreciation about your introduction of GlocalMe G3. However, here is some correction about our technology. In fact, all the GlocalMe units are under the smiliar technology as Skyroam Solis. GlocalMe is using CloudSIM technology which means there is no physial SIM card in the devices. Instead, there is seed SIM inside for the internet connection to our cloud server and it enable the devices to have intellgient network connection among different local mobile network. GlocalMe can service in more than 100 countries/regions and provides more flexible and reasonable network charge.

    We are glad to invite you to have a trial on GlocalMe service as our application, please feel free to drop us an email via [email protected] .

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