A 4G hotspot can make the difference between receiving that important business proposal while you're sitting in the airport or several hours later, after you land. That’s why we went looking for the fastest and most reliable hotspots on the market, testing the latest and greatest devices from the big-four — AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. Find out which hotspots delivered the fastest transfer rates for the money and which fell flat.
Measuring 3.8 x 2.2 x 0.7 inches and weighing 3.6 ounces, the Elevate is one of the more pocket-friendly hotspots, and includes a 32GB microSD Card slot. For overseas travelers, the Elevate 4G can also be used in any of the 220 GSM countries where AT&T has roaming agreements. The Elevate performed the best among other 4G hotspots, averaging downloads of 12.4 Mbps across all locations and uploads of 8.3 Mbps, and proved generally faster when loading websites.
Combining solid battery life and a bargain price, the Sonic 4G seems like a good value. However, this hotspot only connects to T-Mobile's HSPA network which doesn't provide the same bandwidth as the other carriers' LTE services. Is it worth the money?
The Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot 890L allows users to connect 10 Wi-Fi-enabled devices when running on Verizon’s 4G LTE network and five devices when connected to 3G. Even better, Jetpack 890L is CDMA and GSM-enabled so you’ll be able to use it in more than 200 countries. Downloads averaged an impressive 7.3 Mbps and uploads averaged 5.7 Mbps, and its 1700 mAh battery ran for a fairly good 6 hours and 10 minutes.
The Sierra Wireless 4G LTE Tri-Fi Hotspot can connect to Sprint’s 3G, 4G WiMAX and 4G LTE networks, and includes GPS for use with Sprint Navigation. The Tri-Fi performed well, with average download speeds of 9.3 Mbps and uploads of 1.8 Mbps, and provided excellent Web-surfing speeds.
The Sierra Wireless 4G LTE Tri-Fi Hotspot’s massive 3600 mAh battery allowed our unit to run for an incredible 10 hours and 35 minutes. However, Sprint's LTE network has only reached a few U.S. cities, which means many users will have 3G only, depending on where they live.
Verizon's 4G LTE network is available in more than 370 markets nationwide. The 4620L's reach extends far beyond the United States, however. This global-ready device works in more than 200 countries. When not in a 4G LTE coverage area, the 4620L drops back to 3G speeds. Verizon Wireless' $49.99 Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4620L delivers strong speeds, the ability to share with 10 devices and an optional long-lasting battery. We especially like the informative screen.