The 5 Best Portable Wi-Fi Hotspots to Go Mobile With Your Work in 2020
I think we’re all feeling like that "can we have class outside" kid—begging to work in the great outdoors, albeit with very few resources to do so. For many of us, office jobs pivoted to fully remote, and our favorite coffee shops are out of the question, so instead we’re stuck at our dark desks in makeshift home offices or camped out at dining room tables. Why not invest in a hotspot to work in the park or on the road?
A lot of phones already have the ability to become pretty impressive (and highly portable) hotspots, though that often requires upgrading your data plan—possibly updating your phone. You'll want to consider something more powerful. Mobile hotspots work almost exactly like a cellphone, but instead of using that cellular data to let you text, stream, and watch the world end, they turn the signal into a mini Wi-Fi network. Oftentimes, having a designated hotspot, as opposed to using one off your phone, prevents clogged-up speeds.
Hotspots have come a long way in the last few years, and with the arrival of 5G, some are better than ever. You have the choice of buying a freelance hotspot that has its own network and is not affiliated with one of the major cellular providers, which can allow for more flexibility in data purchasing and contract terms. You could also work with your cell service provider to add a hotspot to your plan. Ultimately, it comes down to what you need to do, and how much you can drop. Whether it’s more speed or more affordability you're after, here are the five best portable mobile Wi-Fi hotspots you can pick up right now.
Skyroam Solis X Wi-Fi Smartspot
Skyroam is hands-down the easiest hotspot on the list to operate. You buy it, connect it to the app, and pay for data as you need it. No cell companies, no contracts, just you and your little orange hockey puck. Skyroam’s internet service is great for basic web surfing, email, and light file sharing, but it can get bogged down with heavier workloads. Regardless, it’s a reliably quick connection that won't break the bank, backed by an extremely accessible, pay-as-you-go data system. skyroam.com
BEST FOR SPEED
Netgear Orbi 4G LTE Advanced Tri-band Router
Orbi 4G is kickass but works better as a more stationary unit for, say, a hotel stay or a campsite trip. It harnesses Orbi’s mesh technology combined with the 4G network, which you can use as a standalone network or integrate into your home internet. That's the coolest thing about the Orbi 4G LTE router: the way it melds the 4G connection with your home internet. If your wired, cable-based Wi-Fi ever goes down, the 4G kicks in to prevent any service interruptions, saving you from server crashes, POS system freezes, or other headaches that come when internet service drops. The Orbi 4G may not be ideal for sitting at a coffee shop or in the park—it's larger in size and needs to be plugged in—but it offers damn good internet for other situations. netgear.com
BEST FOR AT&T
Netgear Nighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot Router
With a lot of these hotspots, it comes down to which cellular network you're already locked into a contract with. Luckily, all three major networks have some really great choices. The Nighthawk series from Netgear, which AT&T uses, is most associated with gaming. And if there’s one thing modern gaming needs, it’s top-of-the-line internet. This Nighthawk hotspot features an LED screen to make Wi-Fi management simple, and setting it up is a breeze. Netgear Nighthawk is a killer Wi-Fi ecosystem, and coupled with AT&T’s network, you're going to be able to stream anywhere at any time. att.com
Verizon 5G MiFi M1000 Hotspot
Verizon definitely sells the front runner in cutting-edge mobile internet technology. That tech, however, comes with a pretty big price tag. Verizon’s mobile hotspot is one of the first that utilizes 5G, which the pure speed of the hotspot really shows off. The download speeds, coverage area, and just general reliability of this thing prove that 5G is the future—even if it gives us all three eyeballs. verizon.com
BEST FOR SPRINT
Sprint MiFi 8000 Mobile Hotspot
Like Verizon and AT&T, Sprint also has its own hotspot. Similar to Verizon's, it taps the MiFi brand for Wi-Fi hardware, but Sprint’s version doesn't have the 5G upgrade. That being said, the 4G coverage is still fantastic on this hotspot, and as long as you’re not illegally downloading every season of Seinfeld, it should work more than well enough. The MiFi 8000 also has the added bonus of a very accessible screen, similar to the Nighthawk, for easy data management. sprint.com
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.