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The Best Unlocked Mobile Hotspots for Travelers in 2019

By Dave Dean Accessories, Get Connected, Top66 Comments


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Public Wi-Fi isn’t great for staying connected on the road. Weak signal, slow speeds, and dire hotel networks often make getting online an ordeal, and that’s before you even consider the lack of security.

If you need reliable, consistent Internet while traveling — especially if you’ve got a locked smartphone or are traveling as a couple or group — take your connection wherever you go with a mobile hotspot instead.

Huawei E5330Bs-2 3G Mobile WiFi Hotspot (3G in Europe, Asia, Middle East & Africa), OEM/ORIGINAL from Huawei. Black
GlocalMe G4 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot, Worldwide High Speed WiFi Hotspot with 1GB Global Data & 8GB US Data, No SIM Card Roaming Charges International Pocket WiFi Hotspot MIFI Device-White]
Huawei E5577Cs-321 4G LTE Mobile WiFi Hotspot (4G LTE in Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa & 3G globally) Unlocked/OEM/ORIGINAL from Huawei WITHOUT CARRIER LOGO (Black)
HUAWEI E5787Ph-67a (Unlocked) 4GX WiFi PRO Touch Screen Display Modem+Dual Antenna Port WT
Huawei E5885Ls-93a 300 Mbps 4G LTE Mobile WiFi Hotspot (4G LTE in USA (AT&T, T-Mobile), Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa, LATM, Venezuela & 3G Globally) 25 Hours 6400 mAh Battery
Name
Huawei E5330Bs
GlocalMe G4
Huawei E5577
Huawei E5787
Huawei E5885
Size
3.5 x 2.4 x 0.6 in
5.4 x 2.8 x 0.5 in
3.7 x 2.2 x 0.4 in
4.2 x 2.4 x 0.7 in
4.4 x 2.7 x 0.9 in
Weight
1.8 ounces
6.7 ounces
3.5 ounces
1.8 ounces
6.9 ounces
Battery Life:
6 hours
15 hours
6 hours
10
25 hours
Speeds in Mbps (Down/Up):
21/5
150/50
150/50
300/50
300/50
Simultaneous Connections:
10
5
10
10
32
Huawei E5330Bs-2 3G Mobile WiFi Hotspot (3G in Europe, Asia, Middle East & Africa), OEM/ORIGINAL from Huawei. Black
Name
Huawei E5330Bs
Size
3.5 x 2.4 x 0.6 in
Weight
1.8 ounces
Battery Life:
6 hours
Speeds in Mbps (Down/Up):
21/5
Simultaneous Connections:
10
GlocalMe G4 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot, Worldwide High Speed WiFi Hotspot with 1GB Global Data & 8GB US Data, No SIM Card Roaming Charges International Pocket WiFi Hotspot MIFI Device-White]
Name
GlocalMe G4
Size
5.4 x 2.8 x 0.5 in
Weight
6.7 ounces
Battery Life:
15 hours
Speeds in Mbps (Down/Up):
150/50
Simultaneous Connections:
5
Huawei E5577Cs-321 4G LTE Mobile WiFi Hotspot (4G LTE in Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa & 3G globally) Unlocked/OEM/ORIGINAL from Huawei WITHOUT CARRIER LOGO (Black)
Name
Huawei E5577
Size
3.7 x 2.2 x 0.4 in
Weight
3.5 ounces
Battery Life:
6 hours
Speeds in Mbps (Down/Up):
150/50
Simultaneous Connections:
10
HUAWEI E5787Ph-67a (Unlocked) 4GX WiFi PRO Touch Screen Display Modem+Dual Antenna Port WT
Name
Huawei E5787
Size
4.2 x 2.4 x 0.7 in
Weight
1.8 ounces
Battery Life:
10
Speeds in Mbps (Down/Up):
300/50
Simultaneous Connections:
10
Huawei E5885Ls-93a 300 Mbps 4G LTE Mobile WiFi Hotspot (4G LTE in USA (AT&T, T-Mobile), Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa, LATM, Venezuela & 3G Globally) 25 Hours 6400 mAh Battery
Name
Huawei E5885
Size
4.4 x 2.7 x 0.9 in
Weight
6.9 ounces
Battery Life:
25 hours
Speeds in Mbps (Down/Up):
300/50
Simultaneous Connections:
32

What Is Mi-Fi, Anyway?

Mobile hotspots are known by a range of other names, including portable Wi-Fi routers, pocket Wi-Fi, mobile Wi-Fi devices, portable hotspots, Mi-Fis, and more. Whatever you call them, though, they all work in much the same way.

Typically a small gadget around the size of a deck of cards, the device shares cellular data over its own private wireless network. You get online by connecting all your other devices to that private Wi-Fi network.

Many companies rent or sell portable hotspot devices like these for international travel, but they typically come with a high daily cost. Just like smartphones, though, you can also buy unlocked versions that let you pop in a local SIM card to take advantage of cheap data rates anywhere in the world.

These are the best mobile hotspots unlocked for travel in 2019.

Note: We recommend carefully checking the regions supported by any mobile hotspot you plan to purchase. Not every device supports the different cellular frequencies used in each region or country, which means you may get slower speeds, or no data at all, in some parts of the world.

Best on a Budget: Huawei E5330Bs

Huawei E5330Bs-2 3G Mobile WiFi Hotspot (3G in Europe, Asia, Middle East & Africa), OEM/ORIGINAL from Huawei. Black

Noticeably cheaper than most other unlocked mobile hotspots, the Huawei E5330Bs is a good, no-frills travel Mi-fi device, albeit with a few limitations. 

Small and light, the device fits easily into a pocket. It’s also very easy to use, with little setup required. In most cases, you’ll simply be able to drop in a SIM card, turn it on, and be connected straight away.

Speeds, however, aren’t great. If you’re after a 4G Mi-Fi device, you’ll need to go for one of the other options below. The E5330Bs only supports 2G and 3G networks, and with top speeds of 21Mbps down/5Mbps up. you won’t want to connect more than one or two phones to it at once. 

  • Battery life: Up to 6 hours
  • Size: 3.5 x 2.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Weight: 1.8 ounces
  • Networks: 2G, 3G. 21Mbps down, 5Mbps up (max)
  •  Connections: Up to 10 simultaneous devices
  • Coverage: Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa, Oceania

The Huawei E5330Bs doesn’t work in most parts of the Americas, including the United States. If that’s where you’re going, consider the E5577 model instead. Discussed below, it’s a more expensive option, but still typically costs under $100.

Finally, while the battery life isn’t terrible for a low-cost device, it won’t be enough to get you through an entire day of regular use. If that’s what you plan to do, you’ll need a small portable battery pack to charge it up on the move.

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Pros
  • Cheaper than most other unlocked mobile hotspots
  • Small and light
  • Easy to use
Cons
  • Slow, due to no 4G/LTE support
  • Doesn’t work in most of the Americas
  • Battery doesn’t last an entire day


Best for Flexibility: GlocalMe G4

GlocalMe G4 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot, Worldwide High Speed WiFi Hotspot with 1GB Global Data & 8GB US Data, No SIM Card Roaming Charges International Pocket WiFi Hotspot MIFI Device-White

The GlocalMe G4 is one of the best mobile hotspots we’ve come across, with a killer feature. The device lets you use either the inbuilt data plans for convenience or a local SIM to slash costs, whichever you prefer.

We’ve published a full review of the predecessor G3 in the past. Despite a couple of minor niggles, we found it to be the best mobile Wi-Fi hotspot for international travel overall, especially if you’re regularly on the road.

The latest model is basically a slimmer, lighter version with all the same features. It uses 4G/LTE networks by default, dropping back to 3G or 2G when necessary. You’ll get good speeds as a result, up to 150Mbps download and 50Mbps upload over LTE.

  • Battery life: Up to 15 hours
  • Size: 5.4 x 2.8 x 0.5 inches
  • Weight: 6.7 ounces
  • Networks: 2G, 3G, 4G/LTE, up to 150Mbps download, 50Mbps upload
  •  Connections: Up to 5 simultaneous devices
  • Coverage: Global, in 100+ countries

With the maximum five devices connected at once, web browsing, maps, and even streaming video should still work well. The device ships with just over 1GB of global data included, which you can use via the internal “cloud SIM” in any of 100+ supported countries.

Once it’s finished, you can buy local or regional packages as needed, often at a surprisingly reasonable rate. “Unlimited” data plans are capped at 2GB, however, after which speeds drop significantly.

You can put local prepaid SIM cards in either or both of the unlocked nano slots, and switch between them and the cloud SIM at any time. The device has a simple touchscreen interface, and it doesn’t take long to get used to how it works.

Battery life is good, at up to 15 hours of continuous use. You can even use the G4 to charge up your other devices via the USB-C port, which is a nice touch.

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Pros
  • Good global coverage and speeds
  • Very flexible data options
  • Good battery life
  • Simple touchscreen interface
  • Nothing else quite like it
Cons
  • Unlimited cloud data plans have speed caps
  • Small number of simultaneous connections


Best for All-Round Value: Huawei E5577

Huawei E5577Cs-321 4G LTE Mobile WiFi Hotspot (4G LTE in Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa & 3G globally) Unlocked/OEM/ORIGINAL from Huawei WITHOUT CARRIER LOGO (Black)

The “big brother” of the budget-focused E5330 (above), Huawei's E5577 removes most of the limitations of the cheaper model while still staying affordable. For your extra cash, you’ll get 4G/LTE support in most of the world, and at least 3G in the Americas. This makes it a much better international pocket Wi-Fi choice for global travelers.

The faster top speeds let you connect several phones or tablets to the E5577 without major slowdowns, at least in areas with 4G/LTE service. The interface isn’t as slick as the touchscreen-based version on more expensive models, but other than when installing a new SIM card, you’ll barely need to use it. 

  • Battery life: Up to 6 hours
  • Size: 3.7 x 2.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Weight: 3.5 ounces
  • Networks: 2G, 3G, 4G/LTE, up to 150Mbps download, 50Mbps upload
  •  Connections: Up to 10 simultaneous devices
  • Coverage: 4G/LTE in most regions (limited in the Americas), 2G/3G elsewhere

The hotspot is slim and lightweight enough to drop in your pocket, but that lack of bulk comes at a price: lack of space for a big battery. Expect no more than six hours of continuous use out of it, and potentially less if you have several devices connected or are in a low-signal area.

Overall, the E5577 makes a lot of sense for travelers who want a simple, easy-to-use Mi-fi device that works in most of the world and doesn’t cost a fortune. We’d like the battery life to be better, but that’s the only real conern, and is easy enough to get around with a portable charger if needed. 

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Pros
  • Good global coverage and speeds
  • Reasonable price
  • Small and lightweight
Cons
  • Short battery life
  • Limited 4G/LTE support in the Americas


Best for Fast Downloads: Huawei E5787

HUAWEI E5787Ph-67a (Unlocked) 4GX WiFi PRO Touch Screen Display Modem+Dual Antenna Port WT

The best feature of Huawei's E5787 is its speed. LTE Cat6 support provides download speeds of up to 300Mbps, making this one of the fastest mobile hotspots you can buy. You can also connect up to 10 devices at once, so everyone can take advantage of the extra bandwidth.

The sleek design allows the E5787 to fit easily in a pocket. A slick touchscreen interface makes it easy to see important information at a glance, and change more advanced settings as needed.

You’ll get 4G/LTE coverage in many parts of the world (but not necessarily the Americas), dropping back to 2G or 3G service elsewhere. If you’re in an urban area with crowded airwaves, you’ll appreciate being able to switch the Wi-fi network between 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz for a better connection.

  • Battery life: Up to 10 hours
  • Size: 4.2 x 2.4 x  0.7 inches
  • Weight: 1.8 ounces
  • Networks: 2G, 3G, 4G/LTE, up to 300Mbps download, 50Mbps upload
  •  Connections: Up to 10 simultaneous devices
  • Coverage: 4G/LTE in most regions (limited in the Americas), 2G/3G elsewhere

Despite the small dimensions and extra power requirements of that high-speed data, you’ll still get up to 10 hours of battery life. In a pinch, you can even charge your phone or other USB devices from the hotspot if you need to. 

As good as the device is, however, it’s worth noting that recent price drops on the Huawei E5885 (below) often see it selling for a similar price. If you don’t mind the extra weight, the premium features and longer battery life may make it a better option.

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Pros
  • Very fast max download speeds
  • Good global coverage
  • Dual Wi-fi bands
  • Slick touchscreen interface
  • Small and lightweight
Cons
  • Relatively expensive
  • Limited LTE support in the Americas
  • Small size means shorter battery life


Best for Extra Features: Huawei E5885

Huawei E5885Ls-93a 300 Mbps 4G LTE Mobile WiFi Hotspot (4G LTE in USA (AT&T, T-Mobile), Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa, LATM, Venezuela & 3G Globally) 25 Hours 6400 mAh Battery

Many Mi-fi devices, especially the lower-cost models, have small batteries that go flat after a few hours of consistent use. You’ll have no such problem with the Huawei E5885, which should last an entire day or more, and includes several other premium features to justify its higher price.

Like the E5787 (above), this is one of the fastest mobile hotspots you can buy. LTE Cat6 support ensures blistering downloads of up to 300Mbps in much of the world, and 3G/HSPA+ coverage elsewhere. You can also connect up to 32 devices at once, so if you feel like providing internet service for your entire tour group, it’s totally possible.

The hotspot’s extra features may mean you can leave some of your other travel gadgets at home. Rather than toting a portable charger, for instance, you can use some of the 25-hour battery life to power other devices via the USB port. Helpfully, the small hand strap doubles as micro-USB cable. 

  • Battery life: Up to 25 hours
  • Size: 4.4 x 2.7 x  0.9 inches
  • Weight: 6.9 ounces
  • Networks: 2G, 3G, 4G/LTE, up to 300Mbps download, 50Mbps upload
  •  Connections: Up to 32 simultaneous devices
  • Coverage: 4G/LTE in most regions (limited in the Americas), 2G/3G elsewhere

The E5885 also removes the need for a dedicated Wi-Fi range extender, since it can take an existing wired or wireless connection and share it over Wi-fi. Both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz are supported, which helps improve the signal in urban areas with congested airwaves.

It’s more durable than most other portable hotspots, with a faux-leather cover that provides some protection from spills and stains. All of the ports are also covered by a rubber cover, helping keep liquid and dust out when they’re not being used.

This is a high-end device, with a price tag to match. Given the premium features, however, and the ability to leave other gadgets at home because of it, the E5885 still provides good value for money for many travelers.

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Pros
  • Very fast max download speeds
  • Good global coverage
  • Doubles as a portable battery and Wi-fi extender
  • Some dust and liquid protection
  • Great battery life
Cons
  • Relatively expensive
  • Limited LTE support in the Americas


Main image via rawpixel

About the Author
Dave Dean

Dave Dean

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Founder and editor of Too Many Adapters, Dave has been a traveler for 20 years, and a geek for even longer. When he's not playing with the latest tech toy or working out how to keep his phone charged for just a few more minutes, he can probably be found sitting in a broken-down bus in some obscure corner of the planet.

Comments

  1. Avatar

    I don’t quite understand the purpose of a mifi. Assuming you are travelling you would want an unlocked phone, so why not just use your phone and setup a wireless hotspot?
    First and foremost I’d rather have an unlocked phone first than a mifi. However I do have a mifi as a secondary device with built in Sim for those times when I arrive in country and dont want to mess about looking for the best phone/data sim package.

    1. Dave Dean Author

      If you’ve already got a MiFi, I guess you already understand the purpose of it? In most cases, if you’ve already got an unlocked phone, and only need to share an Internet connection with other devices occasionally, you’d just set up a hotspot on your phone. For those who have a locked phone, who don’t want to drain their phone batteries by leaving the hotspot running for long periods, and/or are traveling as a couple or group, an unlocked MiFi can be more appropriate.

    2. Avatar

      I agree. And if you were going to buy one for the reasons mentioned in Mr. Dean’s reply, why not just buy a cheap android phone in the country you’re in. You can use it is a hotspot, and as an unlocked phone, on about the same budget.

      That being said, most countries cell providers sell their own branded Mifi’s for less than 20 bucks and are guaranteed to work on their systems.

      1. Dave Dean Author

        Buying a branded MiFi locally is also an option, but mainly for infrequent travelers, or those who keep returning to one country, because it’s locked to that provider. This article is geared towards those who want the flexibility of using one device and local SIM cards in many countries.

        A cheap Android phone works too, for those who want to go down that path.

        Personally, I just buy a good unlocked phone and use it with local SIMs, hotspotting as necessary. Given how many companies continue to rent and sell MiFi devices, though, there’s definitely a market for them among a segment of the traveling population.

    3. Avatar

      Personally I want one to replace the crappy, intermittent and annoying DSL Internet connection my parents’ home has (there is only one provider in this area because no company wants to invest in proper cabling).

      They don’t really use more than 2GB per month so it wouldn’t cost more than the DSL connection and it would be infinitely more reliable. However, they don’t want to deal with setting up their phones, so a centralised access point would be better. It would possibly also have much better signal than mobile phones because of external antennas, which would make it possible to use it with the data plans from the cheaper cell companies that don’t have good reception in this particular area.

  2. Avatar

    Gave to agree with stuart, I can’t find a need for these things, seems simpler to just switch to a t mobile phone plan. I’ve been traveling the world for years and years with a t mobile phone with free international data plan, just works for free in country after country, seemless, when you step off the plane you have service

    1. Dave Dean Author

      Totally agree, but not everyone is from the US, or wants to switch to T-Mobile even if they are. Cheap or free international roaming is still a rarity in most of the world, sadly.

    2. Avatar

      Just a note to be careful… Someone I know did the exact same thing as you — traveled for years on a T-Mobile plan. A month or so ago, they let him know they were canceling the plan. Apparently there’s something in the fine print of your contract that says it’s free as long as it doesn’t go into excessive use (or something like that). I’m not sure what the threshold is for excessive use, but people who are planning to be location independent for long periods of time (or indefinitely) might not want to depend on a T-Mobile plan if there’s the possibility of it being canceled on them.

      1. Dave Dean Author

        Yep, it’s happened to a few people who travel extensively overseas with a T-Mobile plan. Definitely worth being aware of!

      2. Avatar

        yes, I’ve been overseas for 2 months and didn’t know that there is a max data and have been getting warnings that I am roaming. I’ve been listening to the radio on the way to/from work. So I am trying to figure out the best mifi to get for here. I have seen this one that advertises “Cat16 1Gbs download”. Is that really true? What is Cat 16?

      3. Dave Dean Author

        Cat16 is one of the high-speed LTE data standards, which supports speeds up to 1Gbps. The hotspot you link to does seem to have that capability, but whether your carrier supports those speeds — and whether you’ll ever see anything like that in real-world conditions — is another question entirely. 🙂

        You definitely don’t need anything like that kind of speed for streaming radio, though, so don’t feel the need to buy a high-end MiFi like this unless you have a particular reason to.

  3. Avatar

    Thanks for the heads up, never heard of any average user having any plan revoked. Quite the opposite really, had a $1200 data charge last nov 2016 due to a 24 day Mediterranean Cruise i was on, one glitch with the International free roaming is cruise ships networks if your phone switches to them are not covered for free. T mobile refunded the charges without batting an eye.

    Where t mobile goes the rest slowly follow…. unfortunately reluctantly….check your other usa carriers they all have plans of some sort for international use, not any where like t mobile but at least starting to. I know for sure at&t does

  4. Avatar

    Keep the gadgets coming, always enjoy getting your updates!

    I’m waiting for them to put a small solar panel into a cell phone to trickle charge and extend your battery time, or how about a trickle charging rolex, movement charging device like in my submariner? Lol

  5. Avatar

    Love all the new gadgets Dave and the site redesign is cool. My question is this: If I buy a local sim and add a cheap data plan (currently in Thailand for 199 THB or about 5 USD/ month extra and link it to my MB Pro, how is getting a MIFI going to serve me better?

    1. Dave Dean Author

      Thanks Philip! Assuming you mean you’ll be using the SIM in your phone and tethering it, there’s little benefit to a MiFi for your situation. It’s most useful for people with locked phones who can’t use local SIMs in them, or those who want to share a connection between multiple devices without draining the battery on their phones

  6. Avatar

    Hi Dave, thanks for a great article. We are currently a couple travelling all over UK & Europe for 3 months. We bought a three.co.uk Sim which allows 12gb data per month for Ukl20 & includes all countries…. Yaaay thought we… Until we discovered it’s locked for hotspot/tethering. So we can’t hotspot our tablets or other phone. No Netflix on tablets. ? It appears the best option is a Mifi. But where to buy one in Switzerland or Italy is the next challenge. ? Cheers

    1. Dave Dean Author

      Yeah, it can be tricky buying in other countries, especially if there’s a language barrier. If you’re going to be somewhere for any length of time (or can receive mail at a hotel or elsewhere further along in your trip), Amazon has English-language sites in the UK and Germany, and most vendors are happy to ship within the EU.

  7. Avatar

    I have an unlocked Galaxy S5 and my carrier is Metro PCS. I travel to areas where Metro provides cell service, but not internet service. I thought I was going to buy one of these to gain wifi access, but now wonder if there is a way to tap into another carrier (such as AT&T) just using my unlocked phone? I’m new at this, so a detailed response will really help me understand.

    Thanks!

    1. Dave Dean Author

      You do have another option — just getting a SIM card with an appropriate data package from a different carrier, and swapping between your Metro PCS SIM and the new one as needed. Remember that you won’t have access to your normal phone number when you do that, though. Calls will go to voicemail, and texts will queue up for a few days, or until you put your main SIM back in.

      Since this site is aimed at travelers, we typically recommend prepaid SIM cards that can used while visiting a country, and then discarded. Assuming you live in the US, though, you can also consider post-paid options, which may provide somewhat better value.

      Either way, you’ll need to decide which company is best for you, likely based on coverage in the areas you’re going, and the cost. Take a look at this post (and the comments) for various suggestions. If you’ll be using the new SIM infrequently, you’ll also want to check how often you need to top up your data package before the company disables it for inactivity. Usually it’s at least three months, but again, just double-check if it’s likely to be a concern.

  8. Avatar

    Dave, I’m looking for wifi routers which can be carried from one country to another and which accept sim cards of different operators from different countries, to use for team meet-ups. What would be your recommendations? Any advice would be massively appreciated!

    1. Dave Dean Author

      Any of the routers in this article meet your basic requirements, but I’d suggest the Huawei E5786, for a few reasons. The most important for use with a team is that it can handle up to 10 connections, and is one of the few such routers that supports high-speed LTE data — the more people you have connected, the faster speeds you want to have. It’s also small, light, and has good battery life.

      I don’t know how big your team is, but if you’re going to have close to, or more than, 10 devices connected, I’d suggest getting two such routers, with a SIM card for each. A single cellular connection, even LTE, is usually too slow to handle much more than that in real-world conditions.

  9. Avatar

    Hi Dave, do you know for the devices you recommended – does it all support a wide range of spectrum? or spectrum band like ie 700MHz, 1800MHz?

    My only concern would be for this device to be compatible with as many local SIM cards and local tel cos as possible since that’s the purpose of purchasing one.

    1. Dave Dean Author

      It varies depending on the device. In general, the more you pay, the more frequencies are supported. That said, you’ll get at least 3G coverage in most countries with most devices, since there’s a less global variation in 3G frequencies. With 4G/LTE, though, it’s a different story.

      You’ll want to check the exact details for any device you’re planning to buy, though, if you need coverage for a particular frequency band.

  10. Avatar

    Hi Dave,
    I live in the Philippines and have both Mifis from SMART and Globe cellphone nets and have an iPhone that works wit them, but don’t know if these Mifis would/can work in the US?

    If they do, what should I get from the US?
    Is there anything to do here in the Philippines before I go?

    1. Dave Dean Author

      Without knowing the manufacturer and model of your Mifis, or whether SMART and/or Globe lock them to their own networks, I can’t really answer your question, sorry.

      Generally, assuming they’re unlocked, you should be able to get 3G coverage on AT&T or T-Mobile’s networks with most Mifi devices, using a prepaid SIM. There’s nothing to do in the Philippines as far as the devices themselves go, but you definitely need to confirm whether they’re SIM-locked or not. Many carriers lock their Mifis, especially the discounted/subsidised models.

  11. Avatar

    Hi Dave,

    I am travelling on a Glocalme and I am highly satisfied with the product because of the virtual SIM Cards. Its true that the price for the data is generally a bit higher than buying a local Sim Card. But when I stay in a country for short and also calculate the price for the SIM-Card I have to pay, then glocalme often turns out to be cheaper not to mention all the trouble to get a local Sim Card in place like eg. India.

    However, I am looking since a while for another brands with virtual sim cards but could not find any. Do you have an idea why this is? In my opinion thats the technology of the future.

    Best,
    Oli

    1. Dave Dean Author

      As far as I can tell, there’s nothing different about Glocalme’s inbuilt SIM to other international SIM cards you can buy (see here) — you buy voice/text/data packages from Glocalme, and use them in whatever country you happen to be in.

      The interesting bit is having that SIM inside an Mi-fi device that also has a standard unlocked SIM slot, so you can choose which one you want to use — the inbuilt SIM if you’ve just arrived or will only be somewhere a short time, or a local SIM if you’ll be in a country for a while and want to save money.

      It is a bit surprising that other companies aren’t doing this, although it might be that it’s seen as too complicated to explain and sell to average customers, or because there’s less money to be made — for most of these companies, they’ll make far more on selling the high-priced international service than on the device itself.

  12. Avatar

    Hello,

    I work in Remote Areas across the Caribbean, Haiti to be exact. My job consists of uploading and downloading for a good 50% of the time if not more. I have to share data with my partners across the globe. I need something that goes fast enough so I can work efficiently. The time is very valuable in the field I work especially when it comes to my boss making decisions.

    Thank You

    Chris

    1. Dave Dean Author

      Your speeds will be restricted much more by the mobile networks in Haiti than the MiFi device you use to connect to them. There’s a little bit of LTE coverage in parts of Port-au-Prince with Natcom, but other than that, it’s 3G at best, and 2G or nothing elsewhere.

  13. Avatar

    Hello,
    I’m interested in your opinion on the Skyroam Solis. I don’t see anything on the Solis or its predecessor from Skyroam. Your thoughts, please.
    Thanks
    Glenn

    1. Dave Dean Author

      It’s not an unlocked Mifi device — you can’t use a local SIM card in it for cheap rates, which is why we haven’t discussed it here.

      At $9/day for up to 500MB/day of LTE data, it’s comparable to some of the other international SIM cards (or hotspots with international SIM cards in). You can check out our thoughts on several other variants of those here.

  14. Avatar

    Not sure if this is the right place to post this question. But as a traveller I sometimes end up in some remote locations that have spotty cell service. I get a few bars, depending on which way the wind is blowing. Do MiFi Devices have a ‘stronger’ or more ‘powerful’ connection to the networks ….or would it be the same as a cell phone?

    1. Dave Dean Author

      I doubt you’d notice much, if any, difference, unfortunately. The battery life on many MiFi devices is relatively low as it is, so they don’t tend to ramp up the cellular radio power very high.

  15. Avatar

    Hello,
    I’ve just bought an unlocked mobile hotspot on eBay to take on my trip to the UK. Planning on buying a local data only sim there. I was wondering if there’s a way to check if it is indeed unlocked, before I leave for my trip, and make sure that it will work with the sim I buy in the UK? (I bought a Alcatel 4G LTE Linkzone MW41)

    Thanks

    1. Dave Dean Author

      Hi,
      The best way to find out ahead of time whether it’s unlocked is to try using it with two different SIM cards from two different providers (eg, AT&T and T-Mobile, assuming you’re in the US). They don’t have to be data-only SIMs, but they do need to have cell data access. Beg, borrow, or steal from a friend. 🙂

      I can find very little information about that device online, particularly as regards a reliable list of the cellular frequencies it supports. As a result, I can’t tell you whether it’ll work in the UK or not, sorry!

      1. Avatar

        Thanks for the help!! “GSM bands: 850, 900, 1800, 1900” – is this perhaps the info you needed?
        So with the assumption and hope that it works in the UK, should it work with not-data-only SIMs too? (so a normal sim with a text and call deal)

      2. Dave Dean Author

        Yep, that’s helpful – thanks! Based on that, you should get at least 3G coverage with any of the UK providers.

        And that’s correct about using a normal SIM. If you get a better data package with a normal SIM than a data-only one (which sounds silly, but often happens anyway), you’ll be able to use it in your hotspot.

  16. Avatar

    So the mobile hotspot came in the mail and I tested it with an AT&T sim and it worked fine! (supposed to be a T-mobile product) So I guess it’s unlocked. Now, assuming pre-paid is the type of sim I need to get, how do I keep track of how much data I’m using and make sure I don’t go over? like if I buy 2GB worth of data for example, and use it in the mifi and not my phone, is there a way to keep track? Or will it just stop working once I’ve used all 2GB? I have no idea how prepaid sims work.. (I don’t even know if that’s the type I’m supposed to get ?) I’ll be overseas for about a month, Amsterdam and Norway for 3 days each and then the rest in the UK. I’m thinking I’ll buy the cheapest one in Amsterdam for Ams+Nor and then buy another one in the UK with a UK carrier so it has better coverage all over the UK. Good idea or no?

    1. Dave Dean Author

      You’d usually get an SMS when approaching your data limit, but since the SIM will be in a hotspot rather than a phone, you won’t receive that text. Some providers offer an app that lets you monitor the usage, or you can often do it via their website. Failing all that, it’ll just stop working, or get extremely slow.

      Buying a cheap option for Amsterdam and Norway, then switching to a UK SIM, is a good choice, mainly because competition in the UK prepaid SIM market makes it noticeably cheaper than the Netherlands and Norway. You may also get better coverage, depending on which provider you choose to go with.

  17. Avatar

    Is there any option where purchasing a sim isn’t needed? I don’t want the hassle in a place I’m unfamiliar with. Travelling to Nigeria. Thank you

    1. Dave Dean Author

      You can roam with your phone company from home, buy an international SIM card before you leave, or use the Glocal device mentioned in this post, which lets you use either the inbuilt international SIM or a local SIM as you wish.

  18. Avatar

    Hey Dave….I just ran into this one online and looks like a winner….but can’t find much about it. My daughter will be in Vietnam for 5 weeks, then Capetown for 5 weeks then Buenos Aries for 5 weeks all going to school so she wants to be able to crack open her MAC and do work any time, any where without worrying about wi-fi and coverage. Does this look like it would do the job? MIOWIFI Global HotSpot https://miowifi.com/product/miowifi-buy/
    Looks like $199 to buy then she will just need to get a Sim card in each market? Thanks for your help.

    1. Dave Dean Author

      I’ve never heard of that device, but from reading that link, it looks like you can’t use local SIM cards in it. Instead, you need to buy service from the provider — so it’s basically a hotspot with an international SIM card inside. If you’re looking for something with maximum flexibility, I’d go for the GlocalMe G3 mentioned above, which lets you use either the ‘international SIM’ approach, or stick a local SIM card in to save money, as you wish. The devices themselves are a bit cheaper, too.

  19. Avatar

    There’s this one mifi model which I found quite interesting except for it being rather pricey. It’s the TP Link M7450, an upgrade of the M7350 featured here. Its reviews online seem very OK. Will be traveling to Europe, particularly Poland, Germany, and France, soon but am still in a quandary whether to purchase a MIFI or an open line cheap smartphone that can act as phone and hotspot at the same time. For one, I dislike removing my Philippine sim card from my phone to insert a data sim thereby disallowing me from receiving important calls and text messages while vacationing.

  20. Avatar

    I work in Bahrain and travel through UAE etc. I need to make sure I get one that works GSM on these carriers. Also, I was under the impression MiFi devices had better gain. I use my Huawai P10 as a hotspot from time to time but the gain is not the best in more remote areas. ~JG

    1. Avatar

      I tried a simple experiment using a smartphone as a hotspot vis-a-vis a mifi. You’re right. A mifi has better gain than a phone used as a hotspot. Besides, a phone tends to heat up thereby shortening battery life. For a short needed access to the internet, a phone will do just fine. However, when you need to be continuously connected while in transit, it’s really better to have a mifi.

  21. Avatar

    Hey Dave, I am looking for a jack of all trades: Do you know a Mifi device that can run on Verizon (CDMA) as well as on the in Europe commonly used GSM frequencies, when the respective SIM card is inserted? Ideally it would even run on all carriers world-wide, and be as light as possible. Thanks a lot for any help in advance!

    1. Dave Dean Author

      Hi Teddy,

      I don’t know of any hotspot that will give you coverage on both Verizon CDMA and European/global GSM frequencies, unfortunately. That said, Verizon is moving to 4G/LTE across its network, so in theory you should be able to find a device that will give you what you’re after that way.

      I say “in theory” because Verizon is particularly painful about only certifying/allowing particular devices on its network, so even if the cellular frequencies match, Verizon may refuse to activate the SIM in that device.

      So, in short, you’ll probably need to pick a device that is compatible with Verizon’s LTE frequencies alongside the global ones, and then confirm with Verizon that you’ll actually be allowed to use it on their network. :-/ You can try going the other way (asking Verizon about an unlocked device that is compatible with its network and can be used with local SIMs overseas), but good luck getting a sensible answer — in my experience, Verizon reps only know about the products they sell, and all of the Verizon hotspots I’ve come across are locked to their network.

      1. Avatar

        Hi Dave, thank you very much for your reply!

        I was afraid you would come back with this answer and did some research as well but I am not tech-savvy enough to judge reliably: How about the GlocalMe U2? Can you tell me if from the purely technical point of view (assuming that Verizon would indeed activate a SIM in it) the U2 could run on Verizon and also on European GSM frequencies? It appears to a layman like me to cover CDMA as well as GSM…

        Thank you very much for the other propositions which are less than optimal but very solution-oriented!

      2. Dave Dean Author

        I’m not sure about the U2, but the reviews of the G3 suggest that people are getting service with Verizon in the US. That’ll probably be with the cloud SIM rather than a local SIM, but at least means the device is physically compatible. It’ll be using Verizon’s LTE network, which isn’t CDMA. Both the U2 and G3 are compatible with European GSM networks (I used the G3 in a couple of European countries last year with no problem).

        If you want to double-check about any of this, it might worth posting the question direct to GlocalMe through their website.

  22. Avatar

    Hi Dave,

    I do like the the GlocalMe arguments that when you first arrive somewhere you have data – I just arrived recently in Saigon and the airport wifi was down and I had to get an Uber – I had to find a stall that would help me out luckily because the cost through Telus would be very high in Vietnam. Also using MAPS whenever you are lost or finding transportation is useful or sometimes just finding general info that you might need unexpectantly. If it is just a 2 day drop in I don’t want to shop for a local SIM.

    If the G3 is recommended to shut off the app and just go online to work it as the app uses battery power, then what is it giving you vs the U2 which is lighter and smaller?

    Usually my 7+ can last all day if I watch what I am doing so that the recharging ability is not that important and adding extra weight and size into a jacket pocket is a pain.

    What else does the G3 give me?

    Any suggestions as size and weight with all the other stuff I carry electronically become a consideration.

    Thanks, Ted B

    1. Dave Dean Author

      The G3 has a few things going for it over the GlocalMe U2 — that extra size is due mainly to the bigger battery, so it lasts longer between charges. You can also use it to juice up your own devices, as you mention, and having a (touch)screen means you can configure things like APN settings directly on the device, as well as see at a glance how much data you’ve used etc, without having to use the app.

      If you’re someone who usually carries a portable battery anyway, it makes sense to buy the G3 and ditch the separate battery, since you’ll save space/weight overall. If you don’t carry a battery now, and don’t care about the extra features, by all means save a few bucks and go for the U2 instead.

  23. Avatar

    Hi Dave:

    Going to be living in a van/rv for some time, need an Internet solution. Huawei E5786S seems best for fast and down/up, but in Canada there are no “data only” options which is painful. Is the GlocalMe G3 a contender even though much less oomf than the E5786S? Appreciate your thoughts, thanks. Kept the Huawei Vodafone Mobile WiFi Hotspot R216 Pocket WiFi I bought in NZ last year, it was a fabulous device, but locked, unfortunately, to Voda-NZ.

    1. Dave Dean Author

      Hi Sue,

      If it helps, you don’t need to use a data-only SIM in the Huawei E5786S (or other models of hotspot) — a standard voice/text/data SIM will still work, you just can’t use the calls and texts. Whether it makes sense financially to do that can be a different question, but there’s usually not all that much difference in the price.

      If you went with GlocalMe’s own data packages, the best pricing I can see for Canada is €29 (~$50 CAD) for 3GB of data for a month, or €12 (~$20 CAD) for 1GB. That’s probably not too bad by Canadian standards, but you’ll need to do your research with different providers to see exactly how it compares.

      You may also want to contact GlocalMe to find out who its service partners are in Canada, to ensure you’ll get coverage wherever you are. Of course, with the GlocalMe G3, you’ve also got the option of using a local SIM either in Canada or elsewhere at some point if you choose to.

      1. Avatar

        Thanks very much, Dave . Yes, the cost of cellular is painfully expensive in Canada. I am leaning toward GlocalMe G3 mostly for option of either/or. There are no data-only cellular options in Canada, so with the Huawei E5786S my only option is one of the carriers, but will really miss my land-based ADSL for down/up and constancy. Much appreciate your feedback.

  24. Avatar

    I”ve had good luck with AT&T. I have an AT&T hotspot which I”ve used for a few years but this winter I took the Canadian SIM card out of my unlocked smart phone and stuck in an AT&T go phone SIM card bought at WalMart. I use the smart phone as a portable hotspot replacing the old data only hotspot, unlimited talk and text and 6gigs/month of data with a one month roll over of unused data for $45/month. I used a US campground as a US address and pay on-line with my Canadian issued US$ card, probably a C$ card would work. With the SIM you have to use it every 60 days to keep the phone # active but AT&T indicates that you can do it by going to the $2 plan (one day of service, that”s what I”m going to do). You can also use the plan in Canada, they pair with Rogers (not sure how long you can use it, I”m trying it out now!). IIRC the SIM was $10.

  25. Avatar

    Hi! I’m traveling to ny in May. Can you help me with the best device? I’m thinking to buy a pre-paid T-mobile. Is it good? Thank you so much.

    1. Dave Dean Author

      I haven’t used any prepaid T-Mobile hotspot device I’m afraid, although I have used a prepaid T-Mobile SIM in the past, which worked well in my unlocked phone.

  26. Avatar

    Good article, one point I feel needs mentioning, Huawei has been implicated in data harvesting through its devices via specifically inserted chip. This news broke back in December last year, and has resurfaced with Australia, Great Britain and the US banning use of the devices for federal employees. Good advice for business users too IMHO.

    1. Dave Dean Author

      There’s been no hard evidence emerge regarding that, particularly in Huawei’s consumer devices, which is why I’m happy to recommend the company’s wireless hotspots. If that changes, I’ll be sure to make mention of it, and potentially change the recommendations.

      There’s also no “federal” (ie, national government) employee ban on using Huawei devices outside the US that I’ve seen, only on installing the company’s infrastructure gear to power upcoming 5G networks. The UK seems to have backed away from even doing that in recent weeks.

  27. Avatar

    Are there any more non-Huawei options? Unless you don’t mind China spying on you…

    1. Dave Dean Author

      See my reply to the previous comment for my thoughts on the Huawei/spying thing as it relates to consumer devices. Regarding other options — unfortunately no, I haven’t found anything else worth recommending from other manufacturers.

  28. Avatar

    Is there any unlocked mifi that works with Sprint (CDMA 3G) and GSM (tmobile) carriers? I live in a place where only satellite or cellular wifi is available, so want to use mifi as a hotspot for multiple devices. However, I want to switch carriers if not satisfied with Sprint. Also, Sprint will deprioritize to 3G when congested

    1. Dave Dean Author

      Not that I’m aware of, sorry. CDMA is so rare these days that there’s no real incentive for manufacturers to produce MiFi devices that work with it, especially dual CDMA/GSM variants.

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