The 6 Best Portable Wi-Fi Hotspots

mesh router

The 6 Best Portable Wi-Fi Hotspots

Key Points

  • Our choice for the #1 Best Overall Portable Wi-Fi is GL.iNet GL-MT300N-V2 Portable Wireless Pocket VPN Router.
  • Portable Wi-Fi hotspots are surprisingly affordable, with prices as low as $35 for the device.
  • With a portable Wi-Fi device or hotspot, you can connect to the internet from anywhere as long as you have a cell signal.
  • When shopping for the best portable Wi-Fi device, consider these items: size, data plan limitations, internet speed & connectivity, and battery life.

When you think of an Internet connection, it is generally a Wi-Fi modem in your house connected through cable. That’s the case for most people, but mobile Wi-Fi connections are relatively commonplace now.

Employees found new ways to get their jobs done when the Corona Virus shut the world down. And in many ways, the new work normal looks different than before the shutdown. Now you can work from the beach or from your RV parked along a ridgeline with spectacular mountain views. Portable Wi-Fi makes it possible! This small internet device operates similarly to your phone’s hotspot. But its service comes from a mobile broadband provider that offers an entirely different data plan from your phone’s.

Having a separate device keeps you from draining your phone’s battery when using its hotspot. And it doesn’t use up your phone’s data. Because even with unlimited plans, many phone service providers throttle your data speed once you reach a certain amount each month. (We’ve been to that rodeo!)

So, after reviewing dozens of options, our ranking for the best portable Wi-Fi in 2023 is as follows:

#1 Best Overall Portable Wi-Fi: GL.iNet GL-MT300N-V2 Mango Portable VPN Router

Best Overall Portable WiFi
GL.iNet GL-MT300N-V2(Mango) Portable Mini Travel Wireless Pocket VPN Router
  • WiFi Router/Access Point/Extender/WDS
  • 2 x Ethernet Ports
  • OpenVPN/Wireguard VPN
  • USB 2.0 Port
  • 128MB RAM
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09/20/2023 02:58 am GMT

The GL.iNet GL-MT300N-V2 Mango Portable Wireless Pocket VPN Router takes top honors for raw performance and is our choice for the #1 Best Overall Portable Wi-Fi. This mini travel router has a micro USB port to get power from your laptop USB, external power banks, or 5V/2A DC adapters. It also has a standard USB port for tethering.

The GL.iNet Mango device converts public wireless or wired networks to a private connection. It comes with OpenVPN Client, compatible with over 30 VPN service providers. So you know your connection remains secure.

 We love that this portable Wi-Fi hotspot is capable of 50 MB/s up and 10 MB/s down. With a data transfer rate of 300.00 MB per second, you get the connectivity you need.

It’s not perfect, though. The OpenVPN Client often kicks can you off the network. Whether this is a function of the network you’re using or the software isn’t clear. But turning the VPN off results in the Mango working correctly. Check out the GL.iNet GL-MT300N-V2 Mango Portable Wireless Pocket VPN Router on Amazon.

Connects to wired or wireless networks to provide a private internet connection.The VPN functionality needs improvement to keep you connected to your desired network.
The data transfer rate is quick enough for most tasks.

Best Smallest Pocket Design: KuWFi 4G LTE USB WiFi Modem Mobile Internet Device

Best Smallest Pocket Design
KuWFi 4G LTE USB WiFi Modem
  • Small and light modem
  • Suitable for parties, travel, business trips, work
  • 150 Mbps high-speed Internet access
  • Coverage of up to 10 meters
  • Compatible with SIM Card frequencies in USA/CA/MX. 
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09/20/2023 02:58 am GMT

KuWFi is the answer for anyone requiring a tiny and affordable modem. This USB portable Wi-Fi connects you to Wi-Fi or a 3G or 4G network using your SIM card of choice. So traveling worldwide is easy with this tiny unit.

Up to ten devices can connect simultaneously, but more connections mean slower response times. The KuWFi data transmission rate is 150 Mb/s, with a maximum 4G upload at 50 Mb/s and download at 100 Mb/s.

A handy feature of the KuWFi is its colored lighting system that alerts you to 4G or 3G options. Fortunately, it also lights up red when your SIM card’s frequency band isn’t compatible, saving you many head-scratching moments. And finally, there’s no signal light if the Wi-Fi device burns out.

On the downside, this small unit has the potential to overheat and burn out the chip if you use it for a long time. Plus, there’s no 5G option. Check out the KuWFi on Amazon.

Small and affordable portable Wi-Fi device.You can’t use 5G networks with this device.
Colored lights indicate your connection status.The chip has a burning-out tendency.

Best TMobile Device: T-Mobile Franklin T9 Mobile Hotspot 4G LTE Wireless WiFi

Best TMobile Device
T-Mobile Franklin T9 Mobile Hotspot 4G LTE Wireless WiFi (RT717) Band 71
  • Small and slim Wi-Fi device
  • Multi-band support (3G, 4G, 4G LTE)
  • Connect up to 15 devices
  • OLED display with text panel
  • Stylish, semi-rugged design 
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09/20/2023 02:58 am GMT

T-Mobile’s Franklin T9 mobile hotspot is the portable Wi-Fi device we use with a monthly T-mobile data plan. It does a superb job of keeping us connected in different places across the United States. If you travel full-time in an RV, working as you go, this T-Mobile device is more than sufficient to meet our connectivity needs.

Franklin T9 supports up to 15 devices at once. So you can connect your laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Its OLED display shows your service status and any relevant messages. There’s also an unlock code in the battery bay. So if you’re traveling to a non-T-Mobile area, insert the code into the Wi-Fi settings, insert your prepaid SIM card, and you’re off. That makes the device much more versatile.

The biggest downside is that some sellers don’t include a SIM card, so verify what’s in the box before purchasing. Check out T-Mobile’s Franklin T9 on Amazon.

This device works within T-Mobile’s colossal coverage area.You’ll need to confirm that a SIM card is included.
You can unlock this device to use with any prepaid SIM card.

Best AT&T Device: NETGEAR Nighthawk M1 4G LTE WiFi Mobile Hotspot

Best AT&T Device
NETGEAR Nighthawk M1 4G LTE WiFi Mobile Hotspot (Unlocked)
  • Connect up to 20 devices on a WiFi network
  • Works with most SIM cards (except Sprint legacy network)
  • Fast download speeds up to 1 Gbps
  • Large 2.4 inch LCD screen to monitor signal and usage
  • One USB port for file transfer
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09/20/2023 02:58 am GMT

Although the Netgear Nighthawk comes unlocked to work with any Nano SIM card, it does work best with AT&T or T-Mobile services. We like how fast the specs are! Depending on your service area and cell tower proximity, you can expect downloads up to 1Gb/s. The uploads are similar to other portable Wi-Fi devices, around 150 Mb/s.

The Nighthawk supports up to 20 devices at a time, so if you’re at a party and want to share connectivity, you can. Or use this at home in rural areas with a nearby cell tower.

The downside is that some users struggle when configuring the APN settings and end up thinking the device is locked to AT&T. Check out the Netgear Nighthawk on Amazon.

Fast download speedsYou may need to configure the APN settings if the device doesn’t get them from the network or SIM card.
Use it with AT&T or T-Mobile for the most straightforward connectivity.

TP-Link designed an excellent portable Wi-Fi device in its AC750 model. The slim design fits right in your pocket or purse and looks pretty sleek. Because looking sleek matters!

Use it to stream or even do a little gaming with the router’s 300 Mb/s internet speed. It’s perfect for acting as a signal repeater to connect multiple devices when a hotel only allows one login per room. Plus, you can charge it with the Micro USB port from your laptop, portable power bank, or adapter.

We like that TP-Link is a trusted name in network devices and accessories. But we don’t like the short cable. It’s only about a foot long, and we’re left wondering what’s up with skimping on the cable length. Check out the TP-Link AC750 on Amazon.

You can use the TP-Link as a signal repeater to improve your signal.The cable is short at around 12”.
You can use the TP-Link as a signal repeater to improve your signal.

Best Worldwide Wi-Fi Hotspot: RoamWiFi 4G LTE WiFi Mobile Hotspot Router

Best Worldwide Wi-Fi Hotspot
RoamWiFi 4G LTE WiFi Mobile Hotspot Router
  • Portable high-speed WiFi hotspot
  • 1GB global data, 10GB local data
  • Connect up to 5 devices at once
  • No SIM Card required
  • Best for business, home, and travel
  • Use in 160+ Countries
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09/20/2023 02:59 am GMT

RoamWiFi offers worldwide portable high-speed internet through this Wi-Fi hotspot. And it has an eighteen-hour battery life on a full charge! Now that’s connectivity you can count on.

It’s roughly the size of your smartphone and comes with one gig of global data and ten gigs of local (within the U.S.) data. Then buy secure local data packages where ever you are from the RoamWiFi app. Data packages are available in more than 160 countries, so you’re covered just about anywhere you go.

The downside to us is that the data packages seem a little expensive, depending on where in the world you’re traveling. For example, we just returned from six months in SE Asia, where a local SIM card costs about USD 15 for 30GB over 30 days. Compare that to RoamWiFi’s charge of USD 79 for the same service.

So we’d advise that you check the service prices in your destination location before buying. Check out the RoamWiFi on Amazon.

Portable WiFi device makes high-speed internet access easyRoamWiFi data charges might be higher than purchasing a local SIM card at your destination.
Handy app for refilling your data package
Data packages in 160+ countries

How to Pick the Best Portable Wi-Fi: Step by Step

When choosing a portable WiFi solution, there are four primary considerations for most buyers.

  • Size
  • Data Plan Limitations
  • Internet Speed & Connectivity
  • Battery Life

Let’s review each of these criteria in more detail.


Most portable Wi-Fi hotspots are pocket-size, so you can easily carry them in a backpack or purse. They range from USB dongle size to just over smartphone size. Ours is about twice the thickness and weight of a cell phone, so it’s a perfectly transportable size.

Data Plan Limitations

Using a portable Wi-Fi device often costs less than unlimited data/hotspot usage on your smartphone plan. You can sometimes bundle Wi-Fi devices with your phone package, and that’s usually a good option.

Within the U.S., we use a T-Mobile Wi-Fi device and unlimited data on our AT&T phone plans. By having both options for connectivity, we generally have service anywhere in the country.

Choose a service provider with the best coverage in your location. And ask your carrier about any hidden costs or potential throttling. You’ll find varying features, so be sure to check into monthly data caps or limits. Nothing is worse than getting throttled after reaching a certain point, even if your plan says it offers unlimited data.

Internet Speed & Connectivity

You’ll find internet speeds on Wi-Fi devices are about the same as speeds for smartphones on the network. So you can often reach 2,000 Mbps on a 5G network.

Portable Wi-Fi devices connect to 3G, 4G, and 5G networks, affecting your internet speed, plan, and device prices. Prepaid carrier hotspots are often cheap but might limit connectivity to 3 or 4G. And while that’s fine for most tasks, some streaming apps may require higher connectivity speeds.

So 5G Wi-Fi hotspots provide faster upload and download speeds. And you’ll get a more reliable wireless technology. But you’ll pay a higher price for them.

Battery Life

Portable Wi-Fi hotspot devices have an internal battery that charges through a USB connection. So you recharge them the same as you do your smartphone. Choose a Wi-Fi device with long battery life, usually a device on the larger side.

Some users purchase large power banks to power their Wi-Fi devices while traveling. Or you can charge them in your vehicle as you drive, just like your cell phone.

What to Know Before Buying Portable Wi-Fi

Before buying a portable Wi-Fi device, here’s some more information about how they work. This small device fits in your hands and acts as a Wi-Fi router. It transforms 3G, 4G, or 5G signals into private internet connections.

You’ll have a “WiFi field” about 30 to 50 feet (10-15 meters) around your device to connect your laptop, tablet, or smartphone to stable internet access. And you don’t need extra software or cables, just the device.

Essentially, portable Wi-Fi devices are like screenless smartphones. They use cellular connections to create Wi-Fi networks. And because that is their only job, they have larger antennas for stronger connections than smartphones.

Using Portable Wi-Fi: What it’s Like

Portable Wi-Fi lets you roam throughout the world to work or study while staying connected. So you can choose to work under the Sun instead of being confined to four beige walls. You’ll get access to the world wide web no matter where you are.

Yes, you can try to rely on public Wi-Fi sources. And you might fare okay. But you also might have terrible connections that leave you missing an important email from your manager or client.

So having your portable Wi-Fi device frees you to work remotely and not worry about connectivity or security issues. But just as a side note, remember that if you opt to use public or shared Wi-Fi, it’s always recommended to use a secure VPN to keep your information safe.

The 6 Best Portable Wi-Fi Hotspots FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What do you look for in portable WiFi?

Consider these four primary things when buying a mobile WiFi device:

  • Size
  • Data plan limitations
  • Internet speed & connectivity
  • Battery life

How do you get the best Wi-Fi when traveling?

You have a few choices for Wi-Fi when traveling. You can use free public or hotel internet, turn on your smartphone’s hotspot, or use a portable Wi-Fi device for your own secure internet connection.

What disadvantages come with portable WiFi?

The burden of portable Wi-Fi is that you need a mobile network connection for it to work. And another downside is that some wireless providers throttle data even when the plan is “unlimited.”

Can you run out of Wi-Fi hotspots if you have unlimited data?

Unlimited mobile data plans often still cap your available data usage. For example, once you reach the “cap,” your data is deprioritized or throttled, so it slows down considerably until the end of your billing period. Then it starts over brand new.

Is portable Wi-Fi available in rural areas?

Check your service provider’s coverage maps for a specific rural location. But consider a mobile Wi-Fi device that can support external antennas for the best coverage.

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