Best Mobile Wi-Fi Routers 2020: MiFi Hotspot Buying Guide

What is a mobile Wi-Fi router?

Mobile Wi-Fi, or MiFi, comes in the form of a portable Wi-Fi router that allows you to connect multiple Wi-Fi devices to a single 4G data SIM in a router and get online wherever you go. That includes smartphones, tablets and laptops and they’re particularly handy when travelling.

If it’s still a little confusing, here are some of the benefits of getting a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot.

You can connect multiple devices: Some MiFi devices let you connect 10 or more devices to a single hotspot, which will work out a lot cheaper than paying for a mobile data plan for each of those devices.

You can connect Wi-Fi-only devices to a mobile data connection: Tablets are great to use at home, but what about on the train, on the beach or by the pool? Wherever you can get a phone signal, you can use MiFi to create a wireless network and get online from any Wi-Fi device.

You can save money on your next tablet: Buying a tablet with a 4G data connection adds around £100 to the price, and that’s before you consider the monthly fee for your data. Use some of that money to buy a MiFi router instead and you’ll never need to buy a 4G tablet again, nor base your purchasing decision on whether a cellular option is available.

You can reduce roaming charges: Most mobile operators offer free roaming in the EU, but fixed-fee roaming elsewhere, allowing you to take your home tariff with you for a set cost. Rather than paying this extra charge on all your devices, turn off data roaming on them and connect them all to a mobile hotspot. You’ll pay this charge only once, but get all your devices online.

You can avoid using slow hotel Wi-Fi: In a similar vein, for those hotels that still charge for Wi-Fi, you can get the kids online all day and at a lower cost than what the hotel would charge. Better still, you can avoid using the same network as all the other guests, which is usually slow and often has poor signal in your hotel room.

You can add 4G connectivity to a 3G device: If you’re still using a phone that doesn’t support 4G networks (which often use different frequencies abroad), MiFi allows you to speed up your mobile internet connection.

You can get faster download speeds: Even if your device already supports 4G, you could potentially get faster download and upload speeds by switching to a MiFi that supports a faster connection.

You can share storage across your own mobile network: If your MiFi supports a microSD card, you can share that storage across all your devices, which is especially handy if they don’t support expandable storage themselves.

What is the best 4G Wi-Fi router?

TP-Link M7350

MyWebspot

MyWebspot

Skyroam Solis

Skyroam Solis

TP-Link M7450

TP-Link M7450

Skyroam Solis X

Skyroam Solis X

GlocalMe U2

GlocalMe U2

Three Huawei E5573

Three Huawei E5573

How do I choose a mobile router?

When it comes to choosing a MiFi device, you have three options:

  1. You can get a free or low-price router from a mobile operator in return for a fixed monthly subscription
  2. You can buy a network-unlocked router to which you add a data-only SIM of your choice, with much lower monthly payments
  3. You can hire a mobile router to cover only the period you need (see MyWebspot or Skyroam Solis, both reviewed below)

Many people will automatically go to their mobile operator for a MiFi device, since it’s an easy solution and you don’t need to pay anything up front. But this isn’t always the best idea.

If you buy a MiFi router from a mobile operator it will be locked to that network, preventing you from shopping around for the best data deal. You will also most likely pay over the odds if you choose to pay nothing up front but tie yourself into a two-year contract.

For example, EE’s 4GEE Mini with 30GB of data is available for free on a £22-per-month two-year plan. Over the two years you’ll pay £528.

By comparison, if you buy the mobile router yourself (most are between £50 and £100), you can get a data-only SIM plan which can cost you less than £200 per year if you don’t need unlimited data. Currently, there’s an amazing deal from Vodafone which gets you 60GB of data for just £9 per month.

Better still, you can subscribe to a rolling monthly contract, allowing you to move on at any time with only 30 days’ notice – though the monthly cost will likely be higher.

All UK mobile operators supply MiFi devices, but remember that not all routers are created equal and the one supplied by your mobile operator may not be the best.

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