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The Best Wi-Fi Hotspot - TheWireCutter

The Best Wi-Fi Hotspot - TheWireCutter

The Best Wi-Fi Hotspot

The Best Wi-Fi Hotspot
Photos by Kyle Fitzgerald

We spent more than 30 hours testing three new Wi-Fi hotspots against our previous picks and found that the Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot AC791L is still the best, most reliable option when your phone’s tethering feature just won’t cut it. The Jetpack’s battery life is among the longest we’ve seen for any hotspot we’ve tested, and this model takes advantage of the largest and (in two of the three surveys we monitor) fastest LTE network in the US.

Our pick

Many people who need only occasional Internet access for their own laptop can simply tether to their phones as necessary, but Verizon’s Jetpack AC791Lprovides a more stable connection and can handle multiple computers and tablets for extended periods. It has been our pick since early 2016, and it remains our favorite because it gets almost 20 hours to a charge, supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and can even recharge your phone in a pinch. Those features put it ahead of newer models like the Jetpack MiFi 7730L, which gets only about 12 hours of run time. But it’s really the network that matters most here, and Verizon’s is the best for LTE. If you’re not on Verizon, it’s worthwhile to open an account if you need a hotspot, since the regions where Verizon is strongest tend to be the same places you can’t easily find free public Wi-Fi. (For more on why Verizon’s network is superior, read our guide to the best cell phone plans.)

Runner-up

If you’re already an AT&T Mobile Share subscriber, and you like its coverage in the places you go, consider the ruggedized AT&T Unite Explore. It’s cheaper to add a line to an existing Mobile Share plan than to start a new one with a different carrier, and AT&T’s network is good enough in most places for you to avoid spending extra for a new plan with Verizon. The Unite Explore lasted 22.5 hours in our battery-life test, offers almost all of the Verizon hotspot’s network options (it’s a similar model from the same manufacturer), and matches its competitor’s device-charging capability.

The current hotspots for T-Mobile and Sprint can’t compete with either the AC791L or the Unite Explore, even setting aside those services’ weaker networks. Besides, their unmetered-data plans both allow 10 GB of tethering a month at a lower cost than the comparable deals from AT&T and Verizon.

Why you should trust us

Who is this for, and is your smartphone enough?

How we picked

How we tested

Our pick: Verizon Jetpack AC791L

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Runner-up: AT&T Unite Explore

International hotspots: Wait

The competition

What to look forward to

Sources

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