Best 5G Hotspots Android Central 2020
5G connectivity, in its early days, makes a lot of sense with a hub that you can place in a good location and use with multiple devices thanks to its fast speeds and low latency. Sprint offers its customers the option of using a phone or a hotspot with its 5G. AT&T only offers a hub to business customers. The HTC 5G Hub on Sprint is the best overall 5G hotspot because it brings the newest 5G tech to home and business users alike with ease of use of a touchscreen and Android operating system.
Best Overall: HTC 5G Hub
When you think of a hotspot you probably picture a little box with a clunky user interface and a tiny screen. HTC defies that with its new 5G hub available for Sprint. With a 5-inch 720p touchscreen and Android 9 support, this hub evolves from a backup connection to a complete internet solution.
Supporting Sprint's new 5G network and 4G LTE network, the Qualcomm X50 modem in the HTC 5G Hub should provide high speeds even when moving outside of 5G coverage. It supports Wi-Fi 5 speeds and has a gigabit Ethernet port. It can travel with a 7,660 mAh battery if no power is available. HTC indicates that this hotspot supports up to 20 connected devices, which brings this device close to a complete solution for a home network or even a small office.
Sitting tall like a smart alarm clock at nearly four inches tall, this hub does command more of your desk than some of the smaller hotspots people are more familiar with. Still, with Android 9, a Snapdragon 855 mobile CPU and 4GB of RAM, this hub can act as a Google Assistant device, a music player, or anything else an Android tablet can do.
- 5-inch touchscreen
- Android 9
- Snapdragon 855
- Large battery
- Large device
- Low display resolution (720p)
- No Wi-Fi 6
5G and a big display
With a big display on the front and Android 9 installed, the HTC 5G Hub is a fast and easy-to-control Wi-Fi Hub. This is a high-performing hotspot.
Best for Business: Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot
If you have a business plan or are willing to wait for AT&T to launch its 5G+ network for all customers, the Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot is currently the only option for you. Luckily, it's a good one with compatibility for AT&T's 5G+ network called mmWave as well as LTE Advanced.
While there isn't a store page available yet from AT&T, the official product name for the Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot is the Netgear MR5000 and specifications can be found on Netgears support site. It lacks an Ethernet port but with Wi-Fi 5 support and dual band connectivity, speeds should hold up well for the majority of computing.
With this more traditional setup and less built-in features than the Android powered hub offered by HTC, the Nighthawk's 5040 mAh battery should be able to keep it going during travel when there is no power source available. The Qualcomm's X50 modem in this hotspot has been able to deliver 2Gbps in ideal conditions. This is one to keep an eye out for when AT&T rolls out its 5G+ to everyone. If I had a business account on AT&T and lived in a 5G area, you can bet this would be in my bag.
- Color touchscreen
- Large battery
- Speeds over 2Gbps
- Only available for business
- Small display
- No Ethernet
- No Wi-Fi 6
Best for Business
mmWave 5G and a big battery
If you have a business account in an AT&T full 5G+ coverage areas, then the Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot can deliver unparalleled speeds.
While AT&T and Verizon are also building out 5G networks and in some ways may provide a better experience, Sprint is the only provider that has a map showing exactly where 5G can be accessed. On Verizon, customers could use the hotspot feature on a phone to access 5G on other devices, but this isn't a good longterm solution. For now the only hotspot worth buying is the HTC 5G Hub for Sprint's 5G network.
Sprint currently covers four cities with 5G and is promising five more the year goes on. The fact that Sprint publishes its 5G coverage on its coverage map means that you can tell right away if you are covered by 5G and if it makes sense for you to make the jump to 5G equipment. It's impossible to tell how all of these networks will hold up once more people start using 5G but right now, Sprint is the only one providing a hotspot for normal users as well as a phone in the LG V50 ThinQ 5G
Sprint has deployed its 5G on its 2.5Ghz spectrum, which results in coverage being very similar to 4G LTE but with higher speeds and better response times. While speeds are not going to be as high as some competitors on 5G, the coverage should prove to be much more consistent.
What about AT&T?
Currently only available for business customers, AT&T's 5G mmWave network, short for millimeter wave, can deliver very high speeds, over 2Gbps in some tests, on 5G broadcast between 30 Ghz and 300 Ghz. These high frequencies don't travel very far and don't have great building penetration so there may be more dropping down to LTE than you see on Sprint. With 20 cities listed so far as having mmWave 5G available, this network is certainly worth keeping an eye on if you want to be an early 5G adopter.
Should you buy a 5G hotspot in 2019?
5G is a new wireless technology and has all the drawbacks of any new tech. One example is that both hotspots listed here use Qualcomm's X50 modem. This modem is very capable but the faster and more efficient X55 modem has already been developed and will likely be reaching devices later in the year.
Unless you live in an area that can already take advantage of 5G coverage, there is little reason to buy a hotspot right now. Holding on to your older LTE only device should serve you just as well until the signal is available. However if your area will soon get 5G coverage, these hotspots can get the best of 4G while you wait for 5G to come online.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Samuel Contreras When Samuel is not writing about networking at Windows Central, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.
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