Best 5G hotspots Android Central 2022
All major carriers in the U.S. have some 5G network up and running with the promise of faster speeds and better latency; two must-haves for a good work experience on the go. Some of the best 5G hotspots with Wi-Fi 6 have enabled high-speed networking on several devices at once. If you're looking to upgrade your hotspot to 5G, the Netgear Nighthawk M5 Unlocked is the best overall choice thanks to its great features, including Ethernet and support for AT&T and T-Mobile network SIMs.
- Best overall: Netgear Nighthawk M5 Unlocked (MR5200)
- Best sub-6 5G hotspot: Inseego 5G MiFi M2000
- Best on AT&T: Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot Pro (MR5100)
- Best on Verizon: Inseego MiFi M2100 5G UW
Best overall: Netgear Nighthawk M5 Unlocked (MR5200)
Netgear is known for making great wireless routers and hasn't missed a day in offering some of the best Wi-Fi 6 routers you can get. Netgear dove headfirst into 5G with its Nighthawk M5 hotspot with Wi-Fi 6. While most people get their hotspots directly from a carrier, this hotspot is unlocked with sub-6 5G support on both the AT&T and T-Mobile networks. That includes low-band and mid-band Ultra Capacity 5G on T-Mobile.
This AX1800 Wi-Fi 6 hotspot is powered by a Snapdragon 55X, which supports most sub-6 5G in use in the U.S. There's a 5040mAh battery with charging provided via USB-C. Netgear also includes a full-sized Ethernet port on the bottom to make getting connected extremely quick and easy. If you live in an area with weak wired internet options, the battery can be removed so you can use the device full-time plugged in.
If you're looking for an unlocked 5G hotspot, this is a great choice.
- Support for most sub-6 bands in the U.S.
- Ethernet built-in
- Fast AX1800 Wi-Fi 6 connection
- Large 5040mAh battery
- Very expensive
- No mmWave support
Best sub-6 5G hotspot: Inseego 5G MiFi M2000
The Inseego 5G MiFi M2000 is a sub-6 5G hotspot available from T-Mobile and UScellular. T-Mobile has a nationwide 5G network covering 305 million people, with more than 165 million covered by its faster band n41 5G. This hotspot supports both bands fully as well as fast LTE as a fallback. UScellular has a much smaller 5G network, even relative to its overall coverage, but it has progressed in 5G deployment. UScellular mainly has 5G in populated areas in Iowa and Wisconsin, but coverage has been working its way to the rest of UScellular's towers.
Both hotspots share a model number, but there are differences between them, so be sure to get the version for the network you intend to use it with. For example, the T-Mobile version comes with a larger 5050mAh battery compared to 3600mAh with UScellular. You can use your MiFi as a battery pack for your phone or tablet, making it perfect for areas with inconsistent power.
This hotspot keeps things simple with a single USB-C port, a small display, and a few navigation buttons for settings. With up to 30 devices supported by its 2x2 Wi-Fi 6 connection, this hotspot should have no trouble keeping up with even a small office if it has to. Of course, LTE fallback is supported so you can get connected even in a 5G dead zone.
- Full support for T-Mobile or UScellular 5G networks
- Up to 5050mAh battery
- Fast 2x2 Wi-Fi 6 connection
- Very compact
- No Ethernet port
- No mmWave support on this model
Best on AT&T: Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot Pro (MR5100)
Much like the unlocked Nighthawk 5G hotspot, the AT&T-branded Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot Pro comes equipped with everything needed for a fast and reliable 5G connection. This model supports both AT&T sub-6 5G and mmWave. Using band n260, mmWave (5G+) has much more limited coverage than sub-6, but AT&T has been diligently expanding its range to dense areas for a couple of years.
AT&T has also announced the intent to bring 5G+ to airports, with seven in 2021 and as many as 30 in 2022. With mmWave often delivering speeds over 1Gbps, this connection is perfect for finishing large uploads or downloads before takeoff. The Nighthawk has a fast enough wireless connection to support even gigabit speeds on Wi-Fi 6.
Like the unlocked model, this hotspot comes with an ethernet port on the bottom, making it easy to connect quickly and securely. It also allows this hotspot to be a stand-in for high-speed home internet if fiber isn't available.
- Sub-6 and mmWave 5G support
- Ethernet built-in
- Fast AX1800 WI-Fi 6 connection
- Large 5040mAh battery
Best on Verizon: Inseego MiFi M2100 5G UW
While every other carrier seems to have put mmWave coverage expansion on the back burner, Verizon has been charging ahead with 75 cities with some level of coverage plus 60 venues. Verizon markets its mmWave 5G as Ultra Wideband, often shortened to UW or UWB. Verizon has also deployed a solid nationwide 5G network sharing spectrum with its LTE network as needed. The Inseego MiFi 2100 5G UW is the perfect fit for this network, with the ability to connect to the entire Verizon 5G network and fall back to LTE.
Like the other Inseego hotspot, 2x2 Wi-FI 6 is included, which supports up to 1201Mbps for 5GHz Wi-FI 6 devices. This is a good fit for a UWB device as Verizon's mmWave network can easily exceed 1Gbps.
A 3500MaH battery is included, which feels a bit small given the capabilities of the device. Inseego says this hotspot should provide all-day battery life, but if you want to charge your phone or tablet from the USB-C port, you may come in quite a bit under.
- Full Verizon 5G support with UWB
- Fast WI-Fi 6 connection
- Very compact
- 3500mAh battery is a bit small
One thing to remember about mobile hotspots like this is they require a specific plan to use. So if you've signed up for one of the best cell phone plans with hotspot data, you'll need to share that connection from your phone. Not only that, but to get the most out of these hotspots, you'll need to have solid 5G coverage in your area. Still, with nationwide 5G networks on the big three carriers, there's a good chance you can get covered.
If you're ready for the upgrade, the Netgear Nighthawk M5 unlocked is the best choice overall, thanks to its support for multiple 5G networks and great hardware features. With an included Ethernet port and a fixed mode to run all the time, this hotspot is the most complete package available. It doesn't support mmWave for top 5G speeds, but should still deliver more than enough speed with a good signal.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Samuel Contreras When Samuel is not writing about networking and carriers, 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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