Mobile Hotspot vs Travel Router [Pros + Cons Explained]

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Not all Wi-Fi-enabled devices are the same or function in the same way. Several key differences exist between a high-quality mobile router and a mobile hotspot.

Travel WiFi terminology can be complicated, whether you’re shopping for your first device, upgrading, or finding the best option for your particular needs. Understanding the differences can substantially impact your data speeds, mainly if you are a regular traveller.

Is a Mobile Hotspot a Router?

Both create a mobile hotspot, so in that sense, they are similar; however, there are key differences that we’ll get into the next section.

What’s the Difference Between a Mobile Hotspot and a Mobile Router?

A travel router converts cellular (3G, 4G, and LTE) signals into Wi-Fi for use at a fixed location; the mobile broadband router provides a local Wi-Fi hotspot.

Basically, it’s a WiFi router that you take with you on your travels. The router uses a SIM card instead of a wired connection to the internet; you will have a private internet connection wherever you travel. In addition, most mobile routers can connect up to ten devices to the internet simultaneously. 

When you wish to share internet access with several devices at once, this is the ideal solution, so multiple family members who want to use their devices simultaneously will also benefit from this solution.

If your travel router is unlocked, you have the freedom to use it with whichever network provider you wish. You can then shop around for the best deal or the ideal amount of data to meet your requirements. A locked ( specific to one network provider) SIM might be the better option for static use, enabling you to choose the best network for your particular area of the country. You might be able to get a better deal on the data package.

As the name suggests, a mobile hotspot, or personal hotspot, is a device that acts as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot, allowing users to access the internet on the go. You can purchase mobile hotspots as a separate item; however, they are now available on most smartphones.

Devices capable of broadcasting wireless signals to other devices while on the move are mobile hotspots. To avoid confusion, this is not the same as a hotspot, which you can find in public areas within airports, shopping malls, and coffee shops.

As a general rule, a mobile hotspot works by converting an LTE connection from your phone into a Wi-Fi signal. After that, you can “connect” your computer or another device to it as you would to a Wi-Fi network at home or in public.

Another way to create a mobile hotspot is with a MiFi device. Suppose you are frequently in areas without a WiFi connection? If you wish to connect several devices at once or use a lot of data when not at home, a MiFi device will benefit you rather than setting up mobile hotspots with your smartphone.

You will still require a SIM card for data, but the advantages are that you won’t drain your smartphone’s battery; you can connect several devices at once and preserve the data on your phone’s SIM.

Is a Mobile Router Better Than a Hotspot?

In most cases, the mobile router is a better option than a mobile hotspot; here are the key differences between the two.

4G Router vs Mobile Hotspot

Mobile Hotspot

  • Mobile hotspots act as mobile internet networks by converting an LTE connection into a Wi-Fi signal. Laptops and tablets can then access the network
  • Mobile hotspots are available in various types, including standalone devices that fit in your pocket or your smartphone has an integrated personal hotspot
  • You will need a data SIM either as part of your smartphone plan or a separate data SIM plan to use a mobile hotspot device (MiFi). Hotspots can use data rapidly, so it’s something to consider if you only have a limited data plan 
  • It is possible to use a mobile hotspot to connect several devices, but the range is limited, and it may be slower than a Wi-Fi connection

Mobile Router

  • 3G and 4G routers provide a secure internet hotspot
  • You use it with a prepaid, pay-as-you-go, or a contract SIM card
  • They can run on batteries, mains supply, or 12v
  • Mobile routers have external antennas that are more powerful than what is available in a smartphone or MiFi device 
  • Some mobile routers have antennas positioned outside, say, a static home or campervan and are capable of picking up signals that phones and MiFi devices cannot. 
  • You can connect several devices to the router at the same time
  • Mobile routers typically have LAN ports for connecting wired devices, such as gaming consoles
  • Mobile routers will accept locked or unlocked SIM cards so that you can shop around for the best deals

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