You might call it MiFi. You might call it a personal mobile hotspot. Or maybe you just call it plain old mobile Wi-Fi. Either way, it lets you get online with multiple devices wherever you are.
A MiFi device (or mobile Wi-Fi device) is a small gadget that you can slip in your bag or your pocket for broadband on the go. Switch it on, and it connects to the local mobile network, then broadcasts a Wi-Fi signal so you can hook up your laptop, smartphone, tablet, or whatever other gadget you need the internet on. Useful, right?
Have a look at our full guide for the complete lowdown on mobile Wi-Fi – or keep reading to find out how to get the best deal for you on one of these handy little gizmos.
Choosing a mobile Wi-Fi deal
Most mobile Wi-Fi devices offer the same basic thing: Wi-Fi that you can connect your devices to when you’re out and about. But there are some factors you should consider when choosing a MiFi deal.
For example, you should consider how many devices you’ll want to connect at the same time. While some MiFi devices let you connect five devices simultaneously, others can support twice or three times the number of devices.
While some MiFi gadgets can tap into faster 4G and 5G networks, others are only 3G-compatible.
And you’ll want to think about the battery life – the higher the milli-amp hours (mAh) number, the longer it’ll last between charges.
All MiFis are small and designed for using on the go, but some are more compact than others. So, if you’re after something truly pocketable, size is something to consider.
Additionally, some include special features, such as a microSD slot for quick file transfer, or a charging cable for your phone or tablet.
4G or 5G
With 5G being rolled out across the UK, you can now access much faster mobile speeds of around 150-200Mbps. You’ll just need to make sure your MiFi device has a 5G SIM card and is compatible with 5G networks.
However, 5G isn’t as widely available as 4G. And if it is available, the speed you actually get depends on the strength of your connection, which can vary throughout the day.
Although 4G is slower, it’s more reliable and cheaper to boot. Plus, it’s much more widely available – it’s highly likely you’ll be able to get a stable connection wherever you are.
Longer term mobile broadband contracts, such as 12-month or 24-month ones, spread out the cost of your device to make it more manageable – often with nothing to pay upfront.
On the other hand, buying outright and paying for your data allowance every month means you aren’t tied down to a contract, and you’re free to change your allowance whenever you like. If that suits you better, look for one-month or 30-day contracts.
Allowances on mobile Wi-Fi range from a steady 4GB per month to unlimited data. If you’ll only use your MiFi for occasional browsing, a lower allowance should suffice. But if you want to watch Netflix, stream a several hours of music, or work on the go, choose a plan with a more generous usage limit.
If you think your usage may fluctuate, or you’re simply unsure how much you’re likely to get through, buy a device outright on a 30-day deal, and you can change your allowance every month to suit your usage.
Networks that offer MiFi and mobile Wi-Fi
Before you sign up to a deal, always check you can get decent enough coverage in the places where you want to use your MiFi. Visit our page to read more about mobile coverage.
How do I compare hotspot data plans?
When comparing MiFi data plans, first think about the amount of data you’ll need per month, as well as the speeds you get and whether you want a 4G or 5G connection.
Then, look at contract lengths and monthly costs. Consider how long you’ll use your MiFi – while 24-month contracts will have a lower monthly cost, it’ll work out as more expensive if you’re not planning to use your MiFi for the full contract length.
Some plans also come with rewards or freebies, such as monthly data boosts.
What does MiFi mean?
MiFi means ‘mobile Wi-Fi’. It’s a portable and compact wireless router that acts as a Wi-Fi hotspot. It uses 4G or 5G, so you can connect your devices to the internet even without a fixed-line broadband connection available.
Can I get unlimited data MiFi?
Yes, you can. All the providers that offer MiFi also have unlimited data plans you can add.
Who are the best providers when it comes to Mobile Wi-Fi?
And with 5G coverage becoming more common, the likes of O2, Vodafone and Three now also provide 5G-compatible MiFis.
What are the best MiFi devices?
Some of the major networks, like Three and O2, use Huawei devices. On the other hand, EE has its own line of gadgets: its 5GEE WiFi and 4GEE WiFi Mini 2020.
However, the best MiFi for you depends on your needs.