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Home Technology Explained Dongles vs. portable hotspots: Mobile Internet devices explained

Dongles vs. portable hotspots: Mobile Internet devices explained

Gone are the days when most of us have been in touch with phone lines. Gone are the days when Ethernet cables were necessary to achieve high speeds. We go online wirelessly and the range of routers is not limited to us. Mobile Internet devices can bring us online anywhere with a strong connection to the cell tower.

Do you connect everything via a portable wireless access point or smartphone? Should you insert a USB dongle or WWAN card? Everyone has their own pros and cons. Let’s see.

Portable Mobile Connections

Coolpad Surf portable wireless mobile hotspot
Photo credit: Coolpad

Portable Mobile Connections access the same mobile network as your smartphone. You can add them as a second device to a shared data plan, or you can purchase a device that has its own data-only plan. Data plan rates are usually similar to the amount you spend on phones.

These mobile Internet devices typically have a battery life of 10 to 20 hours. Some models work as portable batteries that can charge your phone or provide shared storage through a microSD card slot. Many have screens that show how much data you have used for the monthly breakdown. The details change depending on what model you buy.

With the introduction of 5G, portable wireless hotspots can better function as your home’s primary Internet connection. This is because the latency of 5G is lower, so devices can communicate faster with each other. This is the key to gaming and VR.

Some loaders, such as 2019 HTC 5G pole, can support up to 20 devices and provide enough battery power to cover day use. But because the deployment of 5G networks has been slow, most areas still rely on 4G LTE.

One downside to a portable mobile hotspot is keeping it in addition to your phone, tablet, or laptop. The cost of the data plan may also increase. If you add only one to a shared data plan, you may be able to switch instead of a smartphone.


  • Relatively long battery life
  • Supports more devices
  • The right unit could be the primary source of Wi-Fi in your home
  • Additional features such as informative display, shared storage, Ethernet port or spare battery
  • If used exclusively for work, it can help monitor Internet usage


  • Publishing
  • You need to carry another device


4G wireless USB dongle
Photo credit: Amazon

Like portable wireless access points, dongs usually come directly from the carrier. Many look like flash drives, while others look like small modems that you connect to your computer with a USB cable. Attaching one to your laptop gives your computer a cell phone. It can now jump online via Wi-Fi or mobile phone, just like your smartphone. It can share this connection with other devices.

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One big difference between dongs and mobile connections is that dongs don’t take up as much space. Nor do they drain your battery just like sharing a smartphone. So it has to keep the dongle plugged in for it to work, which means giving up the USB port. This is probably not a very big deal on most laptops, but there are many more satisfactory models that bypass the number of ports. Some even have completely removed from full-size USB ports

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Dongles are not limited to USB ports or even computers. Some are connected to the car’s OBDII port, which provides passengers with wireless internet on the road.

Dongle will not take you away from the data plan. You still need one, and they’re not going to be cheaper than buying one for a portable wireless hotspot. Another downside: dongs often require special software. Installation can be slow or annoying. If you’re using a Linux user like me, this could mean you’ll have to jump through new obstacles, or you might be lucky altogether.


  • Cheap prepayments
  • Less drain the battery
  • Takes up less space than a portable wireless access point


  • Typically requires a USB port
  • Special software may be required

Mobile sharing

Don’t want to buy another device? The smartphone you probably have in your pocket might be just all the internet you need. Sounds good, I’m sure. Before you get excited, the disadvantages are considerable. Here is the situation.

Smartphones can provide Internet access to other devices by turning them into access points. Ask your phone to start sharing information, and give the ad hoc network a name. A laptop or tablet can connect in the same way as Wi-Fi. Alternatively, you can connect your phone to your computer with a cable. No matter which method you choose, This is called sharing

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. Wherever you have your phone, you have the Internet.

If you can even connect a 4G phone to a 5G phone hotspot, you’ll experience fast speeds in both, if for any reason you get into a situation.

Doesn’t this mean that everyone who buys their own point of contact is cheated? No. Smartphones aren’t designed to act as hotspots, so they don’t send as far or handle as many devices as separate units. Splitting is a huge drain on the battery. If you use your phone to connect to the Internet for a few hours, wait until you need a charger before the end of the day. Also, don’t be surprised if your cell phone gets a little hot.


  • Fit
  • No need for a separate invoice
  • Only one device to carry


  • Sets the smartphone strain
  • There is often a lower monthly limit involved
  • Not designed to support many devices at once
  • Calls are made, which makes sharing the Internet with others cumbersome


Wireless broadband networks, or WWANs, are something you are more likely to interact with when working than in your own time. These are broadband networks that use a cellular network to keep business computers connected. They can be employees ’laptops, kiosks, point-of-sale machines, or vehicles.

A WWAN card allows your computer to connect to a broadband network using a cellular connection. This allows you to connect to a corporate network anywhere in your company’s WWAN. Typically, the infrastructure is provided and managed by the incumbent.

WWAN is provided directly to companies, not general consumers. For this reason, it is difficult to make a comparison with the options listed above. Don’t think of this as a personal solution for accessing the web. However, keep in mind that if you want to use a wireless broadband network, you need special equipment, such as a WWAN card. Some laptops have this feature built-in.

Which is Better: Dongle or Hotspot?

You may not be surprised to hear that there is no single best answer. For light, casual use, sharing a smartphone is great. Do you work away from home often and need to connect multiple devices? A portable wireless access point can be helpful. Do you have only limited space to work? The USB dongle fits in your pocket.

Or if you’re not particularly interested in another monthly bill, you can stay on the Wi-Fi hotspots instead

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