While 5G is still very new, we’ve already seen a handful of 5G-ready phones like the Galaxy S10 5G, LG V50 5G, and the Moto Z4 (with a 5G mod of course). So now, alongside the launch of 5G service in St. Paul, Minnesota, Verizon is announcing its first 5G hotspot: the Inseego MiFi 1000.
Just a warning: with a full retail price of $650, the MiFi 1000 definitely ain’t cheap. However, compared to something like the Galaxy S10 5G which costs $1,300, Inseego’s hotspot seems a lot less ridiculous.
But more importantly, for the select few who have access to a 5G network and the good reason to use it, opting for a 5G hotspot instead of a 5G phone could be a more useful alternative. Aside from the obvious upfront price advantage, by keeping your phone and your 5G connection separated, you also could save money in the long run because you won’t have to replace the fancy screen, cameras, and other components on your 5G phone the next time you upgrade. And with the next wave of 5G-ready phones expected to arrive sometime in the first half of 2020, getting a hotspot instead of a 5G phone is probably the smart move if you desperately need immediate access to 5G.
Unfortunately, normal folk who purchase a MiFi 1000 may not find it all that useful, because, for your $650 (or $27 a month), Verizon is only bundling an extra 50GB of 5G data a month. With the kind of speed you can get on 5G networks—which can deliver download rates in excess of 1gbps—it wouldn’t be hard to blow through your entire monthly data allotment in less than an hour. Verizon is also touting monthly data fees of $85, which is only $10 more than standard 4G LTE data rates, but still doesn’t feel like a great deal.
To make things even worse, the MiFi 1000 costs $50 more than Sprint and HTC’s 5G Hub, which is not only a hotspot, but also has a 5-inch screen, runs a full build of Android, and can even double as a battery pack of sorts thanks to its big 7,660 mAh battery (versus a 4,400 battery for the MiFi 1000) and wired reverse charging feature.
On the flip side, with the availability of Verizon’s new 5G hotspot, switching away from traditional wired internet to 5G-based broadband is now a much more feasible possibility. Though in the end, because Verizon’s 5G network is still only available in a handful of cities (Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, Providence, and now St. Paul), the average consumer can safely ignore gadgets like this for now and leave the testing to early adopters and the enterprise crowd.