Samsung LTE Mobile HotSpot Pro review: An excellent hot spot that's also a juice pack

The only buttons that the hot spot has are the power button (which you need to press and hold for few seconds to turn the device on or off) and the Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) button, which starts the two-minute window when other WPS-enabled Wi-Fi clients can enter its Wi-Fi network. And these are actually all you need to get started. Out of the box, you just need to turn the mobile router on and you're good to go. If you have devices that don't support WPS, the default Wi-Fi network information, including the network's name and password, is printed on the router's underside by the battery bay.

The Samsung LTE Mobile HotSpot Pro's Web interface is easy to use and offers access to all of its settings. Note how the router is locked to T-Mobile and won't accept a SIM card from a different carrier until it's unlocked.
The Samsung LTE Mobile HotSpot Pro's Web interface is easy to use and offers access to all of its settings. Note how the router is locked to T-Mobile and won't accept a SIM card from a different carrier until it's unlocked. Dong Ngo/CNET

You can reach the battery bay easily by opening the router's bottom cover. The battery is user-replaceable and underneath it is a Micro-SIM slot. In my trial, the router is locked to T-Mobile but it seems like it can be unlocked and used with other carriers. You will need to contact T-Mobile or Samsung to ask how to do this, however.

To change any router settings, including the name and password for its Wi-Fi network, you'll need to use its Web interface. You can get there by pointing the browser from a connected device (including a mobile device) to the router's default IP address, which is 192.168.43.1, and log in with the default password, which is admin. The Web interface is self-explanatory but was rather sluggish in my trial. This is not a big deal, though, since the router generally doesn't provide a lot of customization, which is quite normal for a device of its type. The Samsung is the first dual-band mobile cellular router I've seen. However, it can only work on either the 2.4GHz frequency band or the 5GHz frequency band at one time.

Excellent performance, great battery life, no unlimited data plan
Like most mobile routers I've reviewed, the Samsung LTE Mobile HotSpot Pro doesn't come with an unlimited data plan. Instead you can choose from six plans that cost $20, $30, $40, $50, $60, and $70 that come with 500MB, 2.5GB, 4.5GB, 6.5GB, 8.5GB, and 10.5GB monthly data caps, respectively. If you go over your cap, you won't be charged extra, but the data speed will be throttled down to equivalent to that of a 2G connection for the remainder of the billing cycle.

And you will feel the pain because in my testing in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Samsung LTE Mobile HotSpot Pro offered incredibly fast 4G LTE speed, averaging some 20Mbps for downloading and some 10Mbps for uploading. I also noticed that I could get the 4G connection almost everywhere in the area and the data speeds didn't fluctuate a great deal. Most of the time, I could easily get more than 15Mbps for downloading. Note that this was my experience in the Bay Area; nationwide, T-Mobile's 4G LTE coverage is still generally modest.

Compared with other hot-spot devices I've reviewed, these were by far the fastest I've seen. However, note that most of the devices on the chart below were tested a while ago; it might just be that at the time their respective 4G connection wasn't up to speed. Nonetheless, the Samsung LTE Mobile HotSpot Pro indeed offers a great mobile Internet experience for those living and traveling within T-Mobile's 4G coverage.

Performance Tests

Samsung LTE Mobile HotSpot Pro
10.25
20.3
Novatel MiFi Liberate
8.71
10.97
Jetpack 4G LTE 890L
8.06
9.83
Novatel Jetpack MiFi 4620L
9.61
9.81
Samsung 4G LTE SCH-LC11
7.22
9.2
Clear 4G+ Apollo
3.24
9.02
Clear Spot Voyager
2.21
7.22
Sierra Wireless 4G LTE Tri-Fi
1.41
6.86
T-Mobile Rocket 3.0
2.38
6.57
Netgear Zing
3.1
6.5
T-Mobile 4G Mobile
1.81
3.48
T-Mobile Sonic 4G Mobile
1.18
2.97
Novatel MiFi 500 LTE
3.1
2.75
Sprint MiFi 4082
0.92
2.47
Verizon Fivespot (3G)
0.68
1.27

Legend:

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Note:

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

As a charger the device can be used to charge any mobile device that uses a standard USB charger, which is basically all smartphones and tablets on the market. In my trial, I was able to charge my iPhone 5 from empty to full using a full charge of the Samsung LTE Mobile HotSpot Pro, without completely depleting its battery. The interesting part was that the device was till working as a mobile router during the time it charged the iPhone, and the phone was also turned on and working during the time. (There's no option to make it work just as a juice pack though you can turn off its Wi-Fi network via the Web interface. In this case, you can press on the WPS button to turn the Wi-Fi back on.)

That said, the device -- when working solely as a mobile router -- had very impressive battery life. I could get two days of regular usage out of it with two mobile devices out of a single charge. That was about double that of the Verizon Jetpack 4G 890L.

Conclusion
The Samsung LTE Mobile HotSpot Pro is by far my most favorite mobile router thanks to its superfast cellular Internet and versatility. While the $170 price tag is quite steep, you have the option to pay that off (with no interest) over two years, making it quite attainable. Compared with other similarly priced hot spots on the market, such as the Verizon Jetpack 890L , the Samsung HotSport Pro is a much better deal just by offering almost double the battery life alone.

As with all mobile hot spots, however, the value of the device depends a lot on whether or not you can receive cellular signal while on the go. That said, if you live and travel within T-Mobile's 4G LTE coverage, which is still relatively modest for now nationwide, the Samsung LTE Mobile HotSpot Pro is easily one of the best mobile cellular routers to date.

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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Where to Buy

Samsung LTE Mobile HotSpot Pro

Part Number: SM-V100T

MSRP: $169.99

Available direct from T-Mobile.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Connectivity Technology wireless
  • Weight 5.15 oz