CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. How we test routers

Clear 4G+ Mobile Series S USB modem review: Clear 4G+ Mobile Series S USB modem

Clear 4G+ Mobile Series S USB modem

Dong Ngo SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews
CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.
Dong Ngo
4 min read

The Clear 4G+ Mobile Series S USB modem is an excellent alternative to the LG VL600 LTE USB Modem from Verizon. It has a better design, similarly fast speeds, and, most importantly, it comes with an unlimited 4G data plan.


Clear 4G+ Mobile Series S USB modem

The Good

The Clear 4G+ Mobile Series S USB modem offers a very fast Internet connection for a single computer and comes with an unlimited 4G data plan. The modem has a nice design with built-in software and can work with both 3G and 4G networks.

The Bad

The Clear 4G+ doesn't allow for text messaging. Its download speed fluctuates and the modem runs rather hot when used for an extended period of time.

The Bottom Line

The Clear 4G+ Mobile Series S USB modem makes a great Internet connection for anyone who lives in an area where Clear's 4G coverage is available.

The only major drawbacks we see is that Clear's cellular coverage is not available everywhere. And in our testing, the Clear 4G+ registered more fluctuating download speeds than Verizon's VL600.

If you live in and travel within Clear's coverage, the Clear 4G+ Mobile USB modem is a great deal at $115 (with a two-year contract, or you can lease it for $6/month), considering it comes with an unlimited 4G data plans for just $55/month.

Shopping for a faster internet speed?
We’ll send you the fastest internet options, so you don’t have to find them.

Design, ease of use, and features
The Clear 4G+ Mobile Series S USB modem looks like a big piece of candy, with a round, flat shape. Its USB head is collapsible when not in use, and can swivel 90 degrees when opened up, allowing it to fit in any USB port, even those that are typically hard to reach.

On top it has two status lights, one for 3G and one for 4G. These lights flash green when the respective connection is in use. The modem works with both 3G and 4G networks, one at a time. It also has a small port for an external antenna (not included), which is a nice feature when you're far way from a coverage area.

The feature we like the most about the Clear 4G+ modem, which you won't find in Verizon's VL600 modem, is that it includes a small amount of storage in the form of a CD-ROM drive. This drive contains the Clear Connection Manager software that prompts you to install it the first time you plug the modem into a computer. This is really convenient in case you need to use the modem with another computer in which the software has not yet been installed.

The Clear Connection Manager software took just about a minute to install; after that, it runs each time you plug the modem into a computer. It takes about 30 seconds to search for the network; then all you have to do is click on "Connect" to establish the broadband connection. We found that the original software included within the modem tends to pick the 3G network as default, and you have to manually switch to the 4G network. However, after an update, which was done automatically, this problem was fixed.

Unlike the VL600, the Clear 4G+ modem doesn't allow text messaging, but it does come with the ability to manage the laptop's Wi-Fi connection. This allows you to switch between using the cellular connection and a Wi-Fi network conveniently in one place.

Data plans and performance
Like the VL600, the Clear 4G+ modem was very fast in our tests. However, in our trials, its download speeds fluctuated a lot from between 5Mbps and even 14Mbps. It's important to note that even at just 5Mbps, which is the slowest we experienced with the modem, the connection is still more than fast enough to stream high-def content and can download large files without much delay.

This might have occurred because we tested the device in our offices here in San Francisco, which is not one of the cities where Clear's 4G coverage is readily available, according to the company. We found that its speeds were the most consistent at around 9Mbps for download and 3Mbps for upload, which was still extremely fast. Your experience might vary depending on where you are in the U.S.

At this speed you can download a full DVD (around 800MB) in about 12 minutes and a full 1080p high-def movie (about 10GB) in about an hour and a half. The good news is that Clear offers its 4G+ modem with an unlimited 4G data plan for just $55/month. In contrast, the top-tier 4G data plan from Verizon offers the data allowance of just 10GB/month and costs a whopping $80. This means that with Clear, you can download or stream as many movies as you want without having to worry having to pay more (sometimes significantly) than the monthly fee.

Note that Clear's data plan for the 4G+ modem also includes the 3G portion, which is not limited but with an allowance of just 5GB/month; you'll have to pay another 5 cents for each additional megabyte. However, unless 4G is unavailable where you are, you won't need to resort to the 3G portion.

We found that the 4G+ modem becomes rather hot and remains so after about 15 minutes of use. Though it never got hot enough for us to worry, we were a little concerned and wondered if that would affect its life expectancy.

CNET's cellular Internet speeds (in Kbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Clear 4G+ USB modem (4G)
Sprint MiFi 2200 (3G)

Service and support
The Clear 4G+ comes with a standard one-year warranty for the hardware and the same support that Clear has for its other cellular services. The company offers 24-7 technical phone support, and at its Web site, you can also instantly chat with a customer service representative and find a section dedicated to the modem in case you need help getting started or troubleshooting problems.


Clear 4G+ Mobile Series S USB modem

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 7Performance 9Support 8