The Clear Spot 4G - Apollo is the first 4G-only mobile router we've seen and we love it. The device provides very fast Internet connections, works very well out of the box, and displays all the important information on its large and helpful LCD screen. It's also affordable, costing around $99 with no contract required (or it can be leased for $6 per month), and comes with unlimited data plans that start at just $45 per month.
On the downside, the Apollo, though compact, is a little bulkier than other mobile routers, such as the Sprint MiFi 4082 or the Samsung SCH-LC11. Also, as a router, it doesn't support Wireless-N but just the old Wireless-G (802.11g) standard, which caps at 54Mbps. And the fact that it doesn't support 3G means that you won't have a backup connection when you're out of Clear's coverage area.
Nonetheless, if you're within Clear's 4G coverage, all things considered, the Apollo makes one of the best, if not the best, 4G mobile Internet access solutions on the market.
Design, ease of use, and features
Completely square and measuring 3.4 inches on each side and .7 inch thick, the Apollo is a compact device. It's not compact enough for you to slide it into a wallet or hide it in your pocket, though it's very light, just 4.5 ounces. On the bottom, the device comes with two ports for external antennas (not included) and a slide-open cover for a battery bay that houses an included lithium ion 2200 mAh rechargeable battery. The router won't work without a battery even though it comes with a separate power adapter. It can also be charged using a standard Micro-USB cable via any USB charger, such as that of an iPad or a computer.
On one side, the Apollo has a power button that you need to press and hold for a few seconds to turn it on or off. On the other side, there's a mute button to keep the router completely silent. This is because the router otherwise emits a short and rather quiet ringtone each time a Wi-Fi client connects to or disconnects from its network. We actually found this ringtone incredibly helpful, but for those who want to use the router incognito, there's the option to mute it.
On top the router has a large (for a router of its size) LCD that shows important information, including the 4G signal strength, number of connected Wi-Fi clients, battery gauge, Wi-Fi network's name and its encryption keys, and current speed of the 4G connection. By far, this is the most informative LCD display we've seen on a mobile router. To conserve battery, the LCD would turn itself off after about 10 seconds or so, but turns back on after a single press of the power button.
There's nothing to setting up the Apollo, other than turning it on. You can further customize its features and settings via its Web interface, by pointing the browser of a connected computer to its default IP address of 192.168.15.1. The default password to log in is "admin." Via the Web interface you can change the router's wireless network (or SSID) and access a relatively comprehensive set of other features. For example, you can choose to handle work with a DynDNS server, assign fixed IP addresses, or forward certain ports to connected clients. For security the router supports all versions of WPA and WPA 2, although it doesn't support the legacy WEP encryption method.
Unlike some other mobile routers we've reviewed, such as the T-Mobile 4G Mobile Hotspot ZTE MF61, the Apollo doesn't offer the ability to send and receive text messages via its Web interface, nor does it have a built-in GPS function to offer localized services. The router doesn't offer tethering, either, meaning when plugged into a computer it only charges its battery and doesn't work as cellular modem.