While these mobile routers share a few major features such as support for both 4G and 3G networks, and the limit of just five concurrent wireless clients, each has its own pros and cons. In the case of the Samsung 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot SCH-LC11, the main difference is where it matters the most: the Internet connection. It's by far the fastest of the three. On the downside, the Samsung also lacks many features found in the others.
The router's incredibly speedy Internet connection, unfortunately, is counterbalanced by the expense of the two data plans, which have monthly caps of 10GB and 5GB for a cost of $80 and $50, respectively. The router itself costs $100 with a two-year contract.
If you're a business user who needs a fast Internet connection on the go but doesn't do a lot of downloading, or you just don't care about the extra costs incurred when the caps are reached, Verizon's Samsung 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot SCH-LC11 makes the most satisfying mobile router among its peers. For those who are on a budget, however, we'd recommend alternatives from Sprint or T-Mobile.
Measuring 3.5 inches by 2.3 inches by 0.5 inch, Verizon's Samsung 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot SCH-LC11 is about the same size as Sprint's MiFi 4082 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot. It's compact and good-looking enough to be tucked away or show off on the desk.
On top, the Samsung has a large on/off button that you need to press and hold for a few seconds for it to take effect. Next to it is an array of tiny LCDs that show the status of the Wi-Fi network and the cellular network the device is connected to, be it a 4G or a 3G. The router doesn't have a Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) button to support quick additions of wireless clients to the network. This means the only way to connect a client is to enter the encryption key manually. Another thing that users will miss is the lack of a battery gauge. In order to see how much juice left in the battery, you'll have to log in to the router's Web interface, which is a hassle and might not even be possible via a mobile device.
On one side the router has a standard Micro-USB port for charging that has a nifty cover to keep it from getting dusty. Unlike Sprint's MiFi 4082, this port doesn't support tethering, meaning that when it's connected to a computer, the computer won't gain Internet access via the router. This limits the use of the router to Wi-Fi clients only.
Out of the box, the router is set up with an SSID (Wi-Fi network name) and the encryption key, both printed on a label underneath the bottom cap that covers the removable battery. This means all you have to do is insert the SIM into its slot, which is under the battery, turn it on, and get wireless devices connected to this default network, and you're up and running. There's no setup required.
If you want to further customize the device, you can do that by going to its Web interface. From a connected computer, point a browser to the router's default IP address, which is 192.168.1.1.
Verizon's Samsung 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot SCH-LC11 has the least amount of features among the three 4G mobile routers we've reviewed. It doesn't support network storage, lacks WPS, and has no built-in GPS. It doesn't have a port for an external antenna, either.
Nonetheless it comes with a good set of networking features that can be accessed via its well-organized and responsive Web interface. Here you'll get access to the router's basic settings and other advanced features, such as port forwarding, MAC address filtering, and a traffic counter. It's a good idea to check the counter regularly; if you go over the limit, you'll have to pay another $10 per gigabyte.
For security, apart from the MAC filtering, Samsung features all variations of WEP, WPA and WPA2 wireless encryption standards. The MAC filtering would come in when handheld devices, such as VoIP phones, are used, as you don't want to have to fiddle with typing in the encryption key.
In our test, Wi-Fi clients connected to the Samsung could gain access to the Internet but not to one another. This is rather disappointing for those who want to set up a local network for common tasks, such as file or printer sharing.
The Samsung 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot SCH-LC11 works both as a 4G and 3G router with the latter being the backup in areas in which 4G is not available. Both of these count toward the monthly allowance, which is similar to that of the LG VL600 LTE USB Modem. Note that the router's connection to the Internet is very fast, and when connected to a 4G network you can use up the total monthly allowance within just an hour or so of heavy downloading.
As mentioned above, Verizon's Samsung 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot SCH-LC11 excelled where it mattered the most: the Internet connection. In our trials around the San Francisco Bay Area, its connection was by far the fastest. The download speeds varied between 7Mbps and 13Mps, with 9.2Mbps being the most common. Its average upload speed was also around 7.3Mbps. These speeds are comparable to those of very fast cable broadband, if not faster in many cases.
Note that these download and upload speeds could vary a great deal from one city to another, and the numbers mentioned here only reflect our experience in the Bay Area.
For the most part the Samsung 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot SCH-LC11 router worked well, but we noticed that it ran hot, especially when connected to multiple Wi-Fi devices. When used heavily and continuously with a 4G network, it offered around 4 hours of battery life, which is not bad, though relatively short. When used intermittently, it lasted much longer, around 10 hours or so. The router can be set to turn off by itself after a certain amount of idle time, somewhere between 5 minutes and 60 minutes, via its Web interface. As it can power up very quickly, we recommend setting this to lower values to increase its battery life.
We loved the incredibly fast speed of Verizon's Samsung 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot SCH-LC11 but were let down by its lack of features and especially the limited and expensive data plans it comes with. This is a router that is best suited for business users or those who don't do a lot of heavy downloading.