There are many mobile routers on the market; Verizon alone offers about half a dozen. Nonetheless, the Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4620L by Novatel Wireless manages to provide enough novelties and features to interest business users who are constantly on the go.
Editors' note: This review was updated on July 3 to correct the information about the included extended battery. The double-capacity battery is not included but is available at select stores as an optional accessory.
The Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4620L by Novatel Wireless is the latest mobile hot spot from Verizon and it's quite an upgrade from the previous one, Samsung's
Though the new mobile router is slightly larger, it comes with lots of improvements, such as faster speeds, much longer battery life, and a much better design. It also includes a built-in WI-Fi-shareable GPS feature and can host up to 10 devices at a time (up from the SCH-LC11's five).
The MiFi 4620L, however, shares the same data plans as other 3G/4G-capable mobile routers from Verizon that start at a hefty $50 per month for a 5GB data cap. The router itself costs just $50 if you're willing to sign up for a two-year contract, or $270 if you're not.
That said, if you're a business user who needs a mobile router to supply a fast Internet connection while being on the go for an extended amount of time, the MiFi 4620L for now is one of the best choices. Those who want to pay less for an unlimited data plan with the tradeoff of not having 3G network access should also check out the
Measuring 3.76 inches by 2.36 inches by 0.53 inch, and weighing just 3.2 ounces, the MiFi 4620L is about the same size as the SCH-LC11. The new router comes with an extra 3,000mAh (double-capacity) battery as an option, which will increase its thickness and weight slightly when used. But even then, it's still quite compact, fitting right into any pocket. Note that this extra battery might not be available for purchase at all Verizon stores.
On top the router has a small OLED screen that shows a lot of information, such as a battery gauge, the number of connected Wi-Fi clients, cellular signal strength, and so on. There are also navigation buttons with which to access even more information via the tiny screen. This is a huge improvement over the Samsung, which doesn't even have a battery gauge.
On one side, the router has a power button that you press once to turn it on or wake it up. To turn it off, you'll need to press and hold it for a few seconds. By default, the router automatically goes in to sleep mode when idle for 30 minutes. Unfortunately, pressing the power button is the only way to wake it up. Other routers, such as the
On the other side are an external antenna port and a standard Micro-USB port for charging via a power adapter (included) and connecting the router to a computer via a USB cable (not included). When connected to a computer, by default, the router only charges its battery by drawing juice from the USB port. You can use its Web interface to change the settings so that it also works as a tethered USB modem. In this case the router can work as a modem and a router at the same time.
To access the router's battery bay, you lift up the bottom cover. The router comes with a choice of two bottom covers to accommodate the different thickness of the two batteries. When the cover is removed, you'll find the default Wi-Fi network's name and its password. This same information is also printed on the back of one of the battery bay covers and is what you need to use the device. All you have to do is turn it on and hook Wi-Fi devices to the network with the provided information and you are set.
Underneath the battery, you'll find a micro-SIM card slot currently hosting a Verizon 4G SIM card. This is the first mobile router I've seen that uses micro-SIM cards, like the iPhone 4 and 4S do.
To access the router's Web interface, you point a connected computer's browser to its default IP address, which is 192.168.0.1 (the default log-in password is the same as the default Wi-Fi password). Here you can change the Wi-Fi password and the name of its Wi-Fi network, and you have access to the router's many features.
Apart from Verizon's own 3G/4G networks, the MiFi 4620L also works with any GSM (850/900/1,800/1,900MHz) or UMTS/HSPA+ (850/900/1,900/2,100MHz) networks in the world. This means that when traveling internationally, you can either roam (and pay a lot) or possibly just swap out the SIM card and use a more affordable local service.
The router supports up to 10 Wi-Fi clients when it's connected to a 4G network; when connected to a 3G network, only 5 clients can access the Internet at the same time, with the rest being part of the Wi-Fi local network only. Speaking of the local network, the router supports Wireless-N, offering a top speed of up to 150Mbps, which is fast enough for light data sharing between connected devices.
Obviously the more devices connected to the router, the slower the performance gets, especially when all of those devices are involved in network activities. To avoid this, you can use the Web interface to limit the maximum connected number of devices to any number less than 10.
The MiFi 4620L offers a lot of other features for a tiny device. For example, it supports NMEA-compliant GPS over Wi-Fi, enabling compatible Wi-Fi devices to use its GPS signal for positioning services. On top of that it supports many other features found in regular-size routers, such as port forwarding and MAC address filtering.
For security, apart from the MAC filtering, the MiFi doesn't support Wi-Fi Protected Setup, a feature that quickly connects WPS-enabled clients to a Wi-Fi network, but it supports all variations of WEP, WPA, and WPA2 wireless encryption standards.
Data plans and performance
I tried the MiFi 4620L around the San Francisco Bay Area and was able to get 4G coverage virtually everywhere with very fast connection speeds. As with all cellular connections, the router's download and upload speeds vary rather dramatically from one place to another, but overall were comparatively very fast. The slowest I experienced during my testing were around 5Mbps down and 3Mbps up. On average, the router managed 10Mbps and 9.8Mbp for download and upload, respectively, making it the fastest of any mobile routers I've tested.
Note, however, that you won't be able to enjoy that speed continuously for very long, since the router's two data plans are capped at 5GB and 10GB for $50 and $80 per month, respectively (additional data will cost another $10 per gigabyte). At full speed, you can burn through those numbers in a couple of hours.
And you have many hours with the MiFi 4620L. With its small battery, I was about to get about 5 hours of continuous usage. Appropriately, the double-capacity battery offers about twice that. Since the router basically turns itself off after 30 minutes of idling, if you just use the connection casually, the two batteries can last you from a few days to a week.
I noticed that the Jetpack takes a very short time to turn on or wake up, making the fact that you have to turn it back on from sleeping less of a hassle. Generally, from being off, the router could get up and running in just about 10 seconds in my testing. Unlike the Samsung's SCH-LC11, which became hot very fast, Novatel's MiFi 4620L remains very cool even during extended operation.
With long battery life, fast connections, and lots of useful features, the Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE MiFi 4620L by Novatel Wireless makes an excellent mobile Internet source for business users. It would be a great device for everyone if it came with unlimited or more-affordable data plans.