Pocket WiFi is a great way to get online while on the go. It’s small, lightweight, and can easily fit into your pocket, backpack, or purse. But how does this magic happen? How does Pocket WiFi work?

Pocket wifi explained with a full buyer's guide

I’ll walk you through all the details of Pocket WiFi so you can decide if it’s the right choice for you, and I’ll answer many questions I hear from site visitors. This article will be one of the very first of a series of friendly, informative articles for you about Pocket WiFi. You can also consider this to be a buyer’s guide to help you make informed decisions about future Pocket WiFi purchases.

Let’s go!

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

What Is Pocket WiFi?

“Pocket WiFi” is any WiFi-capable device that can connect another device (including smartphones, computers, and tablets) to the internet using a pocket WiFi (often referred to as a MiFi), mobile hotspot, or internet dongle. It functions similarly to a home WiFi “hotspot,” creating a WiFi network in a 10- to 15-meter radius all around you, yet it fits in your pocket!

A rechargeable battery powers it and can be used anywhere within a cellular network’s coverage area. You can even take it with you when you travel and use it to get online in other countries. 

There is no need for software, wires, or installation. You only need to turn on the Pocket WiFi and enter the password to start connecting your personal gadgets.

How Does Pocket WiFi Work?

Pocket WiFi works by directly connecting to your local cellular tower network. The device uses a SIM card to connect to the cellular network and is powered by a rechargeable battery. The battery life will vary depending on how much you use the device, but you can usually expect around 6-8 hours of internet usage.

What Are Some Features of Pocket WiFi?

Wondering about what some of the features of Pocket WiFi are?

Typical characteristics of Pocket WiFi include: 

  • Quick, easy, and private internet access, no matter where you are in the world
  • Ability to connect multiple devices 
  • Ability to join networks and link devices together
  • LAN connection capability that tethers
  • Significant reduction of data roaming costs
  • Ability to automate the device’s On/Off cycles

How Do I Use Portable (Pocket) WiFi?

Using portable WiFi is a simple process that involves a few basic steps:

  • Turn on the portable wireless router after receiving it.
  • Insert the SIM card into the router.
  • Connect your devices to the network created by the hardware.
  • Some portable WiFi providers may offer apps that allow you to access WiFi setup data, which can help set up and manage your device.

It’s important to note that the specific steps and instructions may vary depending on the provider and the device you are using. Read the instructions carefully and follow them closely to ensure optimal performance.

If your pocket wireless router has an Ethernet connector, you can also use an Ethernet cable to connect the hardware to a device. This is a plug-and-play option that typically does not require any additional configuration.

What Are the Benefits of Pocket WiFi?

One of the main benefits of Pocket WiFi is that it is extremely portable and convenient. You can take it with you wherever you go and use it to get online without having to worry about finding a public WiFi hotspot. This makes it ideal for travelers who need to stay connected while on the go.

Pocket WiFi is also much more secure than using public WiFi hotspots. Since the device connects directly to your local cellular network, you don’t have to worry about hackers or malicious software.

Can I Connect My Pocket WiFi to a Router?

If you are looking to extend your range, you can easily connect your Pocket WiFi to a router to enjoy improved coverage and performance. To do this, you’ll need to configure the router to accept your pocket WiFi’s connection. This can be done by connecting the pocket WiFi to the router using an Ethernet cable, or by using a wireless connection.

Once the router is configured, your pocket WiFi will be able to connect to it, and you’ll be able to access the internet from further away. This is great for people who live in areas with weak cellular coverage or who want to use their pocket WiFi in larger areas.

Who Should Use Portable Wireless Routers?

Travel WiFi routers are ideal for anyone who wishes to browse the internet, read and send emails (without attaching files), and engage in light online gaming. I’d recommend avoiding the use of portable WiFi for online gaming, streaming, social networking, and music.

If you plan to use portable WiFi for online gaming, you may experience slow speeds, lag, or other performance issues. Similarly, streaming video or music can quickly eat up your data allowance, leaving you with little to no internet access for the rest of your trip.

For these activities, it may be best to connect to a public WiFi network or use a different type of internet connection.

What 500 MB of data will get you:

  • 97 social media postings with photos
  • 45 hours of online gaming (depending on the games)
  • 44 hours of web browsing (depending on your browsing habits

If you’re planning to use portable WiFi while traveling, it’s important to keep in mind that data usage can add up quickly.

For example, 500MB of data may not be enough to stream even an hour of 480p SD video, and streaming music while working on the go can also eat up a significant amount of data. In these situations, it may be best to connect to a public WiFi network instead.

However, if you do need to use portable WiFi, there are some steps you can take to conserve data. For example, if you’re working on Google Docs, you can make the files accessible offline before connecting to the WiFi.

This can help reduce data usage and ensure that you can continue working even if you lose the connection.

While unlimited data is always ideal, it may not be available as part of your provider plan. In these cases, portable WiFi can be a great option. Just be sure to monitor your data usage and take steps to conserve data whenever possible.

Why Don’t I Just Use My Phone to Create a Mobile Hotspot?

If you’re looking for a way to stay connected while on the go, you may be wondering whether to use your phone’s mobile hotspot or a pocket WiFi device. While both options have their pros and cons, there are some reasons why pocket WiFi may be the better choice:

  • Privacy: When working in a public space, using a pocket WiFi device can give you greater privacy than using your phone’s mobile hotspot. This is because you can avoid using a public DNS resolver and a virtual private network (VPN), which can help protect your data from prying eyes.
  • Cybersecurity: However, it’s important to keep in mind that using a pocket WiFi device does not automatically mean you are safe from cyber threats. To ensure optimal cybersecurity, it’s recommended to use a reputable VPN and DNS resolver, such as Cloudflare and Surfshark VPN. Additionally, it’s important to practice good cybersecurity hygiene, such as avoiding sensitive websites when connected to an unsecured network and using a password manager with two-factor authentication.

Overall, whether to use a mobile hotspot or pocket WiFi depends on your specific needs and preferences. Just be sure to take steps to protect your privacy and cybersecurity, regardless of which option you choose.

Let’s explore the things you need to know before buying a pocket Wi-Fi device to help you make an informed decision.



When it comes to choosing a pocket wifi, there are a number factors to consider. You want to make sure that the device can connect to the network in your area. Before making a purchase, check the service provider’s coverage map to ensure that the device will work in the areas you plan to use it. Additionally, consider the number of devices that can be connected to the pocket wifi simultaneously. Some devices may limit the number of connections, which can be a problem if you connect multiple devices simultaneously.


The speed of the pocket wifi is another important consideration. The device’s speed will impact how quickly you can load web pages, stream videos, or download files. The speed of the device is measured in Mbps (megabits per second). The higher the Mbps, the faster the device will be. However, remember that the speed may vary depending on the location and network coverage.

When considering the speed of the pocket wifi, think about your specific needs. A lower Mbps may be sufficient if you plan to use the device for basic web browsing. However, if you plan to stream HD videos or play online games, you may want to opt for a device with a higher Mbps.

Here is a comparison of some popular pocket wifi devices and their speed:

DeviceSpeed (Mbps)
TP-Link M7350150
Huawei E5577C150
Netgear Nighthawk M11000

Battery Life

When it comes to buying a pocket WiFi, battery life is an important factor to consider. After all, you don’t want your device to run out of juice in the middle of an important work call or while streaming your favorite show. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Look for a device with a long battery life. Many pocket WiFi devices offer 8-12 hours of continuous use, but some can last even longer.
  • Consider the type of battery the device uses. Lithium-ion batteries tend to be the most common and offer good performance, but some devices may use other types of batteries.
  • Check if the device has a removable battery. This can be useful if you need to replace the battery or if you want to carry a spare battery with you.

It’s also worth noting that battery life can be affected by how you use the device. For example, streaming video or using the device as a hotspot for multiple devices can drain the battery more quickly. Here are some tips to help you maximize battery life:

  • Turn off the device when you’re not using it. This can help conserve battery life and prevent the device from overheating.
  • Adjust the device’s settings to optimize battery life. For example, you may be able to turn off features like Bluetooth or reduce the screen brightness to save power.
  • Consider carrying a portable charger or power bank with you. This can be a convenient way to keep your device charged while you’re on the go.

Size and Portability

After all, the whole point of a pocket WiFi device is to have a reliable internet connection on the go, so it needs to be easy to carry around and not take up too much space in your bag or pocket.

There are a few different things to keep in mind when it comes to size and portability:

  • Dimensions: Look for a device that is compact and lightweight. Consider the dimensions and whether it fits easily in your pocket or bag.
  • Battery life: A pocket WiFi device with long battery life is ideal for those who are always on the go. Look for a device with a battery life of at least 8-10 hours.
  • Weight: A lightweight device is easier to carry around, especially if you plan on using it for long periods. Look for a device that weighs less than 100 grams.

When it comes to size and portability, it’s important to find a device that strikes the right balance between being compact and lightweight while still offering a long battery life and reliable internet connection.

Factors to ConsiderIdeal Requirements
DimensionsCompact and lightweight
Battery LifeAt least 8-10 hours
WeightLess than 100 grams

By keeping these factors in mind, you can find a pocket WiFi device that is easy to carry around, offers a long battery life, and provides a reliable internet connection on the go.


When considering buying a pocket WiFi, cost is an important factor to consider. There are two main costs to consider: upfront cost and data plan cost.

Upfront Cost

The upfront cost is the price you pay to purchase the pocket WiFi device. The cost can vary depending on the device’s brand, model, and features. Cheaper devices may have limited features, while more expensive devices may have additional features like longer battery life, better signal strength, and faster internet speeds.

Considering how often you will use the pocket WiFi device is important before deciding on the upfront cost. If you plan to use it frequently, it may be worth investing in a more expensive device with better features.

Data Plan Cost

The data plan cost is the ongoing cost you pay for the data used by the pocket WiFi device. Different carriers and plans offer different data allowances and pricing structures. Some plans may have a set amount of data per month, while others may offer unlimited data.

It’s important to consider how much data you will need before choosing a data plan. If you plan to use the pocket WiFi device for streaming videos and music, you may need a plan with a higher data allowance. On the other hand, if you only plan to use it for basic web browsing and email, a lower data allowance may be sufficient.

Additionally, it’s important to consider the cost of exceeding your data allowance. Some plans may charge extra fees or slow down your internet speed if you exceed your data allowance.

CarrierData AllowancePrice

As you can see from the table above, different carriers offer different data allowances and pricing structures. It’s important to compare different plans to find the one that best fits your needs and budget.

Additional Features

Number of Devices

When considering a pocket Wi-Fi router, it’s important to think about how many devices you plan to connect to it. Some routers can only connect a few devices at once, while others can handle up to 10 or more. If you’re traveling with a large group or have multiple devices that need to be connected, you’ll want to choose a router with a higher device capacity.

Security Features

Security is another important consideration when choosing a pocket Wi-Fi router. Look for routers that offer features like password protection and encryption to keep your data safe from hackers and other security threats.

Here are some security features to look for:

  • WPA2 encryption
  • Firewall protection
  • Password protection
  • MAC address filtering

By choosing a pocket Wi-Fi router with strong security features, you can ensure that your personal information and sensitive data are kept safe while you’re online.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

So, What Is Pocket WiFi and How Does It Work?

Pocket WiFi is a WiFi-capable device that can connect other devices (e.g., smartphones, computers, tablets) to the internet using a pocket WiFi (often referred to as a MiFi), mobile hotspot, or internet dongle. It functions similarly to a home WiFi “hotspot,” creating a WiFi network in a 10- to 15-meter radius all around you, yet it fits in your pocket! No wires, software, or installation.

You only need to turn on the pocket WiFi and enter the password to start connecting your personal gadgets. A rechargeable battery powers it and can be used anywhere within a cellular network’s coverage area. 

You can even take it with you when you travel and use it to quickly and easily get online in other countries! Perfect for travel, camping (glamping), hiking, fishing, etc. Stay connected wherever you go!

Related Articles

Best Compression Boots for Circulation
Does Pocket Wifi Work on a Plane?
Best Portable Pocket WiFi For Europe
How To Use Wireless Headphones On A Plane
Top Travel Retirement Gift Ideas That Inspire Adventure!
Best Cheap Digital Camera Under $50
Can I Use a Prepaid SIM for Pocket WiFi?