Mobile data on-the-go: Pocket WiFi or Smartphone?

Mobile data on-the-go: Pocket WiFi or Smartphone?

Recently, on YugaTech’s Facebook page, someone asked us, “Is it still necessary to buy a pocket wi-fi when I could just hotspot using my dual-sim phone?” What’s the difference between a pocket WiFi and a mobile hotspot anyway?

A pocket WiFi is, just as its name says, a portable WiFi device. It’s usually small and light and can fit easily into pockets or bags. Unlike our usual WiFi routers at home, pocket WiFi devices don’t need cables, software, and need no electrical source to be powered. It has its own rechargeable battery and its own data SIM card. Just like our WiFi routers at home, pocket WiFi devices act as an access point, allowing different devices to connect to it. 

On the other hand, a mobile hotspot is a smartphone feature where your mobile acts as a WiFi access point for different devices. It differs from a pocket WiFi in a way that you don’t need a separate portable device to make it work. Instead, it’s an ad hoc wireless access point, meaning you can run it straight from your phone.

Since a mobile hotspot can function almost the same as a pocket WiFi, is it still necessary to get a portable WiFi device? We wrote down a couple of advantages and disadvantages of each one, read on!

Pocket WiFi

Using a portable WiFi has a couple of advantages. For one, since it’s a separate device and has its own battery, you won’t be using up your smartphone’s battery. If you need something reliable without sacrificing the usage of your daily driver, then getting a portable WiFi is ideal.

Another advantage of using a pocket WiFi is that it won’t be a hassle if you want to switch SIMs in a snap. If you’re using a mobile hotspot, you’d have to do a couple more steps such as disconnecting, switching your SIM, and then having to reconnect again afterward.


A pocket WiFi can connect up to more than 5 devices, making it ideal for use during travels. If you have a lot of gadgets on hands, especially if you’re on a business trip, it’s better to use a pocket WiFi. A portable WiFi is also ideal if you want to use it together with a group.

Similar to our home WiFi router, a pocket WiFi has its own username and password, and you won’t be able to connect to it unless you input the necessary details.

Mobile Hotspot

For one thing, a mobile hotspot is cheaper in the sense that you won’t need to purchase a whole other device just to get connected. The mobile data of your existing postpaid plan or your prepaid subscription will be the primary source of your mobile hotspot data. One caveat though is that you need to monitor your data usage or you’ll incur additional charges (in postpaid) or run out of your prepaid load. Still, paying for additional data will be much cheaper than getting a separate device.

Mobile hotspots can only connect up to 5 devices at maximum. It’s not an ideal setup, especially if you have a lot of gadgets that you want to be connected to the internet. Then again, if it’s only for casual usage or personal use, a mobile hotspot would be better for you.

By default, the mobile hotspot setting in smartphones can run without a password. Unless you set one, anyone will be able to connect to your device.

Overall, if it’s for personal use and you don’t mind how it can impact your smartphone’s battery and data, use a mobile hotspot. Otherwise, if you need a dedicated connection and will be using it with more than 5 devices or using the connection as a group, get a portable hotspot.

We hope that this article was able to help you out. Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

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9 Responses

  1. Paulo says:

    How about data speeds? Is one faster than the other?

  2. Qwerty says:

    I was looking if there’s any differences about data speeds, how reliable the connections are. I hope you could add that

  3. Bong says:

    I observe mobile phones connection is much faster than the pocket wifi.
    Smartphones can have cat18 while pocket wifi available is only cat6. I dont know in other places

  4. Ernesto Jr. Rosal says:

    When it comes to data speed?
    I tried swapping my LTE SMART sim to my Huawei Phone which is capable of LTE-A CAT 14 and tested data speed, i got 200+ mbps. But when i testedto my pocket wifi from SMART 2-in-1 zte brand pocketwifi, in the same area, i only got 10mbps. That means a lot.

  5. mema says:

    i think its not an adhoc, dahil meron siyang access point eh, its hotspot not adhoc. btw, isa sa mga advantage ng pocket wifi ay mas malaki ang drivers nito which means mas malakas sumagap ito ng signal, pero depende kung bago ang pocket wifi mo, unlike sa phone, mas maliit ito, which results to very hot phone

  6. Kebbot says:

    I have lte router, 3 pocket wifi and all of them have slower speed… So what i did is use my huawei P10 mobile hitspot and a wireless repeater….

  7. louie says:

    having a powerbank seem to be a good solution for smartphone hotspot but the biggest disadvantage is you get disconnected from internet when receiving or placing a regular voice call.

  8. Zhun says:

    Smart Giga99 has 1GB free video streaming everyday. I don’t think you can use it, if you are using a pocket wifi.

  9. antong balino says:

    yung ibang pocket wifi walang agregation kaya pansin mo pag naka lagay sa pocket wifi mo yung simcard limted say sa 10 mbps pero pag sa celphone aabot ng 50mbps.. kasi yung pocket wifi kulang ng aggregate.. I thought yugatech could have a deeper and more informative rather than battery etc etc which is too elementary

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