Remember those pocket Wi-Fi hotspot devices we usually get when heading overseas for a holiday? While the return of regular travel might still be some time away, renowned network device manufacturer Linksys is not resting on its laurels when it comes to taking mobile hotspots to the next level. Enter the brand-new Linksys 5G Mobile Hotspot.
Courtesy of the folks at Linksys and Singtel, I got to put the mobile hotspot through its paces. If you have a need for speed, you’ll be glad to know that the Linksys 5G Mobile hotspot does not disappoint. This small and lightweight device ensures that you have an almost "home Wi-Fi like" experience wherever you go, especially with Singtel’s 5G island-wide rollout gaining pace and becoming more stable. This powerful device converts that superfast 5G signal to a Wi-Fi signal that can be shared among your smartphone, laptops and other mobile devices.
On paper, the Linksys 5G Mobile Hotspot is indeed powerful. Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System and Qualcomm FastConnect 6800 mobile connectivity system, the device offers Wi-Fi 6 speeds of up to 1.8Gbps (600Mbps for 2.4 GHz and 1,200Mbps for 5 GHz), supports n1, n3, n28, n41 and n78 spectrums and can also handle connectivity for up to 15 devices. More detailed specifications can be found on Linksys’ website.
About the size of a regular smartphone, the slim and lightweight gadget houses a 4,000mAh battery and supports QC 3.0 fast charging through its USB-C charging input. Having such a high-capacity battery and fast charge support essentially means you can head out for a day of usage without any worries.
Now specifications aside, we must remember that a mobile hotspot device like this is essentially designed to be a fuss-free type of product. The majority of potential users like myself would just want to switch it on, connect our device and be ready to go. What would interest us the most would be how fast its mobile network speeds are, which is what I set out to test during the week I had it with me.
Linksys and Singtel shared a list of recommended places to test out its optimal speeds, one of which was Ngee Ann City. For the field test, I decided to start out there before pushing the limits a little further and trying it out in places not on the recommended list just to see how different the network speeds were. For the speed test, I ran the Speedtest by Ookla app on both my iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 11 Pro Max connected via Wi-Fi 6 to the Linksys Mobile Hotspot. While both iPhones are Wi-Fi 6 compatible, only the iPhone 12 Pro Max is 5G-ready. Hence, I wanted to see how much of a difference the Linksys Mobile Hotspot would bring to my 4G-only iPhone 11 Pro Max. With the context set, let’s see the results for our test at Ngee Ann City.
With only the iPhone 12 Pro Max connected, the Linksys 5G Mobile Hotspot gave me an average download speed of between 710-760Mbps, which is pretty much top-speed in the real world and akin to Wi-Fi speeds at home with a Wi-Fi 6 router. I managed to easily download a movie on Netflix in high quality as well as a large 4K video on Dropbox within minutes! Impressive!
With that done and dusted, I wanted to see how much of a boost the device would give to my 4G-only iPhone 11 Pro Max.
With regular 4G on my iPhone 11 Pro Max, I was only averaging download speeds of between 30–70Mbps outside Ngee Ann City. Upon connecting to the Linksys Mobile Hotspot, I was averaging download speeds of between 600–700Mbps, as seen from the photos above. Downloading movies within minutes or watching live streams in full resolution was no longer an issue now with the iPhone 11 Pro Max!
With the Speedtest scores faring amazingly well on a single device connection, I decided to take it up a notch and try connecting both iPhones at the same time and running the Speedtest app simultaneously.
While the download speeds for both did dip a little, averaging between 250–600 Mbps on both phones, such speeds are still remarkable. Like I mentioned above, it was pretty much a similar experience to connecting your smartphones to her home Wi-Fi network in terms of stability and speed.
One observation was that the phone that connected first to the mobile hotspot tend to have better download scores of the two. As seen from the image on the left above, the iPhone 12 Pro Max was averaging between download speeds of 400–600Mbps when connected first as compared to 250–400Mbps on the iPhone 11 Pro Max. When we tested it again by connecting the iPhone 11 Pro Max first followed by the iPhone 12 Pro Max, the average download speeds were flipped, with the former having better speeds than the latter.
With that said, how do the numbers tally up and how was the overall user experience? As we can see, the faster speeds on 5G are indeed real and impressive, especially in a location where the 5G network coverage is optimised. Downloading movies, games and files take mere seconds or minutes, often completed before you even know it.
Now, how about locations in which the 5G networks might not be fully optimised or set up fully yet? How does the Linksys 5G Mobile Hotspot perform then?
We tried out single device connectivity on the iPhone 12 Pro Max at the above two locations, firstly at Bugis Street and secondly at Singapore Management University (SMU).
The Speedtest scores definitely dipped a little but they were still respectable. We were averaging download speeds of between 200-350Mbps, which is still way better than regular 4G download speeds. Watching videos on YouTube and Netflix in their highest resolution as well as gaming on multiplayer games such as PES 2021 was a breeze.
Now, is the Linksys 5G Mobile Hotspot worth getting at this point in time? Well, if you crave the fastest mobile network speed and you're always on the go with multiple devices that require constant Internet connectivity, the Linksys 5G Mobile Hotspot is a no brainer. This sleek and easy-to-use device serves its purpose – providing the speed and convenience of 5G in the form of mobile Wi-Fi without you needing to upgrade your non-5G devices. However, as with every new pioneering product, the early-adopter tax will be there if you wish to own one right now.
That aside, the price could be worth it given that it is future-proof with the latest IPv6 internet protocol and would be an invaluable companion once we can all travel again. The Linksys 5G Mobile Hotspot is available now for S$799 on Lazada and Shopee. More information on Singtel's bundle deals for the Linksys 5G Mobile Hotspot can be found here as well.
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Note: All images taken for review were with the Sony Alpha 7C.
Written by Claudio Chock (@claudio.chock) and Jacqueline (@jiahwee)