Small, portable mobile hotspots can be a lifesaver when travelling. This comparative review will take a look at the use of Cellhire MiFis in four countries.  

Cellhire is considered a G.O.A.T. when it comes to the global telecoms market. With offices in the USA, UK, Japan, France, Germany, and Switzerland, Cellhire has 50+ local solutions and multiple roaming solutions. Cellhire can (practically) cover anywhere in the world as a mobile network partner.  

The company has provided service for major media companies at sporting events such as the Olympics (hello Tokyo 2020!), FIFA World Cups, Cannes Film Festival and many others. Upon getting a device in the mail, you will see why Cellhire’s pocket-sized MiFi hotspots are valued by global travellers in both the leisure and business sectors.

 

What About Security?

With Omo working in the IT sector, he constantly stresses the importance of working on secure networks (local or abroad). IP addresses using coffee shop wifi, public hotspots, and hotel wifi are often targeted by experienced hackers. 

Tech Review: Cellhire Mifi Mobile Hotspot

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Just because you haven’t been attacked yet, does not ensure you won’t at some point during your online life. Portable MiFi hotspots provide secure networks to connect to. The prospect of being hacked on a MiFi hotspot is much lower than on public hotspots.

 

Review Focus Points

We used Cellhire MiFis in four countries, spanning group and solo trips taken over three different months during 2019. 

Prior to each trip, we received the device in the mail with clear operating and activation instructions. 

We will address five key areas: speed, battery life, number of devices connected, and price point.

 

Japan (Tokyo, Kobe, Shinfuji & Setouchi islands)

Device Make: Huawei 

Tokyo at Night

Speed: In larger cities like Tokyo and Kobe I experienced super-fast 4G speeds. However, the connection went back and forth from 4G to 3G when travelling within the Setouchi islands. There were several occasions when the connection completely dropped. This I expected when travelling by ferry or boat between islands. 

I constantly posted videos to social media using Instagram stories. Upon trying live (Instagram) streaming on one of the Setouchi Islands, the connection and speed proved too low. However, there were no speed issues whilst watching streaming video via Netflix in Tokyo.

At one point, I got lost in a remote area of Tokyo and having access to Google Maps was instrumental in helping me find my way back to the train station. 

Battery Life: I was surprised by the lack of charging the device required. I could go for two days (with regular usage) on a single charge. Social media video downloads and uploads definitely utilised the battery more.

Number of devices can connect: 10 – Although I never had more than three devices connected to the MiFi at once.

Price point: 5GB – £40, 10GB – £50

 

Antigua

Device Make: Samsung

Speed: Antigua is classed as a geographical region in Cellhire’s USA bundle. It is part of their roaming product solution that covers over 210 countries/destinations worldwide. However, outside of the USA, Mexico and Canada, data speeds are capped to 2G/ slow 3G speeds. High speed and 4G were not available. 

That said, I often used the MiFi for Google maps with no major speed issues when away from our resort. The lack of a speedy connection showed when performing any social media video tasks. But who wants to have their head looking down at their phone when the beauty of the island beckons your eyes at every turn?

If I had depended on the MiFi as my primary connection, I would have struggled when it came to posting social content in the mornings and at night in my room. The resort’s wifi definitely helped in this area. 

Battery Life: Despite not using the device daily, it still needed to be charged each day and a half.

Number of devices can connect: 10 – Although I never had more than five devices connected to the MiFi at once.

Price point: 3GB – £33, 10GB – £50

 

USA (Chicago & Denver) 

Device Make: Samsung

Tech Review, Cellhire Mifi in Chicago

Speed: No matter the app (Netflix, Instagram, Google Maps, etc) I experienced super-fast 4G speeds. During my week-long stay, it was often my primary wifi device, performing well in all critical areas.

Large video file downloads (1G) often took under three minutes. Uploads of file sizes around 500MB took under two minutes.

When using the device in Denver, Colorado, I had to restart the device on several occasions to get connectivity. However, this was mainly due to being in poor signal areas. 

Battery Life: I used the device quite frequently (8-10hrs/day), so it needed to be charged at the end of each day.

Number of devices can connect: 10 – Although I never had more than two devices connected to the MiFi at once.

Price point: 3GB – £33, 10GB – £50

 

Turkey (Bodrum peninsula & sailing)

Device Make: Huawei

Speed: On mainland Turkey (Bodrum), we were able to access 4G speeds 90% of our stay. However, when we went sailing around the Bodrum peninsula, we (naturally) experienced a lack of connectivity and a drop to 3G speeds.

Our MiFi hotspot came in handy when our yacht’s wifi hotspots were oversubscribed with connected devices. 

When closer to shore, we had no problem with upload or download speeds. With no time to test streaming video service speeds, we were still pleased with the speeds we required for social media posts.

Battery Life: The device could go two days (with conservative usage) on a single charge. 

Number of devices can connect: 10 – Although we never had more than four or five devices connected to our MFi at once.

Price point: 5GB – £39, 10GB – £49

Tip: It might be more beneficial to get a local sim card in Turkey. Our Cellhire MiFi gave us 20G for a ten-day trip. We became very conservative with our data allowance after blowing through 6GB by day three. However, by day ten, we were on our final few gigabytes. The price point was more than we would prefer to spend to add additional data.

 

What are the cons?

When a customer uses their fully allotted data package before the end of a trip, the device could throttle to slow speeds, stop completely, or it would keep working and the customer would be charged per GB used.

Not knowing which of these actions might affect your coverage introduces a bit of uncertainty. 

However, when questioned about this issue, Cellhire said: “The customer would always be made aware as to what would happen if they used their allowance so it would never be guessing game for them. Cellhire will always tell [customers] what will happen to their specific bundle if all their data is used.”

All Cellhire bundles are quoted monthly. This is worth noting if you’re travelling under thirty days. Charges are based on the size of data needed. If customers purchase a 10GB SIM then they have a month to use it. 

If they use up their allowance within a week or two then it won’t refresh until the start of the next calendar month (then they will be charged for two months because they’ve refreshed their 10GB – if it hasn’t been cut off).

Cellhire says that the month period is to allow the most flexibility for the amount of time they can use it. There is no weekly pricing.

This could be a deal-breaker for travellers going on trips below ten days. We suggest doing side by side comparisons of other similar services and see where you’ll get the best value from. 

Our longest trip was for fifteen days in the US. At a rate of £50 for 10GB, this breaks down to £3.57 per day–cheaper than our EE (UK network provider) surcharge, which starts at £4.80 per day for 500MB data.

 

Final Thoughts?

Outside of travelling between islands within the Setouchi region of Japan, Cellhire’s MiFi devices performed best in the USA and mainland Japan. 

In terms of size and portability, both the Samsung and Huawei devices were slim and easy to carry. However, the Huawei was narrower in build, which we greatly preferred.

The bundle price points are reasonable compared to paying for roaming data with your mobile network provider.

Long haul, extended trips over twelve days gives users the most value for their money when using a Cellhire MiFi device.

Cellhire is a strong competitor in the B2B marketplace. There are ongoing plans to rollout 5G speeds during 2020.

 

Disclaimer: We were provided with complimentary Cellhire 4G MiFis for the purposes of this review however, all opinions are our own.

Buy Now: USA & Europe bundle

Buy Now: International & rest of world

Cellhire is ideal for business travellers. However, consumers who want to use one of the Cellhire MiFi + data SIM card bundles can contact Cellhire on +441904 610610 to discuss their requirements. You can also email york@cellhire.com for enquiries.

Prefer not to carry a MiFi on your travels? You can visit Cellhire’s sister brand, Dataroam, for data SIM cards. See what destinations are covered here.

 

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Co-Founders & Curators at HDYTI

Eulanda & Omo Osagiede are London-based freelance writers and award-winning social influencers who run the popular travel, food, and lifestyle blog HDYTI (Hey! Dip your toes in).