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MiFi Device vs Mobile Phone hotspot

2 posts
2 reviews
MiFi Device vs Mobile Phone hotspot

Hi all,

I have a MacBook Pro and a Samsung S8 which I will be using to travel and work remotely around Australia for up to a year with my girlfriend.

My S8 has a second sim card slot which I could use to get a sim card with a good data package, and use as a hotspot for my Mac. Was hoping for a bit of advice regarding whether a MiFi (such as GlocalMe, or Huawei etc) would be better? I'll also have a good battery powerbank with me.

What would the advantage be of having a MiFi over just a normal smartphone hotspot (and access to a powerbank)? Also, is there any benefit in terms of signal reception, or are they the same (i.e. same SIM card but in either device)

If I'm staying in Australia for a year, is GlocalMe worth getting? Or should I just get a local SIM card delivered (and use in either a cheaper MiFi/my S8)



Edited: 17 August 2018, 20:51
6 replies to this topic
2 posts
2 reviews
1. Re: MiFi Device vs Mobile Phone hotspot

Should also add I'm going to Indonesia for 2 months first too

Te Anau, New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island, Te Anau
Level Contributor
4,654 posts
49 reviews
2. Re: MiFi Device vs Mobile Phone hotspot

Can you get a data only sim for a mobile phone? . My understanding is you can't.

Phone plans tend to have quite a small data allowance, and are expensive for what you get.

Data only plans come with 100 -200 gig and more for around $1 per gig or less

I think for long term use you'd find MiFi more convenient.

No idea about Indonesia, but you'd need a local sim there also.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
2,792 posts
145 reviews
3. Re: MiFi Device vs Mobile Phone hotspot

It is really hard to give a simple answer. If you were just traveling for a short stay in Australia and need to keep in touch then a hotspot is fine but then you are talking about staying here for a year. Even a 4G modem from Telstra or Optus is expensive. Most people would have some kind of wifi they can do their high speed/high volume stuff at home or at work. Will you have access to that? It all comes down to usage, mobility, access to high speed data from base(s).

South Pacific
Destination Expert
for Hobart, Tasmania
Level Contributor
31,296 posts
77 reviews
4. Re: MiFi Device vs Mobile Phone hotspot

I travel with a Huawei mobile wifi (mifi) with a data sim from Optus. I use it for two phones and a laptop. If the data runs out I turn my phone into a hotspot for the other devices.

I think I get far better value out of the mifi than using the phone as a hotspot, in part because I can't set the phone in economical "metered connection" mode while it is a hotspot and it uses all the data updating itself incessantly. It can easily use a Gig in three days, it seems.

However, if you are here for a while, look at a contract plan from one of the cheapie supermarket sim companies and consider using that as a hotspot.

Newcastle, Australia
Level Contributor
5,273 posts
207 reviews
5. Re: MiFi Device vs Mobile Phone hotspot

You could buy a WiFi/MiFi device here for about $100 with 30 days of data included from one of the local Telcos, I’d recommend Telstra or Optus. They are available from many stores like Harvey Norman, JB Hi Fi, Domayne and Good Guys. There are also 3rd party resellers such as Boost, Dodo, Kogan, Amaysim, Woolworths and Coles who use smaller versions of the Telcos networks. You could take advantage of their cheaper offerings as you are here so long if you preferred but I find using the Telstra and Optus Networks is not that more expensive You will also find Australian Mobile and data plans allow you to use your phone as a personal mobile hotspot although a wifi/mifi device can be a little more convenient plus they don’t constantly update themselves like a modern smartphone. As for reception there is not a lot of difference between a modern phone and a WiFi/mifi device although you can buy external aerials for a mifi/WiFi device but you’d have to be pretty remote for this to make an appreciable difference.

As an example for you, my data only plan for mu iPad on Telstra is $35 a month for 10gb, my wife’s phone is $40 a month on Telstra for unlimited calls, texts, mms and 5gb of data. These are linked so we have 15gb total across both devices. I also have a personal Mobile with Belong (Telstra’s discount mobile provider) which is $10 for unlimited calls, texts, MMS and 1gb of data per month that can be rolled over each month (they also have a $25 plan with 7gb) and my work devices are about $50 a month for 13 gb data only for my wifi and $60 for my work phone with 10gb and unlimited calls, texts and MMS. All my phones have MessageBank’s as well. Going with some of the cheaper resellers may save $5 to $15 a month. All these devices are on a monthly post paid plan which can be cancelled at any time which is what I’d suggest you get if they will let you. Prepaid would add about $5 to $20 to these prices depending on who you used and what you got. Business plans are always a little more expensive than personal plans but there is no restriction on what type of plan you can use, as long as your activities are legal.

Finally, the resellers are cheaper because they don’t have access to all the frequencies of the telco (Telstra, Optus or Vodaphone) so they can’t access the entire network. My personal Belong Mobile is not able to access the 4G network all the time (maybe about 10 or 20%j so will drop you back to 3G and can rarely access the faster LTE network. I don’t find this much of an issue although it may be if you’re using it for work.

I know that’s a lot but I hope it helps you out. Just come back to us with any questions you may have.

Edited: 18 August 2018, 05:09
Newcastle, Australia
Level Contributor
5,273 posts
207 reviews
6. Re: MiFi Device vs Mobile Phone hotspot

I should also mention that the Belong Mobile plans are only available online with a credit card, they don’t have shopfronts.

All the best

Edited: 18 August 2018, 05:40
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