In this article, we’ll explore mobile hotspots for gaming. Handheld gaming devices aren’t as popular as they used to be.
One of the reasons may be that Smartphones have become powerful enough to run games that utilize high-definition graphics.
Furthermore, Nintendo hybridized portable and stationary gaming with The Nintendo Switch, making a standalone handheld device unnecessary.
Despite this, the future of mobile gaming is promising. However, most modern games (especially free-to-play ones) require a fast internet connection.
If you’re a gamer on the go, can a mobile hotspot help? This is what we hope to answer in this guide.
Table of Contents
- What is a Mobile Hotspot?
- How Do Hotspots Work?
- Mobile Hotspot Types
What is a Mobile Hotspot?
Wi-Fi has become quite ubiquitous in developing countries. However, it’s still common to find yourself in a location without any free internet connectivity.
This can be a huge problem if you need to connect your device(s) so you can work. Not to mention that some people are gamers by profession (i.e., streamers, testers, etc.).
Thus, there has always been a precedence for a mobile option to connect to the internet. Mobile hotspots were seen as a sophisticated solution for making internet connectivity more portable.
They succeeded in dongles and wired modems. Where these devices could only connect a single device to the internet, multiple devices could be connected to mobile hotspots through Wi-Fi or BlueTooth tethering.
Essentially, a hotspot acts as a wireless access point that allows you to connect your wireless devices to the internet. But what other Mobile Hotspot types exist?
[Phones Connecting to a Hotspot]
How Do Hotspots Work?
Fundamentally, any device that can connect to the internet and has modern Wi-Fi capabilities can function as a hotspot.
For example, devices such as current laptops, smartphones, and tablets can share their internet connections with other devices.
These devices convert one type of connection into another. For instance, you may have connected your laptop to an ethernet or satellite connection.
Switching on its Mobile hotspot option allows it to route other devices so they can use its internet connection too.
Hence, why hotspot devices are often called routers, often, people misunderstand what Wi-Fi is or what it does.
Wi-Fi doesn’t form a point-to-point connection to the internet.
Instead, it connects you to a modem, gateway or another device that connects to the internet via mobile broadband, fiber or satellite.
Most wireless hotspot routers connect you to the internet using cellular data.
How fast your connection is will depend on the speed and strength of your Wi-Fi connection and your internet connection.
The latter matters the most between these two factors.
Thus, if the method you use to connect to the internet cannot deliver speeds that accommodate gaming, there’s no point in using it as a hotspot for your gaming device.
Fiber is still the best connection for gaming. It has low latency, high speeds and is reliable.
Unfortunately, you won’t always have access to ethernet or wired connections that you can route as Wi-Fi. So what other options are available to you?
[Phone, Laptop and Wi-Fi Connections]
Mobile Hotspot Types
Currently, the most common types of Wireless mobile hotspot devices for gaming are:
SIM Card Enabled Smartphone or Tablet:
As we previously mentioned, you can use smartphones and tablets as hotspots. Modern mid-to-high-end phones can facilitate connections not just through Wi-Fi but USB and Bluetooth.
Unfortunately, they may not be as fast as dedicated hotspot devices.
Furthermore, since these devices have power-draining high-resolution screens and components, it doesn’t take long for them to run out of battery power.
They’re also unideal for people who use their devices for other functions such as messaging, calls, etc.
Nevertheless, tablet and smartphone hotspots use cellular data. The speed will depend on your network provider.
However, most modern phones can connect to 3G, LTE/4G or 5G networks.
3G can reach typical download speeds of 8 Mbps, while 4G+ (LTE Advanced) hits average speeds of 90 Mbps.
5G networks still aren’t widespread. However, if you’re near a 5G tower or node enough, you can reach peak speeds of 200 Mbps or more.
While these speeds are ample for gaming, device bottlenecks and network traffic can affect them.
Thus, making this option far too unreliable for gaming. You should reserve smartphone and tablet mobile hotspots as a last resort.
They’re a decent backup plan, but as you’ll see, there are far more efficient alternatives.
Portable cellular hotspot devices:
These refer to mobile Wi-Fi gateway devices that can connect you to broadband mobile networks. Some people also refer to them as mobile routers or travel hotspots.
Many of these devices are backwards compatible. For instance, mobile LTE routers can connect to 3G and Edge networks. Some 5G mobile hotspots can connect to 4G networks (but not 3G networks).
You must make sure you understand the capabilities of a mobile hotspot device before you purchase it.
These devices are preferable over smartphone/tablet hotspots because they last longer on battery power, and you can safely connect multiple devices.
They’re also a lot smaller and can facilitate faster internet speeds because they’re not as susceptible to device bottlenecks.
Currently, these may offer the best mobile hotspots for gaming.
[Mobile Hotspot Device]
Mobile Satellite Wi-Fi Hotspots:
Historically, these weren’t a good option. People tend to avoid satellite internet because it produces internet connections with low transfer rates and high latency.
However, SpaceX has changed the reputation of satellite internet through Starlink.
Every day users can experience download speeds as high as 220 Mbps. Starlink was not the first company to introduce mobile satellite Wi-Fi hotspots.
Although it has innovated, people access Satellite internet on the go. Most mobile Satellite Wi-Fi hotspot equipment is cumbersome. It’s large and hard to transport without the aid of a vehicle.
This is still the case for Starlink’s mobile options. However, they sport a sleeker design. Starlink offers two portable plans:
- Starlink Roam: For large recreational vehicles and mobile homes.
- Starlink Mobility: A package introduced in 2023 that SpaceX intends for large road vehicles and SUVs.
Starlink Mobility’s equipment is currently the most portable of its plans. Customers can use it to access streaming services and internet radio.
It also offers highly advanced GPS features through Starlink Navigation.
You can share this connection with your other devices. While satellite internet is not as mobile or portable as the other options listed above, it has great potential.
Unfortunately, it is only useful to people with (large) vehicles. This may render the service inadequate for mobile gaming unless you plan to play near or around your car.
[Portable Satellite Antenna]
Is a mobile hotspot good for gaming?
A mobile hotspot (particularly a cellular-driven one) can be good enough for gaming, depending on your region.
If you live in an area with good 4G and 5G coverage, it can be the perfect option for online gaming.
Thus, when selecting a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot device, you must choose a carrier with the best coverage and data plans.
Is a 4G hotspot good for gaming?
A 4G hotspot is good for gaming. Especially 4G hotspots that can accommodate 4G+ networks. We’ve seen Advanced LTE Pro networks reach download speeds over 1 Gbps.
Nevertheless, in addition to the transfer rate your 4G hotspot can handle, your download and upload speeds will also be affected by what network operator you use.
Is it possible to use 5GB of data in a day?
Yes, it is possible to use 5G of data in a single day, especially if you’re gaming. Often games require updates and other downloadables.
You can also finish this amount of data by streaming videos and music.
The above guide explores mobile hotspots for gaming. It discusses what hotspots are and the various options you have at your disposal.
As SpaceX continuously makes new developments to Starlink, its portable mobile hotspot capabilities can only grow.
Considering that Sony has plans to release a new handheld gaming console in 2024, mobile gaming is still alive. It will be for the foreseeable future.
Thus, it’s only right to invest in a mobile hotspot option that can accommodate modern gaming requirements.