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Thread: Recommend a cheap phone for mobile hotspot use?

  1. #1
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    Question Recommend a cheap phone for mobile hotspot use?

    Hello - I just moved over to T Mobile from Verizon. I could not pass up the 50% off military discount even with Big Red upping their discounts lately. So far so good for the most part. There are a couple of areas of weaker signal where I live but it is enough to be fully functional.

    What I need is a cheap device that can be used as a mobile hotspot on an extra line. My in-laws travel all winter in the south and used to have an AT&T hotspot device but it is cheaper to just add them on to my plan vs. pay for the hotspot. Once they are done the phone will be used as an emergency backup phone in the car or given to one of my younger kids as an emergency phone.

    I was going to get the Nokia 2 but it doesnt support several bands from what I can tell in specs. This will mainly be used in Florida and South Carolina.

    If the Nokia wont work the second options were one of the new entry level Moto's. I've been with Verizon for well over a decade (or one of its MVNO's) so am way out of date on what unlocked phones work best on T-Mo. Any others like Blu, Alcatel, etc?

    Budget is $150 or under if possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slideways View Post
    Hello - I just moved over to T Mobile from Verizon. I could not pass up the 50% off military discount even with Big Red upping their discounts lately. So far so good for the most part. There are a couple of areas of weaker signal where I live but it is enough to be fully functional.

    What I need is a cheap device that can be used as a mobile hotspot on an extra line. My in-laws travel all winter in the south and used to have an AT&T hotspot device but it is cheaper to just add them on to my plan vs. pay for the hotspot. Once they are done the phone will be used as an emergency backup phone in the car or given to one of my younger kids as an emergency phone.

    I was going to get the Nokia 2 but it doesnt support several bands from what I can tell in specs. This will mainly be used in Florida and South Carolina.

    If the Nokia wont work the second options were one of the new entry level Moto's. I've been with Verizon for well over a decade (or one of its MVNO's) so am way out of date on what unlocked phones work best on T-Mo. Any others like Blu, Alcatel, etc?

    Budget is $150 or under if possible.
    If your phone plan allows hotspot any T-Mo phone will work. If there are too many hotspot restrictions on the phone plan you can skip around them by using a phone that is not carrier branded like a Blu.

    Unlocked just means that the phone is not locked to a particular carrier SIM for service. Unlocked does not mean that a carrier hotspot app on the phone will work unless it is allowed by the carrier plan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobdevnul View Post
    If your phone plan allows hotspot any T-Mo phone will work. If there are too many hotspot restrictions on the phone plan you can skip around them by using a phone that is not carrier branded like a Blu.

    Unlocked just means that the phone is not locked to a particular carrier SIM for service. Unlocked does not mean that a carrier hotspot app on the phone will work unless it is allowed by the carrier plan.
    My plan allows unlimited 3G hotspot use I believe. That is enough for them to use it for what they require. I have the One Plus Business plan. It may even allow up to 10GB of 4G, I need to look closer. I've only had it for a couple weeks.

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    https://prepaid.t-mobile.com/prepaid/browse-devices

    If you can afford just a little more I'd get a device that is Band 71 capable for the best coverage. Some of those include:

    Samsung J3 Star which $209.99 (device only)
    LG K30 which is $254.99 (device only)

    Note: If you add a line to your account you can finance or lease these devices for around $10 per month. If you do lease make sure to get a screen protector for them as they won't let you return them with deep scratches or scuffs.

    Hopefully the areas these guys are going have good coverage. The free 3G hotspot is only good for light web browsing. If they need to download any large files, upload configs, video conference or stream media then you definitely want to upgrade to LTE hotspot.

    BTW: Welcome to the Magenta side. Nice to meet you.
    “The Internet wasn’t meant to be metered in bits and bytes, so it’s insane that wireless companies are still making you buy it this way. The rate plan is dead — it’s a fossil from a time when wireless was metered by every call or text.” John Legere 1/5/2017

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    I have great experience with Motorola phones. They have great battery life and overall a well rounded phone. There are unlocked Moto E4 / E4 Plus / G5 that can be bought for $150 or less.

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    Also, it doesn't take much of a phone to hotspot. Hotspotting is less intense than streaming a YouTube video. I'm hotspotting on an old LG Viper. It works fine. That slow old phone takes seven full minutes to power up to the point of being usable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by below20 View Post
    I have great experience with Motorola phones. They have great battery life and overall a well rounded phone. There are unlocked Moto E4 / E4 Plus / G5 that can be bought for $150 or less.
    I forgot about that one yes!

    If Band 12 covers the area well I'd totally recommend the E4. I have one myself!

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    I occasionally use my old Amazon Fire Phone as a hotspot. I don't think it has band 12, but it is quite sturdy and I've had it running in my car for at least 10 days straight at times. I think they can be had cheaply on Craigslist or maybe Swappa. I got mine a few years back with a year of Amazon Prime included for $190 total. They are a surpisingly decent phone that reminds me of the iPhone SE.

    A quick check on Ebay looks like they run $50-$100 unlocked.

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    The u.s. model of the Nokia 2 (which is the one being sold at Best buy right now for $80) will work fine on TMobile. It supports bands 2,4 and 12. The specs listed on gsm arena are for the international variant. The u s. Variant supports different bands and is compatible with TMobile and at&t.

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    Thanks for the replies! I have had good luck with Moto in the past so may just grab one of the cheaper unlocked ones.

    Quick question - how can you tell what bands cover what areas? I am curious at home let alone other areas!

    EDIT - Using Cellmapper it looks like the main area they stick around is mainly 2, 4, 12 with some 66 so the Nokia should work fine if I go that route.

    They are around Orlando for a big chunk of the trip and then travel around FL.

    Around me the only band I see is 4 for the most part.

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