Mobile Data Versus Pocket Wi-Fi. Which One Should I Use?


Wednesday March 7 2018

Today our world is more mobile. This means more of us are on the move than ever before. In a way this is cool‚ no more sitting at a stiff computer desk when you can be writing an article on the couch‚ in a cafe‚ or beyond.

But it does mean connectivity becomes a new challenge. And as the world becomes more mobile, deciding which option for staying online while on the move be a difficult decision. In absence of a public Wi-Fi connection, it comes down to mobile data versus pocket Wi-Fi.

So which one is the best option for you? Let’s look now.

Why Mobile Data?

It’s not news smartphones are popular. Smartphones are good because they are essentially universal. Everyone carries one, and everyone always has it on them. In fact, stats from January 2018 hold 51.92% of web traffic now comes via smartphone -and that stat is only set to grow.

For those seeking to a quick and simple online hookup, using your smartphone as a hotspot can be great. In fact it’s the default choice for many needing a portable Wi-Fi solution.

But smartphones can be bad. There is the low battery issues. There is the clash with other apps. There can even be a dreaded auto-update that shuts down your phone for an hour unexpectedly, meaning suddenly your somewhere left s…surely out of luck to meet the deadline.

Smartphones may be preferable but they are not invulnerable as your day by day mobile Wi-Fi.

Why Pocket Wi-Fi?

To many people, a pocket Wi-Fi is the digital equivalent of a can opener. Sure it’s useful, but I don’t always need to carry one with me, right?  And it is also just another thing to carry.

Your phone. Your keys. Your money and credit card. There is only so many things you can comfortably carry on your person at one time – and even if you are using a bag or a purse to lug all your need around – so even if you do have a bag or purse to carry your goods, the case for carrying another device when you already have your phone is a hard sell. So, why would you?

You carry a pocket Wi-Fi because you seek a particular feature or features that a phone won’t offer. A pocket Wi-Fi doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a smartphone, but that can be an advantage for its many fans. It frees up use of your phone while online if you need to use multiple devices at once. And for those who feel they are simply addicted to their smartphone and prefer to work without having the temptation to check their txts? A pocket Wi-Fi can sort that.

A pocket Wi-Fi is also good because it can offer a long battery life than a smartphone. It can (though not always, so check with your provider) offer a better deal on data usage than your existing smartphone plan. Pocket Wi-Fi’s are also easy to pass around the office in an emergency, whereas nobody is going to be passing around their smartphone with all their private data (and a super big Candy Crush high score).

Finally, a pocket Wi-Fi can also be an extra peace of mind. Whether you are away from your ‘main’ internet connection once a week – or you are a remote worker travelling away from home for many years! – a pocket Wi-Fi can give you a second network connection in case your main smartphone provider fails to deliver a signal.

And if your smartphone totally fails altogether? Your pocket Wi-Fi can serve as a backup to quickly email and update social media letting others know your phone is out.

And yes, it is also a great way to rapidly send a crisp email to your smartphone manufacturer ‘Hey All, my phone is stuffed! Currently using a pocket Wi-Fi that isn’t stuffed? What are we gonna do to fix this?’

Do Any Other Options Exist?

While the debate between mobile data versus pocket Wi-Fi may be the most prominent one in this are‚ other options do exist.  Many tablets like the iPad come with the option of a sim card and independent data connection. In a pinch it can serve as a Wi-Fi hotspot when needed.

There are also many professionals who unable to find a dual sim phone model they like‚ regularly operate two phones‚ with a separate network and data plan on each.

It’s a reality too the differences in data charges can vary widely around the world, and that can influence whether a smartphone or pocket Wi-Fi is the best way to get online. Finally there is the question of publicly available Wi-Fi connections.

Public Wi-Fi is not usually a wise thing to rely on, but if you happen to be so lucky as to live in a smart city with a universal internet connection? Then the public offering could be the backup you may otherwise need mobile data or your pocket Wi-Fi for.

What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

For all the talk of remote work most of us still work at a regular desk. For now. This means seeing organisation-wide change here is not as urgent as much as sorting yourself out personally. Ultimately, while bad things do happen to good people, it does take a real spot of bad luck to:

  1. A) Have no smartphone Wi-Fi
  2. B) Have no pocket Wi-Fi
  3. C) Be far away from an alternative connection you can use

Nonetheless, having a Wi-Fi is essential. Especially as the need can arise unexpectedly. Even an internet connection in-office can experience tech issues. The good folks at IT may be along quickly to fix it, but in event they aren’t or can’t, it can cause huge problems.

Having a backup Wi-Fi in your draw can be a lifesaver.  Especially if you’ve colleagues nearby and data to share. Such resourcefulness and helpfulness is a fast track to winning free vending machine privileges of life.

Let’s Make a Connection

There is just one golden rule when it comes to having internet access when you need it: whatever you do don’t get caught out. Nobody is saying you need to be anchored to a online device 24/7 – in fact there’s much to be said for disconnecting and refreshing now and then – but being stuck offline when you need to be online is a huge issue.

For this reason, many professionals come to value the best of both worlds when traveling.  One device to use regularly, and one to serve as backup. This can be especially good if its on a separate network as it can offer more choice in prices, speed, and connectivity when mobile.

Happy surfing out there!



Ed Kennedy is a journalist, ghostwriter, and web developer from Melbourne, Australia. Contact Ed via on LinkedIn or Twitter@EdKennedy01