Unlimited hotspot sounds like a dream come true, and many phone carriers have started to offer it in their plans. But how do unlimited hotspots work, and what does “unlimited” really mean?
Many phone carriers have unlimited hotspot plans, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. The data you use over your hotspot will count against your overall data use, so it should be available by simply toggling the feature on in the iPhone’s settings.
Let’s look at how unlimited hotspot plans work in more detail, what you actually receive when you buy one, and the best unlimited hotspot plans on the market.
Are Hotspots on an iPhone Unlimited?
If you have an unlimited data plan on your iPhone, it can be tempting to think that you may be able to cancel your internet plan and just use your phone as a hotspot.
After all, it has “unlimited data.” However, your unlimited data plan doesn’t actually work like that.
Most unlimited data mobile plans only offer 10 to 20GB per month for hotspots. Once you go over this limit, you will only receive speeds of 600 Kbps for the rest of the month.
This limits you from streaming video, listening to music, and even checking social media. This kind of service is only really good for making phone calls and Google searches.
Why Using a Hotspot as Your Only Source of Internet is a Bad Idea
As we mentioned earlier, most unlimited data plans only offer 10 to 20GB per month for hotspot use, but just how much data is that?
The average household uses around 344GB of internet data per month. For scale, it would only take 20 hours of streaming Netflix to use an entire month of Verizon’s hotspot data plan.
Again, if you go over this limit, your provider will limit your data speed to dial-up levels of slowness. Most importantly, many mobile carriers will flag you for overusing data and terminate your service for doing this.
Can You Get an Unlimited Hotspot on an iPhone?
For the short answer, yes, many mobile carriers do have unlimited hotspot plans. However, these plans do not work in the way you’d probably think they do.
The basis for these plans is to allow themselves to legally claim that they are unlimited, while still imposing limits on the user.
For example, Verizon’s premium unlimited hotspot plan only gets you 150GB of premium mobile hotspot data per month. But if they only give you 150GB of data, how can they call it unlimited? It’s simple: once you’ve used all 150GB, they still give you hotspot data.
However, this extra hotspot data is significantly worse in quality, usually clocking in at a 3G signal. This is only really good enough to check emails.
In short, even though carriers have limits for their premium service, you’re still getting service once you’ve used it all up. This allows them to legally claim that their service is “unlimited”.
Best Unlimited Hotspot Plans of 2022
Still, if you use your hotspot regularly, getting an unlimited hotspot phone plan may be worth your money. Let’s go through a few different plans to help you get a feel for what you should be looking for.
Verizon is a staple in the phone service industry, and they have several different plans for hotspot data. Their cheapest plan is their Essential plan, which is intended for people that don’t use hotspot data that often. This plan is $20 a month for 15GB of their premium hotspot data.
They also have three other plans on top of this. Their Plus plan includes 50GB of premium data for $40 a month, their Pro plan includes 100GB for $60 a month, and their Premium plan gives you 150GB for $80 a month. It is important to note that these prices are added on top of your existing Unlimited plan.
T-Mobile has three different plans for unlimited hotspot data. However, unlike Verizon, T-Mobile includes the price of their phone service with the price of their hotspot data. This makes their prices look much higher than Verizon’s, but they’re actually very similar.
Verizon’s cheapest plan is their Essentials plan, which gives you unlimited 3G hotspot data along with 50GB of 5G data for three phones for $90 a month. Their Magenta plan gives you 5GB of 5G hotspot data along with 100GB of 5G data for three phones for $120 a month.
Finally, their Magenta Max plan gives you 40GB of 5G hotspot data along with unlimited 5G data for three phones for $140 a month.
AT&T also has three different plans for hotspot data, and unlike Verizon and T-Mobile, they do not have fancy names for their plans. Their cheapest plan gets you 20GB of 5G hotspot data for $25 per month, but you have to pay for 12 months in advance, making it a $300 charge.
Their next plan gets you 15GB of 5G data for $35 a month, but you can pay per month. Their third option gets you 50GB of 5G data for $55 per month.