Do You Need a Laptop With 4G or 5G? 5 Things to Consider

Key Takeaways

  • A laptop with a SIM card tray and 5G or 4G connectivity is beneficial for those who work on the go and need a reliable internet connection.
  • If the fixed broadband at your home or workplace is unreliable, a laptop with LTE or 5G support can provide a more stable and consistent connection.
  • A 4G or 5G-enabled laptop is helpful during power outages, as it allows you to stay connected without draining your phone’s battery.
  • Having a dedicated mobile connection on your laptop can enhance online privacy and protect your data from potential hackers on public hotspots.
  • 5. A laptop with mobile network support ensures a fast and dependable connection, especially if 5G networks are available in your area.

Laptops that support mobile internet have become less uncommon in the past few years. Here’s what to consider if you’re wondering whether 4G or 5G connections are a must-have or something superfluous for your next laptop.

Before we proceed, two quick reminders:

First, while both are related to wireless data transfer, there are lots of differences between 5G mobile networks and 5 GHz Wi-Fi connections. Most modern laptops support the latter, but the former is much less common.

Second, LTE, an abbreviation for “Long-Term Evolution”, is a synonym for 4G networks. Therefore, both terms will be used interchangeably in this article.

1. Do You Work on the Go?

If your job requires constant trips (within town or to other cities), you know that Wi-Fi networks aren’t always readily available. Borrowing internet from your phone may not be the best option as well: using it as a mobile hotspot consumes a lot of battery, while USB tethering keeps the device “grounded.”

In such cases, a laptop with a SIM card tray getting you access to 5G or 4G may be a good option. This way, you don’t need to count on luck to ensure your computer will be connected.

2. Is the Fixed Broadband at Your Home and Workplace Reliable?

Even if your job is in a fixed place, broadband connections there (or at home) may not be as reliable as you need. If no ISP offers a decent service where you live/work, perhaps a mobile carrier does.

In such cases, you may also consider a dedicated mobile hotspot, also known as a MiFi device. But, if you only need the connection for your computer, why not get a laptop with LTE or 5G network support built-in?

Person pressing the button on the Solis Lite Mobile Wifi Hotspot.
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

3. Do You Need Protection From Power Outages?

If you need to stay connected even during a power outage, a 4G or 5G-enabled laptop definitely helps. They provide a good failsafe to keep sharing cat videos working in such cases—without draining your phone’s battery, which is even more precious when you can’t charge it.

Keep in mind, however, that some more serious applications may require a constant connection. If you’re, say, hosting a critical web server, you should probably invest in one of the best uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units instead.

4. Is Online Privacy Something You Worry About?

Public hotspots, while convenient, may be unencrypted and vulnerable to sniffing. You have no way of knowing if there’s a hacker intercepting the traffic going through, say, the router in the coffee shop you’re working from.

A dedicated mobile connection built-in your computer won’t make you 100% safe—because nothing done online is ever 100% safe. But at least, if your data leaks, you’ll know your carrier is to blame.

5. Do You Need a (Somewhat) Assuredly Fast Connection?

If you’re on the go a lot, you not only depend on Wi-Fi hotspots being available, but also on them being usable. A laptop with mobile network support ensures you’ll always have a fast connection—that is, as fast as your carrier provides.

If 5G networks are available where you live, there’s a chance their quality is indistinguishable from fixed broadband. Speed and latency with a fifth-gen connection are usually so good that the major US carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon) offer 5G plans for home usage—but remember to monitor bandwidth usage to avoid data caps.

Laptops With LTE or 5G Are Useful, but Not Always Needed

There are quite a few scenarios in which having a laptop that supports mobile networks is indeed useful. But they’re not strictly needed by everyone, and that’s fine.

If you’re on a tight budget, it may be better to get a lower-cost laptop. You’ll save some cash by using your phone’s mobile hotspot.

If money isn’t an issue, but you don’t fall on the use cases for a computer 4G or 5G connection, consider investing in other features. Perhaps you’ll be more satisfied with a convertible, 2-in-1 laptop, or maybe you can just grab a regular one and buy some great PC accessories.


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