Wiwander international portable hotspot review
Much cheaper than most roaming charges, but can't beat having a local SIM for value.
- Preconfigured to work in multiple countries
- Cheaper than most roaming fees
- Slow 3G speeds in some 4G areas
- More expensive than some local SIMs
If you're going to a single country then a local SIM can be cheaper and faster. However, this provides internet access without local shopping and is cheaper than roaming fees.
The Wiwander is a portable mobile hotspot that comes preconfigured to work across various countries. You connect to it via WiFi and it provides internet access over the local mobile phone network.
We tested it on a trip to Taiwan. We turned it on when we landed at Hong Kong and sure enough, we had 3G internet speeds. In Taiwan, again, it worked on landing and when we were out and about at a conference - with 3G speeds.
However, the 3G speeds can feel a bit slow these days. Furthermore, on landing at Taipei’s airport we popped into the telco shop which is right by the Arrivals gate and bought an 4G SIM with unlimited data that lasted a full week for just $500NT – that’s just over $20 Australian.
Data on the WiWander isn’t unlimited – you’ll get shaped (slowed down) if you break the (rather stingy) Fair Use policy (which is described as approximate in each case): Unlimited for Singapore; 1GB per day for China, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan; 500MB per day for Europe, Hong Kong, USA, Thailand.
Prices can be seen here and vary between $5 per day and $25 per day depending on where you go. You order the device at least five days before travel with delivery costing a not-insignificant $14 to $28 depending on where in Australia you live.
Wiwander does list that 4G speeds are available but it’s not clear where. We were stuck with 3G throughout our travels and subsequently relied upon our separately-purchased 4G SIM card’s data.
The device itself is quite bulky at 145 x 83 x 16mm and it weighs 200g – it’s basically like a very chunky mobile phone without the screen. Much of the weight comes from the battery which is rated to six hours – less if multiple devices are attached.
Ultimately, it’s a far better bet buying a local SIM card when you land (or use services like Vodafone’s $5-a-day roaming) – for most people. However, some travelers, especially those passing through multiple countries, won’t easily be able to do that. Furthermore, if you (or your employees) usually just turn on their Australian phone, on landing, and get stung with massive roaming charges, this will make things feel a whole lot cheaper.
If it consistently used 4G speeds and had better data allowances it would be a better bet for most people, but as it is, it’s a pricey, convenient way to quickly hook up to a foreign network without too much hassle.
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