Best 4G Routers for 2020

5th Sept 2020

Here’s a run down of the best 4G / LTE routers for 2020, selected from Huawei, HTC, D-Link and TP-Link.

Last years winner, the Huawei B618, faces some tough competition from new contenders this year. In 2019 it stood out as far and away the best specification. A year on though, there are now models available that come close for less money.

This time around they are shortlisted into three categories depending on whether you need a no-frills basic model, or the state of the art in 2020, or the sweet spot of price and performance in between…

Model4G down/upLTE CatAerialWi-FiLAN
Entry Level
D-Link DWR-921150/504SMAWi-Fi 44x 100
TP-Link TL-MR6400150/504SMAWi-Fi 44x 100
Huawei B311150/504SMAWi-Fi 41x 1000
D-Link DWR-953150/504SMAWi-Fi 54x 1000
Mid Range
Huawei B525300/506SMAWi-Fi 54x 1000
Huawei B535300/1007SMAWi-Fi 54x 1000
TP-Link AC1200300/506SMAWi-Fi 54x 1000
Huawei B8181566/15019TS9Wi-Fi 52x 1000
Premium
Huawei 5G CPE Pro2330/2505GTS9Wi-Fi 62x 1000
HTC 5G Hub2630/2875Gn/aWi-Fi 51x 1000

1) Entry Level

If you’ve landed on this page because you’re just looking for the best way to get online without needing a home phone line, these entry level models are the best place to start.

The higher priced models may offer more in the way of home networking performance and a wider range of configuration options, but many people won’t actually need these features. In the real world the 4G performance will probably be very close between all but the very high end models.

For basic mobile internet access you could also consider a battery powered USB device, or a smartphone providing an internet hotspot. However, these methods have limitations that make them better suited for temporary or backup internet access only.

The models on this page are all mains powered and are far better suited for full time use. They also allow you to fit an external 4G antenna which can be helpful if you only get low signal strength where you live.

They should all be available for under £100.

2) Mid-Range

The routers in the mid range category have higher performance and features than the basic models above. They have higher maximum download speeds (4G signal etc permitting). You also get much faster 802.11ac WiFi and Gigabit wired Ethernet.

They range between £100 – £200.

3) Premium

The three routers in this section represent the current state of the art for 4G and 5G internet routers. At the of writing the prices are high and availability scarce.

They’re included here mainly to show where things may be going in the near future. Prices are disregarded for this selection; it’s only about comparing the best performance available.

Entry Level

D-Link DWR-921/B 4G/3G LTE Unlocked Multi WAN Wireless N300 Mobile Broadband Router with 4-Port Ethernet - UK VersionTP-Link TL-MR6400 300 Mbps 4G Mobile Wi-Fi Router, SIM Slot Unlocked, No Configuration Required, Removable External Wi-Fi Antennas, UK PlugHuawei B311 2020, 4G/ LTE 150 Mbps Mobile Wi-Fi Router, Unlocked to All Networks- Genuine UK Warranty STOCK (Non Network Logo)- WhiteD-Link DWR-953 4G/3G LTE Unlocked Multi WAN Dual Band Wireless AC1200, Mobile Broadband Router with 4-Port Gigabit Ethernet
D-Link DWR-921
TP-Link TL-MR6400
Huawei B311
D-Link DWR-953
4G down/up150/50150/50150/50150/50
Wi-FiWi-Fi 4Wi-Fi 4Wi-Fi 4Wi-Fi 5
LAN4x 1004x 1001x 10004x 1000
AntennaSMASMASMASMA

Prices updated 2020-10-30

D-Link DWR-921

The DWR-921 dates from several years back and this is reflected in the limited wired and wireless transfer speeds. However it is one of the cheapest routers here and if you just want mobile internet access it could still serve you very well.

Sale!

Good value basic router
Older model so limited to 150 Mbps
Four LAN ports but only 100 Mbps speed

TP-Link TL-MR6400

The MR6400 is TP-Link’s entry level 4G router. As with the D-Link DWR-921 it only offers 100Mbps wired networking and WiFi4 wireless. Wi-Fi4 is slower than the newer standards to begin with, and also it’s more likely to suffer with interference from neighbouring wireless networks which can reduce speed even further.

TP-Link are a respected brand though and if you are only need a device to connect to and share an internet connection this model should have everything needed at a budget price point.


Solid no frills router at a good price
Entry level CAT4 4G performance

Huawei B311

Supplied by Three in the UK under the name “HomeFi”, the Huawei 311 is also available to be bought online without having to sign up to a contract.

It’s a fairly basic Cat4 router meaning a maximum download of 150Mbps and 50Mbps upload. It’s available for around the £60 mark though and is the only router at this price that comes with 1,000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet. Only one port though compared to the others that have four.

The 300MBps Wi-Fi networking is normal on these lower end devices.


Excellent value entry level router
Gigabit port offers much better wired network speeds
Wi-Fi4 speed could be a bottle neck

D-Link DWR-953

The D-Link DWR-953 is only a Cat4 device which gives the same 4G upload and download as the other models. For day to day browsing this should be perfectly fine, unless you want to download large amounts on a regular basis and so went with an unlimited 4G contract. Generally most 4G contracts still have much lower monthly data caps than fixed-line services (usually 15GB – 50GB a month).

The DWR-953 stands out in this category with four Gigabit ports and much better 802.11ac Wi-Fi5 wireless. If you want a proper router for a more serious home network but perhaps only use the internet data fairly lightly, then it offers everything the more expensive mid and high end models here, but at a significantly lower price.

Sale!

Excellent wired AND WiFi speeds
Good choice where home networking performance is a priority
Other CAT4 4G routers are available for a lower price

Recommendations – Entry Level

If you want the best technology, the D-Link DWR-953 offers much better networking abilities with it’s Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11ac Wi-Fi5. However, it is also the highest priced router in the entry level category, and is equalled on 4G performance by all the other models.

The runner up is Huawei B311. Available at a lower price it also has Wi-Fi5 but only a single wired port.

Mid Range

Huawei B525 2017 -4G 300Mbps, CAT 6, mobile WiFi Router, NOT UK warranty stock
ROUTEUR HUAWEI B535-232,51060DRJ
TP-Link Archer MR600 AC1200 Mbps 4G+ Cat6 Mobile Wi-Fi Router Dual Band, 4G/3G Network SIM Slot Unlocked, No Configuration required, Support Guest Network & Parental Control, UK Plug
Recommended
HUAWEI B818-263 White Router 4G+ LTE LTE-A Category 19 Gigabit WiFi AC 2 x TS9 for External Antenna
4G
300/50
300/100
300/50
1566/150
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi 5
Wi-Fi 5
Wi-Fi 5
Wi-Fi 5
LAN
4x 1000
4x 1000
4x 1000
2x 1000
Antenna
SMA
SMA
SMA
TS9
Huawei B525 2017 -4G 300Mbps, CAT 6, mobile WiFi Router, NOT UK warranty stock
4G
300/50
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi 5
LAN
4x 1000
Antenna
SMA
ROUTEUR HUAWEI B535-232,51060DRJ
4G
300/100
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi 5
LAN
4x 1000
Antenna
SMA
TP-Link Archer MR600 AC1200 Mbps 4G+ Cat6 Mobile Wi-Fi Router Dual Band, 4G/3G Network SIM Slot Unlocked, No Configuration required, Support Guest Network & Parental Control, UK Plug
4G
300/50
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi 5
LAN
4x 1000
Antenna
SMA
Recommended
HUAWEI B818-263 White Router 4G+ LTE LTE-A Category 19 Gigabit WiFi AC 2 x TS9 for External Antenna
4G
1566/150
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi 5
LAN
2x 1000
Antenna
TS9

Prices updated 2020-10-30

Huawei B525

The B525 offers a good spec with no weak points at a great price. With real world 4G speeds still only in double figures, the solid 300/50 Mbps download/upload is unlikely to be a limitation any time soon.

On the networking front, it’s great to have four proper Gigabit (1,000Mbps) wired network ports, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi5.

Sale!

Great all-rounder 4G router
Wired and WiFi specs should be fine for years to come
Not the fastest when it comes to 4G

Huawei B535

The B535 is provided by the Three network in the UK under the a name “HomeFi Plus“. It’s also available unlocked as a stand-alone purchase from Amazon for use on the network of your choice. It stands out as the only 4G router here that offers 100Mbps upload speeds. Downloads speeds are the usual “up to” 300Mbps.

The B535 offers the newer Wi-Fi5 standard (802.11ac) wireless networking and four Gigabit wired network ports. Up to 64 devices can be connected on Wi-Fi. This level of networking performance should be all that you’ll need for at least the next couple of years.

Currently (in May 2020) pricing and availability of some 4G routers has become quite volatile. The B535 was affected quite badly by this and it’s price on Amazon increased considerably. It is a great 4G router though, so don’t rule it out and we recommend monitoring it’s price in the coming months.


Fastest 4G upload speed in this class
Good wired and WiFi networking specs
Price and availability could be a problem

TP-Link AC1200 4G+ Cat6

Having recently dropped in price, the TP-Link AC1200 offers great value and performance. Spec wise, it’s too close to call between the AC1200 and Huawei’s B525. Both offer 300/50 4G speeds, 802.11ac WiFi and four Gigabit ports. These TP-Link routers are excellent value and they’re frequently discounted to around £100 on Amazon.

Sale!

Probably the best price/performance router here
Great network spec – Gigabit and 802.11ac
Not the absolute fastest at 4G

Huawei B818

The B818 could be seen as the B618 but on steroids. Classed as LTE CAT19, it offers theoretical 4G downloads of up to 1,600 Mbps and uploads of 150 Mbps – both around three or more times higher than the other models here.

On the networking side the two Gigabit ports and 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5 should be sufficient.

In Germany the B818 is supplied by Vodafone where it goes by the same “GigaCube CAT19”. There Vodafone offers up to 500Mbps download on their network and real world tests have shown download speeds around 300Mbps.

In the UK however, the 4G Vodafone GigaCube is still the Huawei B528 which has a maximum down/up of 300/50 Mbps.

The B818’s selling point is it’s top of the range 4G specification. There’s no reason why it couldn’t be used to completely replace a fixed-line broadband service, and unless you live in an area with very poor 4G reception, it may in fact be faster than some FTTC cable connections.

Cat19 4G gives fastest download in its class
Top of the range wired and wireless performance

Recommendations – Mid Range

If your priority is 4G performance then the Huawei B18 stands out as the clear winner. It also offers excellent wired and wireless networking speeds.

Note though that some of the other models offer the same wired and WiFi performance for less. You could save a lot of money and get similar real world performance from the B525 or TP-Link AC1200.

Premium

Huawei 5G CPE Pro
HTC 5G Hub
4G down/up2330/250 (5G)2630/287
Wi-FiWi-Fi 6Wi-Fi 5
LAN2x 10001x 1000
AntennaTS9
PriceAmazon

Prices updated 2020-10-30

Huawei 5G CPE Pro

4G performance

In locations where 5G isn’t yet available, the Huawei 5G CPE Pro should still match the fastest 4G router here with downloads up to 1,600 Mbps and upload of 150 Mbps.

While the upload seems low in comparison it should be noted that previous gen 4G only routers usually only manage 50Mbps, so the 5G-ready device is still quite an improvement.

5G performance

Probably the most headline grabbing aspect of the CPE Pro is the theoretical speed increase over 4G. While in reality this will be very network dependent, the 5G CPE Pro offers the following performance potential:-

  • Download – up to 2,330 Mbps *
  • Upload – up to 250 Mbps

* “Data from HUAWEI laboratories. The actual speed may vary depending on network conditions and internet data plans.”

Currently all three UK 5G networks speeds seem to offer around 150 – 200 Mbps download in the real world. This amounts to around 4.5 times faster than 4G across the UK.

Wi-Fi is the latest 802.11ax known as Wi-Fi6. This offers speeds up to four times that of 802.11ac along with much lower latency. Huawei claim a maximum transmission rate of 5,100Mbps, and up to 64 connected devices.

As with the the B818, Gigabit Ethernet networking is limited to just two ports at the back.

Sale!

Next gen 5G performance and also leads the way on 4G
802.11ax gives the fastest possible WiFi networking
Expensive, but future proof

HTC 5G Hub

Unlike Huawei’s 5G CPE Pro that is fairly traditional looking router, the HTC 5G Hub is more of a multi-function device.

Unique to the 5G Hub is the 5″ 1280×720 touch screen on the front of the unit.

The unit can play back up to 4K UHD video and audio in the following formats:-

  • Video – 3gp, .mp4, .ts, .webm, .mkv
  • Audio – 3gp, .mp4, .m4a, .aac, .ts, .flac, .mp3, .mid, .ogg, .mkv, .wav, .amr

Inside there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 8-core CPU. This runs the Android operating system (version 9). Apps can be downloaded and installed from the Google Play store.

There’s 4GB RAM, and file storage can be expanded up to 512GB with a microSD memory card.

A maximum of 20 devices can access the HTC Hub via WiFi making this an excellent option for providing a very fast mobile hot spot.

Recommendations – Premium

The Huawei 5G CPE Pro is the performance winner here. It’s the fastest 4G router available as well as being 100% ready for whenever 5G goes live in your area. However the Huawei B818 has recently dropped in price and offers similar 4G speed for around half the price. If you don’t need 5G it may be the one to go for.

Further reading:-

Features Guide

4G Download / Upload Speed

All 4G devices are assigned an LTE UE category between 0 and 19, depending on their specification.

The budget models here are generally category 4 which means they all have a maximum download speed of 150Mbps and 50Mbps upload.

As the price increases you’ll find models higher up in the LTE category table. Download speeds here increase to the range of 300Mbps – 600Mbps, but uploads are still usually limited to 50Mbps.

Above this, even higher speeds are available but they don’t come cheap.

Currently 5G devices are not included under the UE-LTE categories. Generally though they should match Cat19 speeds when on 4G and nearly double this where 5G is available.

Of course these “theoretical” internet speeds are higher than you’ll usually reach in real world use. However, as long as you are not affected by a large number of people overloading the same cell tower, then a higher category device should still run faster than the lower category models.

LAN Ports

All the routers here have at least 1 and usually 4 wired network (LAN) ports for connecting via Ethernet network cables. The cheaper models only offer “Fast Ethernet” which limits the connection to around 100Mbps (11MB/sec megabytes a second).

If you only need a router for internet access the above should be sufficient. However if you want to transfer files across multiple devices or perhaps store some files centrally on a NAS, then 100Mbps Ethernet will be a major bottleneck.

In these scenarios either pay the extra for a router with Gigabit ports, or as an alternative a separate Gigabit switch can give full 1,000Mbps transfers between devices while at the same time sharing access to the 4G router as an internet access point.

Wi-Fi Standard

This column shows the Wi-Fi standard (802.11) and capabilities of the router. The best standard here is 802.11ac or 11ax – now renamed to Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6. All standards are backward compatible so older equipment can still connect to an 802.11ac network, but it will only run at the slower speed.

All routers here offer at least 802.11n on the 2.4GHz spectrum. This should give “up to” 144Mbps or 300Mbps depending on the channel width setting, distance from the router and possible interference from overlapping signals nearby. They are shown in the table as Wi-Fi 4.

All of the mid and high end routers have 802.11ac. Going forward this is named Wi-Fi 5. This is the far newer standard and combines both 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels and can give speeds that theoretically surpass even Gigabit Ethernet. For maximum real word performance though I’d still go with wired Gigabit were possible.

In summary:-

If Wi-Fi transfer speeds are important to you, avoid Wi-Fi 4 and go for a model with Wi-Fi 5 or 6.

  • 802.11n is Wi-Fi 4, max 300 Mbps
  • 802.11ac is Wi-Fi 5, max 1200 Mbps
  • 802.11ax is Wi-Fi 6, max 1700+ Mbps

One factor to bear in mind is whether the devices you’ll use to connect to your router support the faster standards. There’s little point (other than future proofing) paying extra for 1900Mbps 802.11ac if your PC / laptop / phone only work at 300Mbps 802.11g for example.

The inSSIDer software can be very helpful in displaying your networks signal strength and detecting other nearby networks which may be causing interference.

External Antenna Connection Type

Depending on your location, using your routers built in antenna may work fine. In lower signal areas though, attaching an external antenna can often make a big difference.

There are generally two types of connector for attaching an external antenna. SMA and TS9. Adapters are also available to convert between the two sizes of connectors.

We’ve gone into a little more detail on choosing an external 4G antenna here.

Prices updated on 2020-10-30. Affiliate links & images from Amazon Product Advertising API

20 thoughts on “Best 4G Routers for 2020”

  1. This is a terrific comprehensive website. Thank you for the info.

    I’m in Singapore and with all the COVID19, I’m working remotely (home, cafe, beach, etc.)

    I wanted to get the fastest mobile (SIM) router available as my current D-Link DWC-932C E1. It’s Cat 4 and the performance is spotty – drops, lags, and the speedtest rates it “slow”. But I can’t tell if its the reception, network, or what.

    Anyway, do you think its worth the money to move up to the Huawei E5885Ls mobile router (Cat 6)?

    Reply
    • Hi James, if this was in the UK my first thought would be congestion (overloading) at the cell mast you’re connecting to, especially if it varies at different times of day. I wrote about my experiences on an overloaded network here – https://grouptestwinner.com/blog-my-experiences-using-smartys-unlimited-4g-network/

      However, if you’re getting the same issue at different locations it may be something else. The mobile routers do sometimes struggle more getting a strong signal than the mains powered routers here. If your D-Link keeps loosing the signal and having to reconnect then I think this may be the problem.

      If you can rule out both the above then moving to Cat 6 device should see a good improvement when downloading at least.

      Reply
  2. Hi,

    I currently have a Huawei B525, I want to switch network to get better speeds (currently limited to 80mb download).

    The network I want to use will require a router that will allow me to lock the band to the 2600mhz band AND lock the APN to IPV4.

    Network speed available is around 300mbs

    Reply
  3. Hi,
    Is there any router wich can be power by POE (over the ethernet cable), so that no direct power supply i needed?
    I couldn’t finde any thing like that but it would be very usful for my particular case.

    Reply
  4. Hi Ed,
    Thanks for this article – it’s useful. Excuse my ignorance though – can I ask some advice? I’ve just moved to a very rural part of the Cotswolds, on the very edge of 4G reception for pretty much every UK provider. My iPhone 11 on EE gives download speeds that vary widely between different speed tests (1 mbps to almost 20), but it picks up as I walk along the road towards the nearest town. I was thinking of getting the huawei b535 with an external antenna, and experiment a bit with different providers, but then I read about the b618 and b715. Will the higher LTE categories of these two actually make any difference do you think, or will it just be a waste of extra money? I’d really appreciate some advice 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi, I found an article here where someone compares a Cat7 router (like the B535) to a B618. https://jmcomms.com/2018/03/21/ee-4gee-home-router-review-update-new-huawei-b618-router-even-faster-speeds/

      Now, this is in an area with pretty strong signal, but the B618 was about 20% faster downloading and nearly 4x better uploading (even though theoretically the Cat 7 should have had faster upload).

      Sadly the B535 has increased in price recently. When I wrote this comparison it was only £125 while the B618 was about £200. Currently though, prices and availability are pretty volatile. As I write this there’s only about £20 difference between them.

      I’d say right now (on Amazon at least) the B535 isn’t great value. I’d look at maybe a B525 instead for better value, or the B618 etc if you want the fastest speeds.

      Reply
    • Letty, regardless of which modem you choose, I would strongly recommend you invest in external antennas that you can mount up high and point towards town. Doing this has made a HUGE difference for my home 4G speeds in the semi rural area I live in, in Australia. 4G speeds obviously fluctuate, but my typical speeds have gone from around 14/1.5 to 60/15Mbps. 198/35Mbps is the fastest I’ve seen so far.

      I’ve used a pair of LPDA antennas, mounted +45°/-45°. You could do similar, or use a MIMO panel antenna (easier) or a pair of parabolic grid antennas (ultimate).

      An interesting thing I’ve noticed is that the antennas don’t just increase signal strength, but allow you to use the higher frequency bands normally only used by people much closer to the tower. This gets you off the over congested low frequency bands that everyone far from the tower is chocking up.

      Reply
  5. Hello, is there a list for routers that I can use in the US? I want to get a router but the US version differs from the UK versions.

    Reply
  6. None of the reviews mention what the WiFi range is for these routers do they? I’m looking to have one in my house for the house but want the signal to reach about 200ft away for my property gate entry system. Are there any specs on WiFi transmission distance?

    Reply
    • Hi, I can’t really help here as my own 4G router is used in a pretty small area. In fact I turn the WiFi transmit power down to 40% as that’s all that is needed. This article does detail some real world and theoretical ranges for 802.11n and 802.11ac – https://www.centurylink.com/home/help/internet/wireless/which-frequency-should-you-use.html

      I’m planning on writing a guide soon on fitting a WiFi access point to boost WiFi range. These of course make things more complicated (and expensive) but a good WiFi AP should be able to transmit a stronger signal than the 4G router on it’s own.

      Reply
  7. Hi. Looking for recommendation. Visiting Cromer in the year, and the caravan site has ok coverage with 4G, but inside the caravan is poor (EE). So looking at router 4g wifi device with ability to put external antenna to pick up the best reception from the roof of the caravan. Want to keep the cost down, so around £100.. i read about the netgear, huawei D-Link… but want the best option.
    Will be streaming tv shows and movies at night and in mornings (for the kids) and normal social media youtube videos mail etc.

    Reply
    • Hi, when I saw your comment I immediately thought D Link DWR-953 as a couple of weeks ago it was only £70. Then I checked today and it’s now over £100 again!

      So if I was buying today I’d get the Huawei B311 especially if it’s only going to be used 1 or 2 weekends a year. Should be fine for streaming as long as the signal is OK.

      The only reason to maybe pay more for the DRW-953 or one of the “mid range” models is to get WiFi5 / 802.11ac wireless networking. If there are lots of neighbouring caravans all with their own wifi network (i.e. when you search you get a long list of available networks), these can all overlap and interfere with each other. WiFi5 wouldn’t be affected by this.

      Reply
  8. Hi Ed, interesting article thanks.
    Similar issue to John on 27/28th July.
    I have Three HomeFi using Huawei mobile wifi router – E5573Bs-322, which is generally pretty good at home in Edinburgh. We just bought static caravan in the Scottish Borders and the router works – just ok- there too, (I use my old IMac to access catch up TV!) but wondered if I can boost the patchy signal. I have a Solwise 3000 wifi repeater/booster which has a Patriot USB antenna- could this be used to enhance the signal? The router does not have any connections at all- not sure how to engage the two… thanks Paul

    Reply
  9. Thank you so much for this very informative and comprehensive article. I am looking at the Huawei 5G CPE Pro but there is also the Huawei 5G CPE Pro 2 coming up in my search just wondering is there a major difference.

    Reply

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