Best 4G and 5G Routers (Grouptest)

3 Feb 2024

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Aside from a few months in 2020, I’ve been using mobile broadband for my home internet connection since 2015.

Mobile broadband routers provide a shared internet connection on your home network using 4G or 5G cellular data instead of traditional fibre or copper wiring.

They offer the benefit of portability and can be up and running as soon being fitted with a Sim and powered on, rather than having to wait usually a couple of weeks for a wired phone line connection to go live.

Below is a comparison of mains powered 4G and 5G sim routers from leading manufacturers, from budget to high end models

Models from D-Link, Huawei, Oppo, ZTE, and TP-Link have been shortlisted below into three categories depending on whether you need a no-frills basic model, a state of the art 5G, 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
Huawei B628600/10012TS9Wi-Fi 52x 1000
TP-Link AC1200300/506SMAWi-Fi 54x 1000
TP-Link Deco X50-4G300/506SMBWi-Fi 6 AX30003x 1000
Premium
Huawei B8181566/15019TS9Wi-Fi 52x 1000
Huawei 5G CPE Pro 31800/2505Gn/aWi-Fi 6 AX18002x 1000
ZTE 5G CPE MC801A3800/5005GTS9Wi-Fi 6 AX18002x 1000
Oppo 5G CPE T1a4070/ -5Gn/aWi-Fi 6 AX18002x 1000
TP-Link Deco X50-5G3400/9005GSMBWi-Fi 6 AX30001x 2.5Gbps
2x 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 to all but the very high end models.

For basic mobile internet access you could instead consider a battery powered mobile dongle, or a smartphone providing a shared 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.

These entry level models should 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 permitting). You also get much faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Gigabit wired Ethernet.

Usually the differences between entry level and mid range models come down to features and wired and wi-fi networking performance, rather than 4G speed.

They generally range between £100 – £200.

3) Premium

These premium routers represent the current state of the art for 4G and 5G internet routers. Pricing is secondary in this section – it’s about assessing the best performance options available.

As these router are usually the top of the range from each manufacturer, they tend to also include the latest specifications for local networking and features.

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 300 Mbps Wireless N 4G+Cat 4 LTE Router, 4G Network Micro SIM Slot Unlocked, With WAN Connection, No Configuration required, Parental Control, Easy Management, UK Plug (TL-MR6400)Huawei B320 White, 4G + CAT 4 LTE Low-Cost Mobile WiFi Router, 195Mbps WiFi N 300Mbps, Ethernet + External Antenna Port & FREE SMARTY Sim CardD-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
Price (UK)£128.00£69.97£59.99

Affiliate links / prices updated 2024-06-22

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.


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

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.


Good value basic router
Older model so limited to 150 Mbps download
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.

Sale!

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

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-Fi 5. 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. Usually the cheapest of the four, it also benefits from a Gigabit wired network port.

Mid Range

HUAWEI B525 2017 -4G 300Mbps, CAT 6, mobile WiFi Router, NOT UK warranty stock
B535-333, 4G+ 400Mbps LTE CAT 7 Mobile WiFi wireless Router, Unlocked to All Networks -Genuine UK Warranty STOCK- (Non Network Logo) + FREE SMARTY Sim Card- White
Best 4G
Huawei B628-265, CAT 12 4G/LTE CPE, Dual Band Wi-Fi Router, 600Mbps, Connect up to 64 Devices, Balong Chipset, Unlocked to any Network + UK Plug- White
TP-LINK Archer MR600 AC1200 4G+ Cat6 Mobile Wi-Fi Router Dual Band, 4G/3G Network SIM Slot Unlocked, No Configuration required, Support Guest Network & Parental Control, UK Plug
Best Wi-Fi
TP-Link AX3000 4G+ Wi-Fi 6 Router, 4G+ LTE CAT6 Coverage, Sim Card Slot, Upto 1500Mbps, add on for all Wi-Fi 7/6/5 Deco Mesh Wi-Fi, Ideal for Gaming & 4K,works with Amazon Alexa & Google (Deco X50-4G)
4G
300/50
300/100
600/100
300/50
300/50
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi 5
Wi-Fi 5
Wi-Fi 5
Wi-Fi 5
Wi-Fi 6 AX3000
LAN
4x 1000
4x 1000
2x 1000
4x 1000
3x 1000
Antenna
SMA
SMA
TS9
SMA
SMB
Price (UK)
£74.95
£112.34
£159.95
£119.99
£154.00
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
Price (UK)
£74.95
B535-333, 4G+ 400Mbps LTE CAT 7 Mobile WiFi wireless Router, Unlocked to All Networks -Genuine UK Warranty STOCK- (Non Network Logo) + FREE SMARTY Sim Card- White
4G
300/100
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi 5
LAN
4x 1000
Antenna
SMA
Price (UK)
£112.34
Best 4G
Huawei B628-265, CAT 12 4G/LTE CPE, Dual Band Wi-Fi Router, 600Mbps, Connect up to 64 Devices, Balong Chipset, Unlocked to any Network + UK Plug- White
4G
600/100
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi 5
LAN
2x 1000
Antenna
TS9
Price (UK)
£159.95
TP-LINK Archer MR600 AC1200 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
Price (UK)
£119.99
Best Wi-Fi
TP-Link AX3000 4G+ Wi-Fi 6 Router, 4G+ LTE CAT6 Coverage, Sim Card Slot, Upto 1500Mbps, add on for all Wi-Fi 7/6/5 Deco Mesh Wi-Fi, Ideal for Gaming & 4K,works with Amazon Alexa & Google (Deco X50-4G)
4G
300/50
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi 6 AX3000
LAN
3x 1000
Antenna
SMB
Price (UK)
£154.00

Affiliate links / prices updated 2024-06-22

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.


Great all-rounder 4G router
Currently lowest price in mid-range sector
Not the fastest when it comes to 4G
Better 4G and Wi-Fi is available (but not at this price)

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.


Fastest 4G upload speed in this class
Good wired and WiFi networking specs
Newer models provide faster 4G download

TP-Link Deco X50-4G

TP-Link are a long established and well respected manufacturer of a wide range of networking equipment. They’ve recently introduced a range of Wi-Fi access points and extenders to their catalogue – the “Deco Mesh” family.

I’m personally very impressed with these products. They can breath new life into old Wi-Fi4 equipment by bypassing the slow and horribly congested 150Mbps 2.4GHz bottleneck and allowing newer devices to transfer data ten or more times faster, without the need for a new and pricier Wi-Fi 5 or 6 router.

The Deco range starts with the fairly modest “Deco E3” with AC1200 Wi-Fi 5, but at the top end includes the incredible Wi-Fi 7 “Deco BE95” with 10 Gigabit/second wired Ethernet and up to 33 Gigabit Wi-Fi 7 wireless speeds.(3)

Most models in the Deco range are aimed at upgrading home and business wireless networks by providing high speed Wi-Fi access points that can be combined to form a “mesh” that covers are larger area.

However if you look for a “-4G” or “-5G” designation in the model name, this means the access point also features a 4G sim slot and modem which could be used as a fail-over backup of a fibre internet connection, or as a completely standalone 4G router like the other models on this page.

We recommend adding the Deco X20-4G and X50-4G models to your shortlist. The X20 has AX1800 Wi-Fi and the X50 has AX3000.

Speeds in the real world will probably be fairly close, but at the time of writing the X50-4G is on sale for the same price as the X20, making it the best choice (prices subject to change).

Sale!

Huge Wi-Fi upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 AX3000
Good mid range 4G performance
The excellent Wi-Fi does increase its price above the other Cat6 4G routers

Huawei B628

A recent addition to Huawei’s router line-up, the B628 offers a welcome increase in 4G download speed for very little additional cost.

Huawei brand this router as the 4G CPE Pro 2, indicating it to be a companion to their top of the range 5G CPE model. It’s missing the 5G and top end Wi-Fi 6 Plus of the 5G model, but still leads the way in the 4G mid range class.

Similar in appearance to Huawei’s more expensive B818 and their 5G router range, the B628 offers maximum 4G speeds of 600Mbps (down) and 100Mbps (up). This design is limited to just two Gigabit ports, but does still offer TS9 external antenna connectors.

The clear winner in the 4G mid range class, however some compromise has been made on its Wi-Fi spec, which limits it to a maximum 1,200Mbps 802.11ac from Wi-Fi5.

Sale!

600Mbps download / 100Mbps upload
Probably the best price/performance 4G on offer
Not Wi-Fi 6
Only 2 Gigabit ports

TP-Link AC1200 4G+ Cat6

Having recently dropped in price, the TP-Link AC1200 offers good value and 4G performance.

In 2023 it’s eclipsed by the new TP-Link Deco X20 and X50 4G routers, but these are both significantly more expensive.

If your other devices don’t support the new 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, or you just don’t require super fast wireless network transfer speeds, then the AC1200 4G+ is definitely still worth considering as it equals all but the Huawei B628 when it comes to 4G speed.

4G Spec

Aside from the Cat 12 Huawei B628 with its max of 600Mbps, it’s too close to call between all the other mid range 4G routers here and often the choice comes down to current pricing (which changes regularly!).

All offer 300/50 4G speeds, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and four Gigabit ports. These slightly older TP-Link routers can be excellent value and are sometimes discounted to around £100 on Amazon UK.


Good spec for its price
Good networking – Gigabit and 802.11ac
Not the absolute fastest at 4G

Recommendations – Mid Range

The 4G performance of the Huawei B628 makes it stand out, and is an excellent choice. The TP-Link Deco X50-4G trails it in 4G but offers massively improved wireless networking which could be more important depending the environment it’ll operate in.

Premium

HUAWEI B818-263
Recommended
ZTE MC801A HyperBox 5G WiFi Router Unlocked - WWAN - 2-Port-Switch - 802.11a/b/g/n/AC/AX - Dual-Band - débloqué - Blanc
OPPO 5G CPE T1a Router With Sim Slot LTE Cat20 WiFi Hotspot Wi-Fi 6 AX1800, Up to 4.07Gbps, 4X4 MIMO, Connect up to 32 Devices, Unlocked
Best Networking
TP-Link Deco X50-5G AX3000 Whole Home Wi-Fi 6, 5G/4G+Cat 6 Router,Add on Single Unit for All WiFi 7/6/5 Deco Mesh Pack for Extended Coverage Requirement,SIM Slot Unlocked, HomeShield, Works with Alexa
4G / 5G
1566/150
3800/500 (5G)
2500/300 (4G)
4070/- (5G)
2000/300 (4G)
3400/900(5G)
300/50 (4G)
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi 5
AX1800
AX1800
AX3000
LAN
2x 1000
2x 1000
2x 1000
1x 2.5Gbps
2x 1000
Antenna
TS9
TS9
SMB
Price (UK)
-
£264.95
£249.99
£249.99
HUAWEI B818-263
4G / 5G
1566/150
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi 5
LAN
2x 1000
Antenna
TS9
Price (UK)
-
Recommended
ZTE MC801A HyperBox 5G WiFi Router Unlocked - WWAN - 2-Port-Switch - 802.11a/b/g/n/AC/AX - Dual-Band - débloqué - Blanc
4G / 5G
3800/500 (5G)
2500/300 (4G)
Wi-Fi
AX1800
LAN
2x 1000
Antenna
TS9
Price (UK)
£264.95
OPPO 5G CPE T1a Router With Sim Slot LTE Cat20 WiFi Hotspot Wi-Fi 6 AX1800, Up to 4.07Gbps, 4X4 MIMO, Connect up to 32 Devices, Unlocked
4G / 5G
4070/- (5G)
2000/300 (4G)
Wi-Fi
AX1800
LAN
2x 1000
Antenna
Price (UK)
£249.99
Best Networking
TP-Link Deco X50-5G AX3000 Whole Home Wi-Fi 6, 5G/4G+Cat 6 Router,Add on Single Unit for All WiFi 7/6/5 Deco Mesh Pack for Extended Coverage Requirement,SIM Slot Unlocked, HomeShield, Works with Alexa
4G / 5G
3400/900(5G)
300/50 (4G)
Wi-Fi
AX3000
LAN
1x 2.5Gbps
2x 1000
Antenna
SMB
Price (UK)
£249.99

Affiliate links / prices updated 2024-06-22

TP-Link X50-5G Deco

The stand out features of the Deco X50-5G from TP-Link are it’s 2.5Gbps wired Ethernet network port and AX3000 Wi-Fi 6.

Wi-Fi 6 AX3000 provides a Wi-Fi network with maximum speeds of 574Mbps on the 2.4GHz channel, and 2,402Mbps on the 5GHz channel. When combined these give up to 3,000Mbps Wi-Fi network speeds.

All the other 5G routers here equal this speed on the 2.4GHz frequency, but can only offer 1,200 Mbps on 5Ghz (down from 2,400 Mbps on the Deco X50), so can only offer up to a total of 1,800Mbps Wi-Fi network transfer speeds.

TP-Links top of the range 5G Deco router in fact doubles the above speeds again, on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi channels, giving AX6000 speeds. Price also double though!

Note: The Deco models have connectors for external antennae but some are SMB, not SMA. The routers often include converters in the box where applicable, but if not they can be bought separately for only a few extra pounds.

Sale!

TP-Link X50-5G Deco
2.5Gbps Ethernet port
High end AX3000 Wi-Fi 6
Fast 3,000+ Mbps 5G (theoretical)
Only Cat6 4G (300/50Mbps)
Priced towards higher end

Huawei 4G Router 3 Prime B818

The B818 was released by Huawei in 2019 and is still probably the fastest 4G-only router available.

It’s the only router in this Premium section that is not 5G. While that makes it less future proof than the 5G models, in 4G only areas it should be able to match them for speed, and at a lower price.

Classed as LTE Cat 19, it offers theoretical 4G downloads of up to 1,600 Mbps and uploads of 150 Mbps – both around three times higher than most other 4G models here.

For an idea of real world speeds, Vodafone in Germany chose the B818 to use for their high end 4G service where it goes by the name “GigaCube CAT19”. Vodafone offers up to 500Mbps download on their 4G LTE network and real world 4G tests have shown download speeds around 300Mbps.

On the networking side the two Gigabit ports and 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5 should be sufficient, although Wi-Fi 6 is now becoming common at this price point and does offer noticeably higher speeds.

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.

Huawei B818
Cat19 4G gives fastest download in its class
High end wired and wireless performance
Pricey for a non-5G model
Older Wi-Fi 5 networking

Oppo 5G CPE T1a

Another newly released 5G router, the Oppo 5G CPE T1a offers top-end 5G performance at a price that undercuts some better known rivals.

Despite both having the same modem chipset (Snapdragon X55) Oppo and ZTE claim slightly different maximum download and upload speeds. It’s very likely that in reality they will both perform the same.

In 4G mode the Oppo is classed as 4G Cat20 and the ZTE is Cat22.

  • Oppo 5G CPE T1a (Cat20) – 2000 / 300 (down/up)
  • ZTE 5G CPE MC801A (Cat22) – 2500 / 300 (down/up)

They are also equal on the local networking front. Two Gigabit wired Ethernet ports and Wi-Fi 6 AX1800 wireless.

The Oppo lacks any connections for an external antenna, unlike the ZTE which has TS9 sockets.

Unless being able to connect an outdoor 4G or 5G antenna is a priority, our recommendation would be to select either the Oppo or ZTE based on whichever is priced lower.

At the time of writing (April 2023) the ZTE has the advantage of TS9 antenna connections, plus on paper better 4G performance, and at a lower price.

Were the pricing differences reversed the Oppo would likely become the best buy.


Top end 4 Gbps 5G download
Good price/performance

Can’t quite match the ZTE in 4G mode
No external antenna connectors

ZTE 5G CPE MC801A

A relative newcomer to the 5G router market, the ZTE has coming crashing straight in and knocked the Huawei 5G CPE Pro 3 from the top spot!

It equals or betters the spec of Huawei’s 5G CPE Pro 3, at a price currently over £100 cheaper.

In addition, for only a slight price premium over the 4G-only Huawei B818, it offers improved, 4G, 5G and Wi-Fi networking.

Its Qualcomm® SDX55 5G chipset has a maximum download of 3.8Gbps and 542Mbps upload (* theoretical). It also has top of the range 4G performance with LTE Cat 22 (2500/300 Mbps).

The wired Ethernet setup is the same as the other routers in the Premium class, with a pair of Gigabit RJ45 ports.

In wireless mode it equals the other 5G routers here with 1,800Mbps 801.11 Wi-Fi6 – AX1800. These are all a significant jump up from the Wi-Fi 5 (1,200Mbps) on the 4G Huawei B818.

Finally, it’s also the only 5G router that allows the connection of an external antenna via a pair of TS9 ports.

Fastest both 4G AND 5G spec
Price undercuts most 5G rivals
No 2.5Gb Ethernet port
Wi-Fi 6 but AX1800 not AX3000

Huawei 5G CPE Pro 3

Since the first 5G router models released back in 2019, Huawei’s 5G CPE Pro range has always offered high performance levels for those willing to pay a premium price.

Updated in early 2022 this newest (version 3) router has a lower theoretical maximum 1,800 Mbps download in 5G mode, compared to the 3,600 Mbps of the previous model (v2).

Wireless networking is still Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax on both models, but the version 3 maxes out at 1,800Mbps (AX1800) compared to 3,000Mbps of the earlier, more expensive AX3000 model.

4G performance

In locations where 5G isn’t yet available, the Huawei 5G CPE Pro 3 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 routers usually only manage 50Mbps, so this 5G-ready device is still quite an improvement.

5G performance

Where 5G is available the 5G CPE Pro 3 offers the following performance potential:-

  • Download – up to 1,800 Mbps *
  • Upload – up to 250 Mbps

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

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is the latest 802.11 AX1800 sometimes called Wi-Fi 6 Plus. This offers speeds up to three times that of Wi-Fi 5 802.11ac along with lower latency. Huawei claim a maximum transmission rate of 1,800 Mbps, and the ability to connect up to 128 devices.

As with the 4G Huawei B818 and previous 5G CPE Pro models, Gigabit Ethernet networking is included but limited to just two ports at the back.


Huawei 5G CPE Pro 3
Next gen 5G performance
Wi-Fi 6 AX1800 gives potentially over 1 Gbps Wi-Fi networking
Expensive, but future proof
No option for attaching external antenna
Price and availability

Real Word Speed Differences

While maximum theoretical 5G speeds approach 4Gbps (Gigabits per second) 5G speeds, it’s unrealistic to expect to reach even close to these kind of figures in the real world. Your 5G providers network will mostly likely be the limiting factor rather than 5G modem hardware.

The UK average for 5G when surveyed across a range of devices in early 2022 was between 100 – 200 Mbps.(1) However, some users with high end routers are reporting in excess of 500Mbps download speeds.(2)

Recommendations – Premium

The ZTE 5G CPE MC801A and TP-Link Deco X50 5G stand out here. The TP-Link has the best Wi-Fi but is more expensive and slower in 4G mode.

The Huawei B818 is a good alternative 4G-only router if you don’t yet need 5G.

Features Guide

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 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 100 Mbps 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 1,000 Mbps transfers between devices while at the same time sharing access to the 4G router as an internet access point.

In 2023, 1 Gbps Ethernet is still more than sufficient for internet access using 4G or 5G, but there could now be small business or even home environments where there are high-end wired devices equipped with 2.5Gb or even 10Gb Ethernet ports.

These higher bandwidth devices are most likely to be found on network-attached hard drives (NAS) or possibly advanced Wi-Fi 6E or Wi-Fi 7 mesh wireless access points capable of transmitting data at speeds exceeding 1,000Mbps.

If your work regularly involves accessing data at full speed on these devices, then a router with 1Gb ports will become a restriction. Some of the latest high end 5G models now include 2.5Gbps Ethernet ports such as the TP-Link 5G+”Deco” range.

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 a newer standard and combines both 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels and can give speeds that theoretically match wired Gigabit Ethernet at close range. For maximum real word performance though I’d still go with wired Gigabit were possible.

Many of the top end models now come with Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6 Plus. Combined with the growing number of smartphones, laptops and PC wireless cards that are also Wi-Fi 6 this provides some excellent networking performance that can in some circumstances beat even a fully wired Gigabit connection.

In summary:-

Wi-Fi 4 is more likely to suffer from interference from neighbouring wi-fi networks and also sometimes from electrical equipment. If Wi-Fi transfer speeds are important to you, avoid Wi-Fi 4 and go for a model with Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 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, generally 1700 – 3000 Mbps

One factor to bear in mind is whether the devices you’ll connect to your router support the faster standards. There’s little point (other than future proofing) in paying extra for 1800Mbps 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.

InSSIDer screenshot
InSSIDer showing a crowded 2.4GHz spectrum

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.

Sources

Prices updated on 2024-06-22. Affiliate links & images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Page updated on Monday, October 02 2023

33 thoughts on “Best 4G and 5G Routers (Grouptest)”

  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)?

    • 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.

  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

      • Hi,

        Unfortunately due to CGNAT on the EE network I need a router that will let me choose 2600mhz AND let me select IPV4 in the APN settings.

        The B525 let’s me choose abdn but NOT the APN IP version.

  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.

  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 🙂

    • 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.

    • 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.

  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.

  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?

    • 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.

  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.

    • 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.

  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

  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.

  10. Hi

    Can you tell me if you tested the RJ11 port of the Huawei B818 and can confirm it support VoLTE phone call?

    Does making a call impact the upload/download speed?

    Do either the Huawei 5G CPE Pro or 5G CPE Pro 2 have an RJ11 port and support VoLTE phone call?

    Thanks

    • I’ve seen some B818s with an RJ11 socket and some without. The B818-263 listed on amazon.co.uk does show an RJ11 in the pictures, but I don’t know if it offers VOLTE, sorry.

      I’m just playing with a CPE Pro 2 now. It has an RJ11 on the back, but I can’t see VOLTE in the interface. I’ve read that it may be disabled in the firmware. I don’t have a phone I could plug in to test either I’m afraid.

  11. Hi
    This is such a great article and very informative – can I please ask a question? I am moving from an area in Scotland with fibre to an area with very slow wifi – I have been advised to try 4g and am happy to buy a router and external antenna but want to make sure I get the right one for our needs. I have two teenage girls who have been (and may continue to do) online school and sports classes due to lockdown. I want to future proof if I can so need something powerful enough to enable streaming of video. Also is there any extenders to ensure the signal reaches to their bedrooms ?

    • Hi Claire, Starting with range extenders… I’ve seen some pretty high performance ones available now (usually called “home wifi mesh”) which would work just as well with 4G routers as normal fibre routers. I expect though that any 4G router with 802.11ac / WiFi5 should be fine on it’s own unless maybe the bedrooms are 2 or more floors above the router location.

      If you do get some range extenders make sure to get a 4g router with a Gigabit (1000Mbps) port or you’ll only get a fraction on their true speed.

      For the 4G I’d check the four networks coverage predictions – EE, Vodafone, o2 and Three (probably in that order) to make sure you’re not in a signal blackspot. If you’re doing online video you’ll almost certainly need a provider that allows unlimited data each month.

      https://kenstechtips.com/index.php/mobile-operators-explained-virtual-networks-and-coverage.

      Hopefully an external antenna won’t be needed. I’d get a router first and see how it performs. I’d place the router on a windowsill or shelf on the side of the house that faces the transmitter. If the signal is still very low then that’s when an ext. antenna might help.

  12. Hi,

    I have just moved into a village that doesn’t have fibre, I do however have a line of sight with the tower, it’s about 0.5 miles away. I currently have the Huawei B311 which gets me about 7-10MB down and 5-7MB up. This is with the default antenna in the B311. I know very little about LTE routers, so please excuse any naivety.

    I would like something WiFi 6 so I have the best possible wifi speed as being plugged directly into the router isn’t available for all devices. I can’t seem to find the ‘Huawei CPE Pro 2’ anywhere for anything less than £500! I have seen the NETGEAR LAX20 Nighthawk and was wondering if you have any experience/knowledge of this router? I can’t seem to find many articles/information about anyone’s experience with this router over LTE as it also works as a normal router. It does have two antenna inputs so I was planning on matching this with an antenna of some sort, I was thinking about the Poynting XPOL-2 antenna, assuming because of a line of sight, a directional antenna should work fine.

    What would you recommend for me?

    • Just to add to my previous comment, currently, I have a Network 3 sim card which I think is why my speed is so bad, I’m planning on upgrading to a faster provider, I hear EE and Vodafone are the fastest where I am (Saffron Walden, Essex).

      • Yes, the CPE Pro 2 does seem to go in and out of stock. I just checked and the earlier version is available for £379 – https://amzn.to/316Cd7p

        This may actually be the better model to get as it can connect to an external antenna whereas the CPE Pro 2 can’t. They’re both WiFi6, the v1 is AX1800 and the v2 AX3000, so theoretically the v2 is faster but very few devices have AX3000 capable network hardware so I doubt there would be a real world difference between the two.

        I haven’t any personal experience of the Netgear LAX20. Just checked specs and it has AX1800 Wi-Fi so the same as CPE v1 and is available for around £300. However it’s only 4G cat6, so you’d be paying nearly double the price of other cat6 routers just to get the faster WiFi.

        I think the Netgear would work fine but I’m not sure it’s good value. If it were me I’d either save money and get one of the mid range cat6 routers with WiFi5 (which is still 802.11ac 1,200Mbps), or a CPE Pro. That way you’d get the fast WiFi but also probably better 4G performance and be 5G ready.

        Finally, my experience of the Three network wasn’t good. As you say both EE and Vodafone should be better. I expect you’ll want unlimited data and last I checked Vodafone was slightly cheaper than EE for this.

  13. This is such a detailed article regarding LTE routers. Thank you so much. It really did help me. Thank you.

  14. Hi Ed, that was a very good read and I hope you can help me.

    I’ve just moved into our new home in Narborough, Leicester (LE19 2RG) and found how we can’t get Fibre at the moment, therefore I am opting to go down the 4G route.

    I’ve tested all 4 service carriers and O2 performs the best overall, closely followed by Vodafone. With O2, I had 4G+ all around the house and when positioned near the windows upstairs, I could get 20-25mbps at times. On the O2 website I can see there is a Mast not too far which doesn’t direct hit the house, but with an external antenna fixed to the back that can tilt left, it will directly hit.

    I’m looking for the best 4G router compatible with O2. Me and the Mrs both work from home and attend daily meetings via Zoom/Google Meet, have Sky Q, Netflix and PS5 therefore require a good stable connection.

    I’d want to see how a 4G router performs first before needing to add an external antenna.

    What 4G router do you think would be best for my requirements?

    Look forward to hearing from you soon and appreciate your help.

    • If it was me I really like the Huawei B628 (also called 4G Cpe Pro). It’s spec is up to 600/100 Mbps 4G (down/up) with good 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Currently around £160 I think. https://amzn.to/3EsWVjj

      On Amazon the prices change every time I look. As I write this the B535 is only £99. 4G is 300/100. I believe the Wi-Fi performance is the same between them both. The B535 has 4 network ports, the others just 2. Both can take external antennas although they use different types of connector.

      As far as I know all the routers should work on all UK 4G bands (although Amazon don’t actually list the bands in the product description). O2 use 1,3,8,20 & 40 – https://www.4g.co.uk/02-4g-network-summary

      If you have extra money available you could look at the Huawei 5G CPE Pro and Pro2. These keep coming in and out of stock and the prices vary also. I bought the Pro2 to test earlier late last year and at the time it was £380. Right now it’s £500 which I definitely don’t think is worth it.

      The Pro1 is £350, has slightly slower Wi-Fi (although still very fast) and potentially is a bit slower at 5G than the Pro2 although I don’t know what real world difference there would be.

      If you did go for a 5G model I’d choose the cheaper Pro1 as it’s better value and can take an external antenna which could help with 4G (probably not on 5G though).

      Finally the 5G models do have better Wi-Fi which could possibly help if you’re both say running Zoom meetings at the same time. I do wonder when I see these failed interviews on the news where the audio or video keep freezing if the problem is with their home network rather than internet connection.

      If you do have a room set up as a home office I’d personally see if you can connect to the router with an Ethernet cable rather than Wi-Fi Save the Wi-Fi for when you need to move around and for getting Netflix to the TV etc.

    • Not sure. TP-Link themselves say on their website…

      “LTE-Advanced Cat 6
      Supports 4G+ Cat6 to boost the data speeds of up to 300 Mbps.”