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What's The Best International Mifi Device in 2018?
When you can't go local, GlocalMe is the next best thing

Posted:
May 1, 2018
Updated:
May 3, 2018

This post makes the following assumptions: You are a digital nomad who works online while traveling internationally, you change countries frequently (every other month or more), and you need large amounts of data (more than 10 Gbs per month). If these assumptions do not apply to you, this advice may not, either.
May contain affiliate links.

I've been told that I have a delivery problem. My delivery problem doesn't mean packages that I send arrive late. My problem is that I have a tendency to tell people that it's stupid to spend $10 a day on an ugly overpriced internet brick when you can often get a local sim card for $10 a month. The people who have a problem with my delivery are usually people who have already spent around $200 or more on this ugly overpriced brick, so they get mad at me for making them feel bad, instead of getting mad at the person that smiled at them while sliding a hand into their pocket and emptying their wallet. Fine, I get it. People don't care about what you say, they care about how you made them feel, and buyer's remorse is a bitch.

Guess what? I don't need to change my delivery now that there is an international mifi that I legitimately think is a good deal. I'm very excited about it. And I wasn't even paid for it. I asked them for a device to sample, but they never wrote back. This post is not sponsored at all. I am genuinely excited that there is an international mifi that is not an overpriced scam for people who don't read the fine print. I just need to work on telling people about it before they waste their money on the scammy one. And maybe I'll try to smile a little, while I do it.


The Best International Mifi Device in 2018

GlocalMe.

It's a new company out of Hong Kong. I had never heard of them until Oliver, a Swiss Travel Blogger and friend of mine, showed me his GlocalMe device (which he has reviewed on his own blog). I was shocked, because I thought I had researched international internet options pretty thoroughly when I wrote the 2018 Ultimate Guide to International Sim Cards a few months prior, and I had never heard of GlocalMe. So I researched it, and what follows is 5 reasons why it's the best mifi device for getting online when traveling (and only a few reasons why it's not).


1. You Can Supplement With a Local Sim Card.

GlocalMe uses its own global network to give you coverage across 100+ countries for a pretty good price. But—and here's the part I'm really excited about—the device also has a slot where you can put in a local sim card and use that instead, if you're in one of the places, like Thailand, where you can buy a sim and a month's worth of data for $15 at any 7-11. A local sim card will always be cheaper than any international sim card or device, but you don't always have time to get one, and some countries have barriers to letting you get one (for example, Germany requires you to be a resident), which is why you may need an international mifi from time to time.

Why this is better than their competitors:

Skyroam requires you to use their service. It is not unlocked. If you buy a Skyroam Solis and come to the very reasonable and informed conclusion that their service is significantly more expensive than your other options, you can't put any other sim cards in the device; all you're left with is an ugly expensive useless brick. Pairing an unlocked device like a Huawei mifi with a service like KeepGo, KnowRoaming, or Gigsky, is another way to keep your options open, possibly using the international service or possible going local. But GlocalMe is literally the only device that lets you do it at the same time, with two sim slots, so that you don't need to juggle several sim cards and hope you don't lose one.


2. Data is Sold Monthly and Annually, Not Daily

Like Keepgo and KnowRoaming, you can buy data credit from GlocalMe and have it last for awhile (from a month to a year), not evaporate at the end of the day (the SkyRoam way).

Why this is better than the competitors:

Technically this only makes GlocalMe better than the daily packages (SkyRoam) and 2-week packages or sim cards (Gigsky, Orange, and some AIS sims) which sells data packages or sim cards that last 2 weeks—and then dry up after the time is up, whether you used the data or not. In these terms, GlocalMe is equivalent to KeepGo, KnowRoaming, Three, and other AIS sims, which also sell data that can last up to monthly or even annual basis (in the case of KeepGo and KnowRoaming). But as you're about to see, GlocalMe often beats their competitors' prices.


3. It's Usually Cheaper

Admittedly, you do need to buy the device, which run between $120 for the U2 device, to $150 for the G3. That puts the U2 at only $10 cheaper than a Huawei mifi, which tends to cost about $130, and the G3 identical in price to SkyRoam and GigSky around $150. The only provider who can beat this price is Keepgo, which will sell you the same Huawei device and 1Gb of data for $99.

However, GlocalMe delivers on its promise to compete with local carriers, with data prices as low as $2/GB in China, often around $10/GB in most places, with the most expensive (that I found) as $34/Gb in Peru.

Why this is better than the competitors:

These prices mean that GlocalMe is always cheaper than KnowRoaming, usually cheaper than SkyRoam, GigSky, and KeepGo, and pretty comparable to local or quasi-local sim cards, like Orange, Three, and AIS.


4. Easily Manage and Monitor Your Data Use In-App

If you have a G3 you can manage the app on your GlocalMe device. If you have the screen-less U2, you have to get the app on your phone and manage from there. From this app you can manage your account balance, and top up if need be.

Why this is better than the competitors:

SkyRoam and Gigsky don't have an app. The easy-to-use app is one of the features that distinguishes KnowRoaming from its competitors, and now GlocalMe has matched KnowRoaming in app convenience, and beaten them in prices.


5. All The Same Features as Other Mifis, and Also Doubles as a Powerbank

Just like SkyRoam and a Huawei mifi, GlocalMe's signal can be shared among 5 devices (actually, Huawei can be shared among up to 10, so if you travel is a large cluster, that's the device for you). Also like them, it has fast 4G connectivity. Similar to the others, it has a device connectivity range of approximately 10 meters. Like SkyRoam, GlocalMe offers a one year warranty to protect you against a defective device.

Where the GlocalMe really shines is in its battery. The U3 and G3 have 15 hours' working time, and the U2 only slightly less with 13 hours' working time. Not only is that superior to the 8 hours SkyRoam gives you, and the paltry 4 hours you get from a Huawei, but the GlocalMe is the only device that can be used as a powerbank, sharing its surplus energy with your other devices, simply by plugging them in via usb.

Why this is better than the competitors:

GlocalMe matches its competitors on all technical specs, except for the Huawei's 10-device capacity (over the standard 5), and then raises the bar by doubling as an additional power bank to charge your other devices.


Allright, quit with the unicorn rainbow farts and tell us what don't you like about GlocalMe?

There are only a few qualities that make GlocalMe slightly less than perfect.


1. “Unlimited” is Even Less Unlimited Than Others

All “unlimited” plans do actually have an effective limit in the form of a “fair use” throttle point, after which they significantly slow down your download speed—and none of them are excited about advertising it. SkyRoam throttles at 500Mbs per day for both the 3G rentable device as well as their so-called “unlimited” $99-125/month plan, and 1Gb for the $10/day Solis.

GlocalMe's global “unlimited” plan costs $398/year (average $33/month), and throttles you after 2GB a month. That's essentially $16.50/GB. It's not terrible, and as long as you don't stream movies or use it for some other very data-heavy purpose, you may not exceed that limit. But it's not that good.

In other words, while their 2GB/month throttle point on their “unlimited” plan is not a dealbreaker for me, it may be for some, and thusly is worth mentioning.


2. You Can Bounce Between Multiple Sims, But Not Multiple Plans

The thing that I really love about GlocalMe is that they don't hold you hostage to their service like ScamRoam does. They are like the poly-amorists of the international connectivity world—after you buy their device you are free to purchase packets from them, or from other providers. They even make it easy for you to do this, with their multiple sim slots. It's like they are the only ones who know that if you love something you set it free, and if it loves you, it will come back.

BUT an important detail to know is that, within their plans, you do not have choice over which plan you're using at any moment. For example, if you buy a monthly International GlocalMe data packet, which will work in any one of the 100+ countries they cover, start using it, and then buy one of their local packets, the local packet will not begin until the global one you already started has finished. You cannot choose to put the global data plan on hold, use up your localized GlocalMe plan, and then switch back to global later in the month.

For this reason, my friend who has been happily traveling with his GlocalMe for over two years never buys the global monthly or annual data packets; he only buys the localized GlocalMe plans. This does not making GlocalMe a bad option. For example when I was in India two years ago, their bureaucracy was such that it took me almost a week to get a local sim card, the application form was so long and complex they even asked me what my father does for a living, and then when I finally got it, it stopped working when I got on a bus and went to a different state in India. Somewhere like India, where they make it hard to go local, would be a great place to go with GlocalMe.


3. Their Site is Horrible.

I found many spelling errors, which I notified customer service about. When I chatted with customer service, they could not provide me with anyone to contact about that, nor could they email me a transcript of our conversation, for my notes. I had to just copy and paste it to a word document. Also, the data package search is so cumbersome. When looking for data package, you have to search by country one-by-one, and only after first filtering by continent. And then you can't search by time period (one month versus one year). Their coverage map is only loosely alphabetized. Their site is so tedious and user-hostile I feel like it's 2005. They're burying their needle-sharp great deals under a haystack of a messy website, and I don't know how anyone is expected to find it. But I guess they're a little like me—good service, shoddy delivery. So I can't really hold it against them, can I?


Conclusion

I can no longer say that you have to be an idiot to buy a branded mifi device from the same company that provides your service. I now have to say you have to be an idiot to buy a branded mifi device from the same company that provides your service—unless it's a GlocalMe.

The only traveler that does not win with this device is someone who is going to one of the few countries they don't cover (mostly in Africa) or someone who is only going to be gone for a few days, and actually does save money by renting a SkyRoam. However, if GlocalMe expands coverage, or starts renting their devices for a good price, they will pretty much be the best mobile data solution for all international travelers.

For just about everyone else, GlocalMe is clearly the best international mifi device—and service—of 2018.

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