AT&T entered the 4G LTE market a little late, but they have been launching 4G ready devices at a steady pace ever since. The AT&T Elevate is a 4G mobile hotspot for the AT&T network and runs $269.99 without a contract or $69.99 with a 2-year commitment. The AT&T Mobile Hotspot Elevate 4G connects up to five Wi-Fi enabled devices to the Internet with speeds up to 10x faster than 3G. With no software to install and a robust nationwide network, this hotspot should be ready for all the road warriors out there! We contacted AT&T and they sent out out a loaner unit for us to try out and review.
The AT&T Elevate showed up in a nice looking full color retail box that has the Sierra Wireless logo on it. Sierra Wireless is the company that makes the Elevate 4G and they have been in the modem business for quite a while.
On the back of the box it shows the hotspot can connect to five devices and mentions that it is compatible with laptops, tablets, music players, cameras and gaming consoles.
Opening the box up we found the basic instructions and the mobile hotspot itself.
After taking everything out of the box, we find that the Elevate comes bundled with a wall charger, USB to micro-USB charging cable and the hotspot itself. The charger is rather small, but we won’t be using it. Personally, we tend to charge our mobile devices directly from our laptop or our notebook power brick that has a built-in USB port for charging devices like this.
At 3.8 x 2.2 x 0.7 inches (LxWxD) and weighing 3.6 ounces, the AT&T Elevate is a rather small device that can easily slip into a purse, pocket, backpack or wherever your heart desires.
The sides of the hotspot are tapered and have a rubberized coating on them to help you from dropping the expensive device.
Along the top edge of the AT&T Elevate you’ll find the power button next to an audio switch that mutes the devices speaker. The device beeps when you have a new text message or when a device connects, as well as notifies you when your battery
Along the bottom edge there are two external antenna ports in case you wanted to get better reception and the microUSB charging port. We are glad to see that they went with a microUSB charging port as that is what most cell phones use these days and we can travel with just a single USB charging cable.
On the back of the AT&T Elevate you’ll see that the back panel is removeable, which makes sense as you need a place for the SIM card and the battery.
With the cover slid off, sure enough we see a large battery that is nearly the entire size of the hotspot!
When you remove the cover you also gain access to the microSD memory card slot and the reset button that does a hard reset in the event that your device locks up. The microSD slot supports memory cards that are up to 32GB in capacity. You might be wondering why you would want a microSD card slot on a hotspot, but it is for quickly sharing data between the devices connected to the hotspot.
The AT&T Elevate uses a Lithium Ion Battery that run at 3.7 Volts with a capacity of 1800mAh. This is enough power t keep the AT&T Elevate surfing the web for up to five hours at a time between recharges. Our testing showed we got on average 4.5 hours of battery life, which is fairly close to what is advertised.
Under the battery pack, we can see the SIM card slot, the moisture sticker that changes colors (and voids your warranty) if it gets wet and the usual numbers for the device.
The center of the device houses a 1.77-inch LCD display that boasts a 160 x 128 screen resolution. This screen
displays just about all the information you could possibly need and it is very useful. When we fired up the device for the very first time we found that it needed a Firmware update. The firmware for this device is done over the air (OTA), so no need to do it yourself.
Once the firmware was updated the device was working like normal and the default display screen can be seen above. It gives you the network ID and password, battery and signal levels, GPS signal, how much data you’ve used, and more. We really like how it tells you exactly how much data the Elevate has used, so you know not to go over your 5GB data plan as it displays all the data used that month and not just for one session like other hotspots.
If you click the power menu button it will let you set the advances features of the hotspot up. The first option is to activate Wi-Fi protected setup which is advised. You can change the Wi-Fi encryption
(WPA2 Personal AES and WPA/WPA2 Personal are your options) along with the
network ID, password, and other settings as the Elevate supports Wi-Fi 802.11
b/g/n. The next option tells you that you are able to personalize your settings by going to http://att.elevate once you are connected to the hotspot. After that, it shows if you have and unread text messages or alerts and then finally on the last menu the Elevate displays your telephone number and a list of important device numbers like the IMEI number.
Once you log into the device you can monitor all sorts of useful information and have access to more features than what you can use on the device itself.