Solis 5G alone and attached to a backpack

2024 Solis 5G Mobile Hotspot Review

For years, I’ve been a regular user of Solis mobile hotspots and have used them for several international trips (and some domestic). Of course, as the years have gone on, my Solis 1 device has grown a bit old. While it still works just fine, it has been discontinued and replaced by newer models on the Solis site. This includes the Solis 5G, which includes a number of upgrades.

When the Solis 5G was first announced, I considered picking one up to review. But, since my Solis 1 was still kicking, I ultimately decided against it. Yet, as luck would have it, I ended up receiving the new device as a gift!

So, what does the Solis 5G have to offer and how does it compare to the original? Let’s take a closer look at the latest device.

Solis 5G Review
Solis 5G: A Futureproof Mobile Hotspot Option at a Cost
4
Network compatability
4G, 4G LTE, 5G
Concurrent device connections
Up to 16
Data included?
Yes, 1 GB per month
Save 10% on Devices and Data
Code: Money30

The Solis 5G is a reliable and well-built mobile hotspot device that’s perfect for traveling. This model also adds some new features, such as SignalScan and a 2.4 inch LCD touchscreen for easier management. The only problem is that this model retails for more than double the Solis Lite. Then again, with support for 4G LTE and 5G, this model provides greater future-proofing that may make it worth it for travelers who can afford to upgrade.

Pros
  • Device display makes it easier to manage
  • SignalScan can help you find a better network
  • 1 GB of global data per month included
Cons
  • Cost more than double the Solis Lite model
  • Using as a powerbank can drain quickly

My Experience with the Solis 5G

Solis 5G WiFi hotspot package

The cost

Let’s start with the obvious: the cost. Currently, the Solis 5G retails for $399.99 on the Solis site. However, this does include 1 GB of global data per month and ships for free in the United States.

Also, if you’d like to save 10% on this device, another Solis device, or data purchases, you can use the code MONEY30 at checkout.

Opening the device

In the box for your Solis 5G, you’ll find the hotspot itself as well as a charging cable and a SIM ejector tool. By the way, the 5G has a USB-C charging port and the provided cable is USB-A to USB-C. My device happened to have a bit of battery power when it arrived, but you’ll likely want to charge yours up when you get it.

The device weighs 8.6 ounces and measures 5.4″x3.2″x0.6″. According to the Solis sites, it’s also IP54, meaning that it has limited water resistance (but is not waterproof). As for the LCD screen, it’s 2.4″ diagonally. Meanwhile, there’s also a spot on the top of the 5G where a strap could be fed through and attached to a backpack or other bag.

Notably, the shape and build of the 5G are a departure from Solis’s signature orange circles (although orange does find its way into the ruggedized corners). Instead, this device reminds me a lot of a Lacie hard drive I have — although it’s both thinner and less grippy than that. Overall, I do like this different design even if it’s not as eye-catching per se.

SIMO My Plans: Lifetime Data screenshot

Activating the device

When you first turn on your Solis 5G, the device will share a few tips on the LCD screen. Then, you’ll arrive on the homescreen. Here, at the top, you’ll see the device’s battery power, the time, and current connection and network status. In the main part of the screen, you’ll also see how many devices are currently connected to the device, a menu button, the SignalScan feature (more on that later), a button to view Wifi network info, and the Manage Data Plan button.

To get started with the device, you’ll want to tap the Manage Data Plan option. While that might sound as though you’ll be able to actually manage your data plan on the device, in reality, you’ll need to visit buy.simo.co. You can also have the device display a QR code that you can scan with your phone to get to the site.

When you first set up your device, you’ll be able to activate your lifetime 1 GB of global data per month offer. Note that, to redeem, you’ll need to login using the same email address you provided when purchasing the device. Once your data plan is activated, your device will be able to connect to local networks and provide you with a Wifi connection.

With your data plan set, when you scan the QR code on the device in the future, you’ll be able to see how much of your data remains. You can further manage your plan by logging in. On the site, you can also rename your device and even customize the Wifi network name/password.

Interestingly, while you can log into this buy.simo.co site with your existing Solis account, you can only manage your Solis 5G device from this site (and not the solis.simo.co). This means that, if you have a different Solis device like I do, you have to manage them separately.

screenshot of the Solis 5G display

Connecting to your network

Once your data plan is live and your device is connected to a network, you can connect other devices to your Wifi by tapping the Wifi info button. This will display the network name and password (which, again, you can customize on the buy.simo.co site if you choose). Note that there are two Wifi connection options: a 2.4 GHz network and a 5 GHz network.

As new devices join, you’ll see them displayed on your 5G’s menu. If a device you don’t recognize happens to connect, you can go to the Menu, then Connected Devices, and select the device in question to block them from connecting. Be aware that, if the Private Wifi Address option is selected on your iPhone (or similar features are activated), Solis won’t be able to identify the connected device and will just say “unknown device.” Nevertheless, if you do have this feature on, you can match the Wifi Address to make sure you’re not accidentally blocking your own device.

The Solis 5G currently supports up to 16 simultaneously connected devices.

SignalScan

One super-useful feature found on the Solis 5G is SignalScan. If the network you’re on isn’t performing up to snuff, you can have SignalScan search for a better one. This process can take some time, but had yielded positive results in my experience.

When I first started using my device, Solis connected to a T-Mobile network that, honestly, didn’t seem to be working at all. Luckily, after using SignalScan, it connected me to AT&T instead, which gave me no issues. Given this experience, I could see this feature being a major plus for those on the go.

About the 5G

Here’s the thing. My phone doesn’t support 5G and, thus, I’m not even sure if I have strong 5G capabilities in my area. I bring this up because, each time I connected my Solis 5G to a network, it was always a 4G connection.

Luckily, while in Chicago, I had a chance to confirm that the Solis 5G does in fact support 5G connections. In fact, running a speed test on my laptop, I found that my Solis hotspot provided faster download speeds than my hotel WiFi (upload speeds did clock in slightly lower, but not by much). So, this test proved to be a great confirmation and reassurance about the Solis 5G’s capabilities.

screenshot of Solis 5G data usage

Buying additional data

If you should require additional data on top of the 1 GB per month that comes with the device, you do have a few options. Furthermore, these plans can be purchased via the buy.simo.co site.

You can read more about all of the different data plans in my overall Solis review — but, in short, I’d probably recommend the Global Pay-Per-GB option for this device. That way, you don’t have to worry about throttling. Plus, your unused GBs don’t expire. Because of this, I’d think it’s best to buy a bank of extra data so it’s ready for you if you go over your regular monthly allotment.

Power bank

As with past Solis devices, the 5G can double as a power bank to charge your other devices. To use this option, just use a USB-C cord to plug into the Solis 5G and plug the other end into your phone/headphones/whatever else.

To test this feature, I thought I’d plug my phone into the Solis and see how both devices turned out after a set amount of time. So, at 5:50 p.m., I plugged my iPhone with 36% battery into my Solis 5G with 29% battery. Then, when I checked back at 6:25 p.m., my iPhone was at 55% and my Solis 5G… was dead. D’oh!

Okay, so maybe testing this feature with just 29% battery wasn’t the best idea — but going from 29% to 0% in 35 minutes or so is also not great. In contrast, the standby battery for the 5G has held up fine and the Solis site says the device can last up to 24 hours with normal use.

This leads me to believe that using the Solis 5G as powerbank should be a last resort and not a feature you should plan on using. Honestly, that’s the same conclusion I came to with the regular Solis device as well, so this isn’t an epiphany. Ultimately, while it’s nice to have the option to top-up your phone battery in a pinch, those prioritizing WiFi should probably invest in a dedicated powerbank and let their hotspot just be a hotspot.

Solis 1

How it compares to my Solis 1

At this time, I have yet to take my Solis 5G on the road whereas my Solis 1 has traveled with me many times. Nevertheless, I can see some ways in which the 5G will be an improvement for me.

First, I like the updated device shape and think it will fit well in my backpack. Second — and far more importantly — having 1 GB of global data per month included is a gamechanger. With my Solis 1, I still need to purchase a plan each time I want to use it. Thankfully, that won’t be the case with my 5G.

Lastly, I also see a lot of value in the SignalScan feature. I’ve definitely been on trips where I noticed that I preferred one carrier’s network to another, so being able to “try again” if my network isn’t performing for me is great. I only wish that I had even more control and could dictate exactly which network I’d like it to default to.

Final Thoughts on the Solis 5G

man working on a laptop using a Solis 5G WiFi hotspot connection

There’s a lot that I like about the Solis 5G, including some of the upgrades they’ve made versus past devices. For one, having the LCD touchscreen is great along with features like SignalScan. At the same time, I wish they went just one step further and allowed you to fully manage your device/account with the device rather than requiring you to go to a website on a phone or computer. As for the build and shape of the device, I think they did a great job of reimagining the hotspot and think this form factor is preferable for packing.

Turning to the experience of actually using the hotspot, it’s already saved the day when my power went out at home. And while I was having trouble with one network, the ability to find another proved extremely useful. Of course, as I noted, I do have questions about the 5G capabilities and will definitely need to try the device out while traveling to get a better idea of how that important aspect works.

Finally, we have the cost of the device. At a retail price that’s more than double the Solis Lite, it’s hard to justify that upgrade — especially since the Lite also includes 1 GB of global data each month. Then again, while the Solis Lite may be cheaper, the Solis 5G does seem more “future-proof” as it supports the latest network speeds.

All in all, if you have extra money to spend on the Solis 5G over the Solis Lite, go for it. But, if you do need to “settle” for the Lite, I think you’ll be just fine. Either way, you’ll be getting a reliable Wifi hotspot device and a headstart on the data you’ll need for your travels.

Per FTC guidelines, this website may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise. (Note: advertising relationships do not have any influence on editorial content. Advertising compensation allows Money@30 to provide quality content for free. All editorial opinions are those of Kyle Burbank.)

Author

Kyle Burbank

Founder ~ Moneyat30
Kyle is a freelance writer - including being the head writer for Fioney.com. He also serves as editorial director for the Disney fan site LaughingPlace.com and the founder of Money@30.com. In 2015, Kyle and his wife Bekah moved from Los Angeles to Springfield MO in pursuit of greater financial freedom. Together, the pair enjoy travel, coffee, and spending time with their dog Rigby. Additionally, as of 2023, they become first-time homeowners.

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