You kind of expect to have your mind blown in the futuristic technological utopia that is Japan. But this time around it wasn’t the super-fast Shinkansen or even the high-tech toilets; for me, all the magic came from that little black box you see above.
You’ll recall my bitching and moaning about how ridiculously expensive prepaid data SIMs are for non-Japanese residents. Because my girlfriend and I both took our phones, I ended up renting a personal hotspot instead, the LG L-03E. Of course it didn’t deliver anywhere near the advertised 100Mbps download speeds, but it did prove to be a dependable source for fast LTE data. An example of the results:
Pretty damn impressive, particularly for someone like me who’s not had the pleasure of LTE service before this.
But it gets better… With the cellular radio turned off my Nexus 4 could endure an entire day of heavy use on a single battery charge — this despite the widely-acknowledged fact that battery life on Android devices is generally crap.
Likewise, the big 3600mAh battery on DoCoMo’s hotspot never let me down. I was expecting a fair amount of wake-from-sleep issues, but except for a few hiccups a fast data connection was always ready and waiting for the two handsets (plus one tablet) with us on the trip.
Now here’s the mind-blowing part: Despite all the bloatware on smartphones, the extra services that nobody wants and the deliberate billing obfuscations — what the hell are “anytime rollover minutes”?! — the inescapable future for all wireless carriers is to be dumb pipes for data. And these portable hotspots/MiFis/whatever you want to call them is the realization of that very thing. In plain English, why pay a surcharge for data on your phone when you can unbundle the data altogether and move it to a dedicated device?
It worked amazingly well for our two weeks in Japan, and I’m giving serious consideration to using a similar setup back here at home.