AT&T Elevate 4G Vs. Momentum 4G

AT&T Elevate 4G vs. Momentum 4G

Which Should You Get?
Elevate 4G
Which One?

Since last year, AT&T has trimmed their mobile hotspot & USB modem lineup from 4 devices to just two.

Enter the AT&T Mobile Hotspot Elevate 4G & USBConnect Momentum 4G.

With both devices being of the LTE/HSPA+ hybrid variety and offering 4G speeds ranging from  5 – 12 Mbps where AT&T 4G coverage is available, it boils down to two things:

Here I’ll cover the latter.


The Elevate 4G


The Elevate 4G courtesy of Sierra Wireless is AT&T’s first 4G LTE mobile hotspot.

With this guy, you’ll be able to connect up to 5 devices for 4 hours of battery life. However, you might be able to stretch it to 5 hours by using a shorter WiFi range, turning off the LCD and booting a few WiFi users.

Like any mobile hotspot, we can expect a few things:

  • Battery life lessening in proportion to the number of devices actively sipping from the 4G water fountain.
  • Expandable microSD storage up to 32 GB shared between connected devices.
  • Built-in GPS.
  • No software to install. Just connect via WiFi, plug in the password and happy interneting.
  • 802.11b, g, or n WiFi connectivity.
  • Connecting to any of the 5 AT&T speed tier

Outside of standard issue tech specs above, there are few things that help set the Elevate 4G apart:


The Display

AT&T 4G Elevate Display

While you’ve got standard fare info such as battery life, GPS, network status and such on the LCD, you’ve also got (*drumroll)

Data Used.

The really cool thing here is the Elevate 4G’s ability to track and display how much data you’ve used for the month.

While previous devices have attempted this, they would track your session (i.e. when you turn it on till when next you turn it off) and not the entire month.

This way, the device will help you avoid AT&T’s $10/GB overage charges for postpaid mobile hotspots or to let you know if you need to top up your prepaid or international data plan.


The Charger

USB Travel Charger

The Elevate 4G ships with a USB travel charger that breaks down into the wall charger component and the micro-USB charging cable.

That’ll come in handy for the road warriors out there whose cars are equipped with USB outlets (thus eliminating the need for an additional car charger).

Great for staying connected whether you’re trucking, RV’ing or cruising across states with the family.

It’s also handy for the Frank Abernales out there at crowded airport terminal charging stations.

You’ll be able to plug in your laptop then charge your hotspot and phone through your laptop if you’re lucky enough to snag that one available outlet. Try not to elbow anyone on your Richard Simmons speed walking over there when you spot it free though.

Alas, but I digress.


Design & Aesthetics

AT&T Elevate 4G Mobile Hotspot Rubber CapAt 3.8 x 2.2 x 0.7 inches (LxWxD) and weighing 3.6 ounces, it’ll fit in the palm of your hand but you won’t be doing bicep curls with it.

The coated rubber ends on the Elevate 4G help not just to give it traction/stability in shaky environments (think car dashboard and the like) but protect it in the event of the dreaded mobile device geronimo to the floor.

Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice the rubber ends are slightly raised above the level of the LCD.

This will provide additional protection if the poor thing were to bungee jump from your desk to ground via the micro-USB cord & (snap!) hit the floor face-down.

Likelihood of it happening?

Probably up there with the rapture and Mayan calendar but nice to have the design element there all the same.
Those guys at Sierra Wireless never stop working.



External Antenna Ports

AT&T 4G Elevate Mobile Hotspot | Bottom

MIMO AntennaUpon inspecting the bottom of the Elevate 4G, you’ll notice dual antenna ports for better reception.

That’s excellent news for the road warriors and neglected folk living in the dreaded ‘fringe areas’ notorious for sad reception.

To take advantage of this, you’ll need to snag a MIMO Antenna with 2 TS-9 Connectors from Sierra Wireless.

Thankfully, it only runs about $34.

Curiously neat, like a fine scotch at the speakeasy on a Thursday’s eve, you’ll look James Bond-ish with this thing smartly attached to your laptop.

Outside of that, there isn’t anything else worth mentioning.

On with the show!

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The Momentum 4G


The USBConnect Momentum 4G is AT&T’s first 4G LTE device.

At 2.6 by 1.02 by 0.5 inches, it’s about the same size as the once available USBConnect Shockwave 4G and takes up less than half the palm of your hand (unless you’ve got tiny kid hands).

Depending on your laptop, it can block access to adjacent ports.

No problem if you’ve got an isolated USB port but if you’re cramped for space, this can be quite annoying. Like any USB modem, there are some things you can count on:

  • No issues with battery life. USB supplied power keeps it up and running.
  • Built-in GPS.
  • Expandable microSD storage up to 32 GB.
  • Connect to any of the 5 AT&T speed tiers.

Here’s what the Momentum 4G has going for it:



Design | Form Factor

AT&T Momentum 4GIt’s tilting and swiveling USB port allow it to twist in just about any direction.

This is a smart move since you may be using this guy with a laptop, tablet, or convertible tablet.

Depending on whether you’ve got your tablet in portrait or landscape tilted in your arm, you may need or want the USB modem tilting away towards the sky for better reception.

You may also want it pointing away from hard surfaces that could damage it and your USB port in cramped spaces.

While it might not be likely you’re in a tiny cabin of a research vessel collecting data off the Gulf of Mexico (true story), you could have your sordid tale claustrophic space scenario that would put your device at risk.


Installation: Less Than a Minute

See for yourself (complete with melodramatic music):


External Antenna Ports

Like the Elevate 4G, the Momentum 4G has dual antenna ports for better reception.

As it’s also made by Sierra Wireless, the $34 MIMO Antenna with 2 TS-9 Connectors that works with the Elevate 4G will work with the Momentum 4G as well.

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So Which One Should You Get?

It Depends On Where & How You Use The Device

AT&T Elevate 4G vs. Momentum 4GIf you need to connect more than one device at a time and like having a built-in monitor of used data, then get the Elevate 4G Mobile Hotspot.

If you don’t like the hassle of having a battery run out, have multiple ports to spare and have no need to connect multiple devices, then get the  Momentum 4G.

Outside of these reasons, there’s no heavily compelling reason to get one over the other.


I’d go with the Elevate 4G.

It just looks cooler.

Which one would you or have you gotten? Let us know in the comments below.



This article is part of the 2012 AT&T 4G Review. Check each section out for a comprehensive look at AT&T 4G mobile broadband.




  1. Steven says:

    Can either of these units be used to extend internet to a wired network, or to a wi-fi router?

  2. Mark says:

    My choice is the USBConnect Momentum 4G because my installation is stationary. Wireless is the fastest for my rural location (Outside of using the “dish’.) so I use a wireless modem installed on a Cradlepoint MBR1000.

    I have the router installed in the attic for a short lead to the outside antenna. This provides WiFi for the house. It will be a long time before 4G LTE is available here in the backwoods, but until then whatever I can get is better than dial-up.

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