Here are the best 4G laptops you can buy in May 2021: Lenovo, Dell, Microsoft, & more!
Traditional laptops are good at many things, but on-the-go connectivity isn’t one of them. Whether you are a mobile professional or a regular user, you need to connect to the internet to get things done. To do so, you can either use public WiFi or smartphone tethering. But both these options come with their own set of issues. Using public WiFi poses a major security risk, and smartphone tethering can prove to be a bit finicky. On top of that, tethering can take a toll on your phone’s battery life which could leave you completely disconnected after just a couple of hours. This is where 4G laptops come into play.
These always-connected laptops let you access the internet using a built-in modem. This means that you can stay connected to the internet when you’re out and about, without dealing with the aforementioned issues. But choosing the right 4G laptop can be a difficult process, as most manufacturers offer the built-in modem as an optional upgrade. To tackle this problem, we’ve created this list of the best 4G laptops that you can buy in 2021.
Navigate this guide to the best 4G laptops:
- Top pick: Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 8
- Most affordable: Microsoft Surface Go 2
- Best battery life: Dell Latitude 7420
- Best 2-in-1: Microsoft Surface Pro X
- Best thin and light: Samsung Galaxy Book S
Top Pick: Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 8
Since most of the 4G LTE laptops on this list feature similar internal hardware, picking the best out of the lot boils down to personal preference. I’ve chosen the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 8 as my top pick as it packs in an excellent keyboard and a decent-sized 14-inch display. Another great thing about the Thinkpad X1 Carbon, which you won’t get with any of the other models on this list, is that Lenovo lets you customize most of its hardware as per your needs and budget. The laptop can be configured with Intel’s 10th Gen Core-i5 and Core-i7 U series processors, up to 16GB LPDDR3 2133MHz RAM, and up to 1TB PCIe SSD storage.
The 14-inch display on the laptop can also be configured based on your requirements. Display options range from a full-HD IPS display with a peak brightness of 400nits on the base model to a 4K UHD IPS panel with Dolby Vision HDR 400 support and 500 nits of peak brightness on the top variant.
For 4G connectivity, the laptop can be equipped with a Fibocom L850-GL CAT 9 modem. The modem offers peak download speeds of 450Mbps and peak upload speeds of 50Mbps, which is more than sufficient for most workloads. The modem is an optional accessory that can be added to any X1 Carbon configuration for an additional $175. It’s worth noting that Lenovo has already announced the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9, which features Intel’s latest 11th-Gen processors. So, if you’re not in urgent need of a laptop, we’d recommend waiting for the latest model to go on sale.
- The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon is my top pick for the best 4G laptops that you can get right now. It offers a fantastic keyboard, durable construction, and a minimal design. On top of that, Lenovo also lets you spec the device as per your needs, which is an option you won't get with any other laptop on this list.
Also great: Dell Latitude 5520
If you’re looking for a 4G laptop that packs the latest specs and you’re fine giving up on the thin-and-light aspect of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon then the new Dell Latitude 5520 is a great option. It can be configured with 11th-Gen Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, which offer better performance than the power-efficient 10th-Gen U series processor on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. The processor can be paired with up to 64GB of DDR4 non-ECC RAM and up to 2TB of M.2 PCIe NVMe storage.
Much like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, Dell offers plenty of customization options to let you decide exactly what you need on your laptop. Along with configurable RAM and storage options, the Dell Latitude 5520 can be configured with either a 15.6-inch FHD non-touch display or a 15.6-inch FHD touch display, both a backlit and non-backlit keyboard, either a 63Whr 4 cell or a 42Whr 3 cell battery, and more.
For 4G connectivity, the Dell Latitude 5520 features Intel’s XMM 7360 LTE-Advanced Pro modem, which offers peak download speeds of 450Mbps. The laptop works with Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon, and you can even get an unlocked model that will work with other carriers.
Most affordable: Microsoft Surface Go 2
Although the Lenovo X1 Carbon Gen 8 is a great 4G laptop, it is admittedly a bit pricey. In case you aren’t comfortable spending well over $1,500 on a laptop, then you can consider the Microsoft Surface Go 2. Although the device isn’t as powerful as the previous option, it’s certainly capable enough for Microsoft Office or browser-based workloads.
The convertible is powered by Intel’s Core M3-8100Y chip, coupled with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage. It features a 10.5-inch FHD display, with a built-in webcam. But sadly, it doesn’t come with a Surface Go Type Cover in the box and you’ll have to purchase one for an additional $99.99. Despite the additional cost though, the Surface Go 2 is still the cheapest 4G “laptop” you can get in the market right now.
For 4G connectivity, the Surface Go 2 makes use of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X16 modem, which is capable of 1Gbps peak download speeds and 150Mbps peak upload speeds. The Surface Go 2 supports both physical SIM cards and eSIMs.
Best battery life: Dell Latitude 7420
In case you’re often in situations where you don’t have a charging point close to you for hours on end, then the Dell Latitude 7420 will be the best pick for you. The laptop can be configured with up to a 63Whr battery that not only lasts quite long but also features fast charging support to help you quickly charge your laptop back to full whenever you do find a charging port.
Much like the Latitude 5520, the Latitude 7420 can be configured with Intel’s 11th Gen Core i5 and Core i7 processors, coupled with 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and up to 1TB of PCIe NVMe storage. The Latitude 7420 is also a great option for those of you who plug-in a lot of accessories on your laptop, as it offers a great selection of I/O ports. Its only downside is its 14-inch FHD display, which isn’t as bright as some of the other devices on this list. However, that plays a big role in the laptop’s great battery performance, so it’s kind of a necessary evil.
For connectivity, the Dell Latitude 7420 makes use of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X20 LTE modem, which supports Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T. The modem is capable of peak download speeds of 1.2Gbps and peak upload speeds of 150Mbps. The modem is an optional purchase that will run you up an additional $140.
- If you often find yourself in situations where you don't have access to a wall outlet for hours on end, the Dell Latitude 7420 is the best 4G laptop for you. It offers the best battery life out of all the Intel-based laptops on this list, but it's a bit pricey compared to the other options.
Best 2-in-1: Microsoft Surface Pro X
The Microsoft Surface Pro X is unlike any of the aforementioned laptops on this list, as it isn’t an Intel-based system. Instead, the device makes use of Microsoft’s SQ2 chip, which is based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 platform. The processor is paired with 16GB of RAM and up to 512GB of storage, for snappy performance.
The 2-in-1 device features a 13-inch PixelSense touchscreen FHD display with a peak brightness of 450 nits. It features an integrated webcam and a decent selection of ports to connect your peripherals, external storage drives, or even a display. But much like the Surface Go 2, it doesn’t come with the Surface Pro X keyboard in the box. For that, you’ll have to shell out an additional $139.99.
For 4G connectivity, the Surface Pro X features Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X24 modem. The modem supports peak download speeds of 2Gbps and peak upload speeds of 316Mbps. The device supports both physical SIM cards and eSIMs. The only downside of the Surface Pro X is its software. The device runs Windows 10 on ARM, which still doesn’t support all the apps you might use on your regular Windows 10 PC. But it should be good enough for most basic tasks.
- The ARM-based Microsoft Surface Pro X is another great 4G capable 2-in-1 device, which offers better performance and battery life than the Surface Go 2. But it may not be the best pick for power users as you might face some compatibility issues with certain Windows 10 apps.
Best thin and light: Samsung Galaxy Book S
If the Microsoft Surface Pro X piqued your interest, but you don’t feel like investing in a device that doesn’t come with a keyboard, then you can consider the Samsung Galaxy Book S. Much like the Surface Pro X, the Galaxy Book X is an ARM-based notebook that is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx chip.
The notebook features 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM, up to 512GB of storage, and a 13.3-inch FHD TFT touchscreen display. It’s one of the thinnest and lightest 4G capable laptops that you can get right now, and it promises a great on-the-go experience with its exceptional battery life. Unlike the Surface Pro X, it offers a more traditional laptop form factor, which means that you don’t have to spend anything extra on a keyboard.
For 4G connectivity, the Samsung Galaxy Book S also uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X24 modem, which supports up to 2Gbps download and up to 316Mbps upload speeds. The laptop supports both physical SIM cards and eSIMs, and it can be pre-configured with a connection from Verizon and Sprint. Sadly, it faces the same issues as the Surface Pro X on the software front and it isn’t suitable for power users.
That wraps up our list of the best 4G laptops that you can buy right now. As I’ve mentioned already, the Lenovo X1 Carbon Gen 8 is my top pick because my work involves a lot of typing and it features the best keyboard out of the lot. And it’s not just the keyboard that makes the X1 Carbon a great pick, which is why it has also secured a spot on our list of the best laptops you can buy in 2021. But if I had to pick a different option, I’d probably go with the Microsoft Surface Pro X simply because it’s the future of always-connected Windows laptops.
While we’re on the topic of the future, you can also consider getting a 5G-capable laptop, like the Dell Latitude 9510, the Lenovo Flex 5G, or the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 5G, and future proof your purchase. Alternatively, if you already have a perfectly good laptop lying around and you don’t wish to spend thousands just to get LTE connectivity, you can get this portable LTE hotspot instead. While it isn’t the most convenient solution, it gets you 4G connectivity on your laptop for cheap. Also, make sure you check out our list of the best Chromebooks you can buy in 2021 as it includes a couple of 4G-capable Chromebooks that may be more suited to your needs.