Looking for a first hand Skyroam Solis review? We’ve used our Skyroam Solis for over four months now, and share our thoughts: the good, the bad and the orange.
What is Skyroam Solis?
The Skyroam Solis is a portable WiFi hotspot. It works in over 130 countries, using the same technology that cell phone carriers use to get you data.
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The Solis lets connect up to five devices over WiFi at the same time. It has a built in battery that can also charge your devices on the go.
Best of all, it’s easy to use. Even the most gadget-adverse traveler should have no trouble getting it up and running in minutes.
Why portable WiFi?
Getting reliable WiFi wherever we go is a huge hassle. Hotel WiFi isn’t always stable, and scrounging free WiFi from a local McDonald’s gets old pretty quickly.
Other options are buying a local sim card, or using our home cell roaming plan, but they both have major downsides.
We’ve bought local sim cards for our unlocked phones, but we tend to hit data limits quickly, and sharing our cell data with our laptops and the rest of the family can be a huge pain. Plus, it’s often a hassle to figure out which plan and provider to choose overseas. Even then, a lot of countries don’t legally allow visitors to purchase a local sim and, though there are ways around this, researching them is a huge hassle.
We’ve also thought about using a worldwide roaming plan with our home cell company while we travel, but honestly, roaming charges can be huge and the data caps are often ridiculously low on roaming plans. We usually don’t need data every day we’re gone, but most roaming plans charge you every day you turn your phone on.
We were looking for a WiFi solution that was affordable for the four of us, and that worked almost anywhere in the world.
Enter the Skyroam Solis. It’s a 4G LTE mobile WiFi gadget that automatically works off local cell towers, with no SIM needed. Up to five devices can share WiFi on one Skyroam Solis, making it a great choice for our family of four.
Skyroam Solis Review
First impressions of the Skyroam Solis
Honestly, our first impression was that the Skyroam Solis is a pretty stylish unit. The bright orange case definitely stands out, and it fits easily in the palm of my hand, or my jacket pocket. Now, the orange look may not be your thing, but it definitely has the advantage that it’s hard to misplace, and is easy to find in the bottom of a backpack.
The included zipper case and charging cable helps keep everything together and also helps protect that awesome orange color from getting scratched up as it gets tossed around in our backpack.
How fast is Skyroam Solis?
For us, the most important thing about a portable WiFi solution is speed and reliability. Sure, the Skyroam works in over 130 countries, but that’s no good if it’s slow.
Happily, we were consistently getting speeds of around 31-32 Mbps on our first tests in Canada and at multiple times throughout our extended road trip.
A speed of around 30 Mbps is plenty fast to run email, watch Netflix or Youtube in HD, interact with social media (including watching Instagram or Facebook videos) and browsing the net.
Even with all four of us connected, with me on email, the kids streaming YouTube videos, and hubby Charles playing video games, the speed was instantaneous, with no seeming lag for anyone.
We tested the Solis throughout Canada and the USA, where cellular data speeds can often be lower than Europe and elsewhere in the world. You’ll probably get speeds in the 40 Mbps range in Europe and Asia. We’re taking our Solis down to Mexico and the southern USA this winter and we’ll report how well it works there as soon as we can!
Our lowest speed in our tests was around 4.75 Mbps, but that was when we were in the car, traveling in the middle of the Rocky Mountains without 4G service, so the only cell service the Skyroam could pick up was old school EDGE technology. Canada gets pretty remote in places, so you may find speeds like this in more remote areas, but the same could be said of any cell data plan or any other WiFi hotspot.
We’re testing our little Solis portable WiFi in the middle of the Canadian prairies in this picture. We still had a connection speed of over 30 Mbps.
How much data do you get with Skyroam?
Technically, Skyroam gives you unlimited data.
We used our little Skyroam Solis pretty extensively with the four of us, burning through at least 800 MB a day for several days in a row. We didn’t notice any throttling at all, and speeds stayed consistently fast.
Does Skyroam throttle data?
That said, the terms and conditions say they do have a fair use policy. They say here “If there is high usage (over 500MB) within 24-hours, the connection with (sic) go to a lighter 2G speed, which is great for e-mail, web surfing, social media, apps, messaging, and WiFi calling. Data always resets with the next global daypass.”
To me, that sounds like you can be throttled if you’re on a busy network, and you’re using a whole lot of data over 500MB. We’ve read other reviews that mention that they started to get throttled after the 1 GB mark, so I’m guessing that they don’t have a hard limit and it depends on which carriers they’re currently operating on.
To avoid throttling, Skyroam suggests closing any apps that consume data in the background, like auto backups, cloud syncing, app updates, and so on. We keep those for when we have free WiFi and haven’t had any problems using up a ton of data.
The good news is that Skyroam data resets every 24 hours, so even if you manage to overuse the fair use amount and got throttled, your data will reset to higher speeds at the end of the day.
How long does the Skyroam Solis battery last?
Skyroam says the built in batteries on the Skyroam Solis lasts 14 to 20 hours, and our tests found that to be pretty close.
We tested the Skyroam for the first time on a road trip in the interior of British Columbia in Canada. The battery lasted a full 14 hours for me, from the time we hit the road at 8 am, to when we went to sleep around 10 pm, with about 15% battery left.
A cool feature about the Skyroam Solis is that you can also connect your phone or device to it, and recharge your phone while on the go. The Skyroam Solis comes with a built in 6000 mAh power bank and comes with a USB-C connection to charge all the latest devices.
Note: The Skyroam Solis uses the same battery as the built in charger, so if you’re charging your phone as you go, you’re also reducing the total time the Skyroam will last.
If you find you need additional power, you can either purchase a power bank to help top up the Solis or even buy extra batteries for it, since you can open the Solis and switch out batteries anytime. That said, from our experience and unless you’re severely going off grid, the batteries in the Skyroam Solis should easily last you the day.
How much does Skyroam cost?
There are a couple of ways to use Skyroam: a daily pass, their new monthly data subscription, or the new 1 GB GoData plan. The best part is there are no contracts, and you pay only for the days or months that you use the Skyroam.
The Skyroam daily pass and monthly data subscription (in USD)
The daily pass (which lasts a full 24 hours from the moment you begin) costs $9 if you own your own Skyroam device. You can buy a Skyroam Solis for around $149.99, and that includes one free daypass. If you decide to just rent a Skyroam Solis for the length of your journey, the daily cost also starts at $9 per day.
Skyroam Solis in Canada
What I really liked about the Skyroam rental is that they only quoted me a $9.99 shipping charge to Canada. If you’re Canadian, you’ll understand why this is so huge – we usually pay a small fortune to have anything shipped into Canada. In fact, we checked out a competitor, and they were charging over $30 to ship to Canada.
If you’re in the USA or Europe, your shipping will likely be even less.
You can also get unlimited Skyroam service for $99 per 30 days.
Because we travel so much, we own our own Skyroam Solis, rather than renting. That means that we don’t need to wait for a rental to be delivered if we take off at the last minute! It also means we pay a bit less for a daily pass and even if we get stuck someplace local without internet and don’t want to use up all our cell data, we can just opt to enable the Skyroam for the day. This has been fantastic when we visit my Mom in the middle of Alberta Canada and here shaky WiFi services goes down again, and our Solis comes to the rescue with WiFi for all!
The Skyroam GoData plan
To use the Skyroam GoData monthly plan, you’ll need to own the Skyroam hotspot. Rentals aren’t available with the plan.
The GoData plan gives you 1GB of data (at 4G LTE data speed) for $9 a month. You can buy more data, on the go, at $9/GB. Plus, there’s no contract. Like the daily plan, you can connect up to five devices. Every month you get another 1 GB of data. However, any unused data you didn’t use doesn’t roll forward.
Tip! Lots of people use the Skyroam GoData plan to extend their monthly cell phone plan. Depending on where you are in the world, it can be cheaper than your home cell phone company charges for data and you can boost your amount at any time if you need more.
Since we sometimes go a month or two without traveling, we’re sticking with our the 24 hour daily passes. That said, we may switch to the GoData plan the next time we head out for an extended trip just so we’re not limited to daily time limits.
Where does the Skyroam work?
The Skyroam Solis coverage map says you can get coverage 130+ countries, including Canada, the USA, Mexico, most of Europe, and South America as well as Asia and the Middle East.
To test it, I entered the last 10 countries we’ve visited: Canada, the USA, Mexico, Belize, Ecuador, Spain, Morocco, Turkey, Anguilla, and the Dominican Republic. There’s Skyroam service everywhere but in Belize. Nine out of 10 is pretty good, I think.
How does Skyroam work?
Skyroam uses Skyroam’s patented virtual SIM technology to connect you to the nearest cell network, and will connect with over 300 carriers at 4G LTE speeds (where available).
Does Skyroam work on planes or on a cruise?
Because Skyroam works off cell networks, it won’t work where you can’t get a cell signal, like while you’re in the air on a flight, on cruise ships (unless you’re near a cell signal in port), or somewhere very remote.
How do you use Skyroam Solis?
The Skyroam Solis is honestly super easy to get up and running.
When you first get the unit, you’ll need to pull a little plastic tab to connect the battery.
Then, connect it to your cell charger via the provided USB cable to charge. Ours came pre-charged.
- To get WiFi, press and hold Power On (the side button).
- Connect your Skyroam Solis to the hotspot’s WiFi signal. You’ll need the unique SSID and password on the bottom of the Solis.
- On your phone or connected device, visit the Skyroam account portal at a.skyroam.com. You’ll have 20 free minutes to register using your email, phone # or Facebook.
- Press the WiFi button on the top of the unit to start using WiFi. Each day pass is good for 24 hours from the time you start using it.
How do I load Skyroam?
If you want to add more day passes, or see how many passes you have left, switch to a $99 30-day plan, or start a GoData subscription, go to a.skyroam.com on a connected device.
Update! Skyroam’s just introduced a new app in late 2018. The app lets you activate your Solis, load the Skyroam with more WiFi service, troubleshoot problems, get help and more. We love it because it lets us see battery life, signal strength, the number of devices connected, WiFi status and more on the status screen.
Who is Skyroam good for:
- Anyone who’s afraid of being charged outrageously high data roaming charges. Tip: Don’t forget to turn off roaming on your cell phone before leaving your home country, so you aren’t accidentally charged in case you get a phone call, text or some app decides to run in the background before hooking up to the Solis!
- Vacationers who don’t want to hassle with buying a local SIM card and data plan on every trip.
- Travelers who don’t have an unlocked phone. If you have a locked phone, you won’t be able to switch out your SIM and buy a local SIM and data plan.
- Travelers who are tired of bad hotel WiFi, and sick of searching for a nearby McDonald’s or cafe for free WiFi.
- Anyone who wants to keep in touch with friends and family anywhere in the world.
- Groups and families who want to share a WiFi connection. The Skyroam works beautifully for our family of four. We’re heavy WiFi users, and we get an especially good deal because we all can share the same Skyroam. Up to five devices can connect at any one time.
- Business travelers or digital nomads like us who need WiFi to work, since the Solis gives us WiFi wherever we are around the globe.
- Solo travelers. I really love having my Solis when I travel alone, as it gives me the ability to reach out to let friends and family to know I’m OK.
- Family day outs. We’ve used our portable WiFi units to have Pokemon Go adventures with the kids and their friends on their iPods and tablets during hikes and walks. With the slew of new enhanced VR games out there that require an internet connection to work, purchasing a daily pass is a great excuse to get the kids out of the house and walking outdoors while still allowing them game time.
- Data toppers whose cell plans have only a limited amount of data. The Skyroam GoData allows people to buy what they need, when they need it, regardless if they’re traveling or at home.
Where to buy Skyroam Solis
You can buy Skyroam Solis on the Skyroam website here.
Skyroam Solis discount
Want to get a Skyroam for yourself?
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