So, you have a hankering for some Chromebook LTE action- getting your device online without relying on the local WiFi.
Is this even possible? Is it expensive? Can my Chromebook even connect to LTE?
The answers are:
Yes. Yes. Maybe.
While LTE technology is supported, it’s far and few in between. I can count the number of Chromebooks that can do this with both hands.
It’s also relatively expensive compared to “LTE-less” models, but you can find good deals. Especially if you buy it secondhand.
Lastly, if you’re reading this and you already bought a Chromebook because it’s advertised to have LTE support, we’ll cover how to connect it to your data plan as well!
Let’s dive in and learn all about this technology that we all already use, but in a new way.
Simply put, LTE is Long-Term Evolution.
We’re not going to get technical here, but in layman’s terms, it’s the technology that allows for your phone to connect to your providers cellular network and offers those blazing speeds.
It’s an encompassing technology that’s become the standard for wireless broadband communication and offers increased speed over previous gens.
(If you’re interested in this technology, you can read about it here on good old Wikipedia.)
In our case, we just want to get our Chromebook to connect to it so we can get online wherever we want- with or without WiFi.
For those that use Chromebooks for work in the field where WiFi is spotty or non-existent, connecting to a cellular tower gives you access to the Internet in the middle of nowhere
Okay, so does my Chromebook have LTE?
There are just a handful of Chromebook models that have LTE capabilities.
We’re not talking about Samsung’s LTE stylus pen, but rather, LTE as in the one that makes your phone work.
The ability to connect to a provider’s data plan so you can get online without WiFi.
It’s just like a cell phone plan for your Chromebook! Not all models have LTE. There are very few models out there on the market actually.
Of course, as with any LTE plan, you’ll have to pay for the data at whatever monthly charge you signed up for.
Is there a Chromebook with a cellular data plan?
Yes, there is just a handful of them. You need to buy a data plan from T-Mobile or Verizon, as those two are the supported networks in the United States.
Once you have an active, compatible plan, you activate it on your Chromebook. We’ll cover this in detail in the steps later in this guide.
Can a Chromebook use a hotspot?
Yes, Chromebooks can get online using your phone’s tethering (hotspot) ability.
It works across all Chromebooks to my knowledge and doesn’t require anything fancy like a WiFi dongle.
All you need is a phone that has the hotspot functionality for it to work. We’ll cover that in a later section as well.
It doesn’t matter if you’re rolling with an iPhone or Android device, they both work just fine.
Or if you’re using something less mainstream like Motorola, Nokia, or BlackBerry, they should work just fine as well.
Can you connect your phone to a Chromebook?
Yes, you can. You can connect it and then use your phone as a WiFi hotspot so you can get online on your Chromebook, also known as tethering. It’s easy to do:
- Turn on the WiFi hotspot on your phone
- Click on your account picture on your Chromebook
- Click on “WiFi”
- Find your smartphone’s network name
- Click on it, type in the password
Note that depending on the phone you have, the process to set up a WiFi hotspot will vary. But this info is easily found online.
Just search “how to enable wifi hotspot on ” or something like that. WiFi will use your phone’s data plan and may incur charges.
You can’t use WiFi to “fund” your phone’s data plant for tethering, or else why wouldn’t you connect to the WiFi in the first place? There’s no such thing as “free” data.
If you have an Android phone, you can use even send text messages with it.
Are there Chromebooks with SIM card slots?
There are just a few Chromebooks that have SIM card slots. Even when 5G hit the scenes in 2020 thru 2021, the number of production models that are capable of 4/5G through a SIM card for LTE access hasn’t changed.
The most recent model is the Samsung Chromebook Plus (released in February 2017), which lets you pop your SIM card into your laptop to get online.
You can get online with your cellular company’s data subscription tied to the SIM, tethering with your phone, or traditional WiFi.
This lets you access the Internet in more than one way. If you’re out in an area with no WiFi access points, you can enable instant tethering to switch to your phone as a hotspot or use the SIM card.
Then when you move back to your home base, the Chromebook will automatically switch back to WiFi to save you data.
Connecting to a data plan
You can connect to your phone’s data network or use your Chromebook’s data plan if you’re enrolled in one. This allows you to use both WiFi and mobile data so you’re always connected when in coverage.
To enable this, do the following:
- Sign in to your Chromebook (you must be using the primary account owner)
- Launch Chrome
- Type in “chrome://settings” in the URL bar, hit Enter
- Look for “Network” or search for it in the search field
- Look for “Mobile data” and enable it
- If you don’t see the option to enable mobile data, your Chromebook doesn’t support it.
- Click on your account picture at the bottom right
- Click on Network and find your mobile provider (Verizon or T-Mobile)
- Click on “Activate” to enable your data plan
- Sign in to your mobile provider account, choose the data plan, price, etc.
- Click on “Activate service”
- Give your Chromebook a few minutes to connect to the mobile network
- Avoid doing anything else during this time because it can disrupt the connection. Generally, it takes up to 5 minutes.
- If your Chromebook isn’t connecting, give the provider a call
You’ll see a “service activated” page when it’s done. You can now use your Chromebook!
Connecting to your SIM card (mobile network)
Here’s how to set up your Chromebook to pull data from a SIM card (i.e. use your mobile network). Note that these steps only apply to Chromebooks in the United States.
If you’re in the EU or another country, the steps will vary. T-Mobile and Verizon are the only two providers that offer data plans compatible with Chromebooks to my knowledge that work 100%. If you know of other providers, leave a comment and I’ll add them to the list.
So here are the steps to link your LTE data plan to Chrome OS:
- Sign in to your Chromebook
- Launch Chrome
- Type in “chrome://settings” and hit Enter
- Search or find the section labeled “Network” in the settings menu
- Enable “Mobile data”
- Exit the settings menu
- Open a new tab
- Press “CTRL + ALT + T” to launch the command line
- Enter your SIM card carrier (T-Mobile, Verizon, etc.) by using this code (without the quotes):
- “modem_set_carrier typeyourcarrierhere“
- For example, if you’re on Verizon, you’d type in
- “modem_set_carrier Verizon”
- This will make “Verizon” show up in your list of networks to choose from later on when you’re connecting to a mobile network through Chrome OS
- Hit Enter
- Type “exit”
- Hit Enter again
- Power down your Chromebook (NOT sleep or hibernate, power it down completely using the menu)
- Put your SIM card into the SIM card slot
- Power on your Chromebook, sign in to your account
- Click on your account picture at the bottom-right
- Check the list of connections for the network, find your SIM card network
- Select it and connect
You’re now connected to your phone’s network. Data charges will apply just as if you’re using your phone.
If you’re stuck, here’s Google’s help page for reference.
What if I’m traveling?
If you’re traveling and you want to use your phone’s mobile network, you’ll enable roaming on your Chromebook to do so. Just like roaming with your phone, a charge may be incurred.
To enable roaming on your Chromebook:
- Launch Chrome
- Click on your account picture
- Go to Settings
- Search for “network” in the search field or find it
- Look for “Mobile data”
- Enable “Allow mobile data roaming”
Honestly though, if you can tether with your phone, there’s no need for a Chromebook with a modem.
You can just get an unlimited data plan with 4G support (or 5G in certain regions) and use it anywhere you want- including internationally. This way, you don’t limit yourself to JUST LTE Chromebooks. There are ways to get around this limitation.
If you already have a smartphone with a data plan, you don’t need two plans. Just stick with one and upgrade it if you need to. Some plans are extremely cheap and provide excellent LTE connections for your Chromebook. Why buy two plans?
Only the oldest Chromebook have built-in modems and they’re pretty hard to find. Tethering is the easiest solution and works with pretty much all modern-day Chromebooks, or laptops in general.
Of course, there are drawbacks like your phone’s battery draining or your lose your phone. Some plans also charge extra for tethering. But both of those can be remedied. Battery pack and upgrade your plan. Done.
Can I use my Chromebook without WiFi?
You can use your Chromebook even if you don’t have an active WiFi connection.
There are multiple ways to do so.
Here are three possibilities:
- Get a portable WiFi device (see on Amazon). These are devices that “give” you the Internet (you just won the internet!) as you roam around. They’re usually limited to specific areas like airports, train stations, or other places that have frequent travelers that don’t have easy WiFi access. You pay a flat rate or per MB/GB as you use it.
- Use your phone’s WiFi hotspot. This will let you connect to your phone as a WiFi network and you can get online anywhere that your phone has an LTE connection.
- Use satellite internet. Internet that works pretty much anywhere in the world? It exists. But it’s expensive.
List of Chromebooks with LTE
Here’s a complete list of models that are capable of LTE connections.
This list covers all Chromebooks up to 2021. When new models are released, this list will be updated.
If you find a missing model, please leave a comment and let me know so I can add it to the list (with credits to you, of course).
Samsung Chromebook Plus (LTE support)
This is original Samsung Chromebook that raised the bar in terms of everything. Performance, feature set, and LTE support. The Samsung Plus was released back in 2017 and even today no other Chromebook comes close to it IMO.
It’s considered the “oldest” model, but it’s the most powerful by far.
It’s a convertible Chromebook with touchscreen/stylus support featuring a 12.2″ HD display, 4GB RAM, and 32GB eMMC with a stylish, “stealth” silver finish.
If you don’t have WiFi, the Plus allows you to connect to your Google Drive, Play Store apps, Chrome, email, chat, social media, or video calls without a problem. The screen is amazing clocking with a 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution. It’s higher than standard HD by 20 pixels horizontally. But on a 12.2 display, it looks as sharp as ever.
The pen is perfect for precision work, taking notes, or drawing. It doesn’t need any charging. Pair that with USB-C and USB-A and you have modern connectivity.
You can fold it between tablet or laptop mode to accompany your workflow. There’s also a tent mode for viewing videos, calls, etc. I never use this personally, but it can be handy for lying back and enjoying it whiteout having to hold it up. It’s like a built-in kickstand.
The Plus also has dual cameras, with a 13MP world-facing camera. That’s a super high resolution for a Chromebook. If picture quality matters, this won’t disappoint.
If you’re looking for absolute jack of all trades, this is it. It does pretty much everything you could want, but at the cost of a high premium. At 3 pounds, you can easily take it with you to school, travel, business, etc.
Acer Chromebook 314 (LTE support)
The Acer Chromebook features a large 14″ display with a narrow bezel touchscreen construction. It’s one of the larger screen Chromebooks with LTE, but if you don’t want to tether, you really can’t complain in this market.
Powered by an Intel CPU (Celeron N4000), 4GB or 8GB LPDDR4 RAM, upgradeable 64GB eMMC storage, and up to 1920 x 1080 display, you can choose between 3 different models on the market.
It’s also MIL-STD 810G certified for drop resistance, which makes it nice to carry around for those that travel for business, pleasure, or are always on-the-go. The corner bumpers also absorb some shlock to protect the internal components from going boom. The keyboard is also spill-resistant.
You can connect to local WiFi with the standard 802.11ac 2×2 setup, or through the wireless built-in 4G LTE modem.
HP Elite c1030 (LTE support)
The HP Elite Chromebook is built with enterprise features, including a modem for LTE. This Chromebook will cost you a pretty penny.
There are currently models selling at over $1,000, which makes it one of the most expensive Chromebooks of all time- right up there with the Google Pixelbook.
Note that the Google Pixelbook GO surprisingly is NOT LTE supported. Don’t get fooled by the name!
The c1030 is powered by an 11th generation Intel Core i3 CPU, making it one of the few handful of models that have an Intel Core CPU. It also has 8GB of RAM, which is two times the standard amount. The NVMe SSD features a whopping 128GB of storage space- why would you even need the cloud?
The keyboard is spill-resistant, backlit, and comes in a snazzy flint silver finish. It has a basic 720p HD webcam, which is pretty sad considering everything else is so high-end. The
Lastly, you get the 4G modem built in. This is top-of-the-line performance specs AND you get the LTE radio. For those who want more power, there’s an upgraded CPU (Intel Core i5), which nearly increase the price by 60%!
The display is a 13.5″ FHD 1920 x 1080 screen with IPS technology and touchscreen support. The display can be upgraded to a 1000 nit SureView Reflect Privacy screen. Crazy.
Thankfully, the WWAN HP mobile broadband is included in all models, even the base one. For WiFi, it’s equipped with WiFi 6 (2×2) and Bluetooth 5. With a 50 WHr battery, this thing will stay awake longer than you will.
The top-end model is an Intel i7010610U CPU, 16GB RAM, and 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD which will bring your total to just over $2,000. For a Chromebook! That’s enough for a high-end gaming PC, MacBook Pro, or even a summer car!
The HP Elite c1030 Chromebook is a beast of machine. And I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone except those that absolutely NEED a built-in 4G radio with the best tech specs possible.
There’s no more powerful Chromebook with a modem than this.
Chromebook Pixel (LTE support)
The lengendary Chromebook Pixel features a 4G LTE connection. This model was released way back in 2013 and was the “MacBook of Chromebooks” when it came out. Even now, the specs on this machine are crazy.
Powered by an Intel Core i5 CPU, 4GB RAM, Intel HD Graphics 4000. The display is a high-res 2560 x 1700 pixel 12.85″ screen. The 64GB SSD is crazy also.
The best part about this hard-to-find collector’s item is the aluminum frame. It’s vintage now and extremely expensive, but it’s worth a mention in this guide.
Dell Chromebook 3100 EE (LTE support)
The 3100 education edition Chromebook by Dell includes the built-in modem. It’s the newest of the bunch and a modern-day, LTE supported Chromebook.
The Dell features some basic entry-level tech specs, but it’s made to be affordable for their education line of products.
The display clocks in at 1366 x 768 pixels on a 11.6″ HD screen. It’s powered by an Intel Celeron N4020, 4GB of RAM, and 16GB eMMC with an optional upgrade to 32GB.
A 14 hour battery powers it all day with super durable build material. It’s MIL-STD standard- rated for up to 5,000 free fall micro-drops, even onto steel at 30 inch heights.
The edges are rubberized to minimize bumps and the keyboard is spill-proof. The ports are protected with brackets so they don’t wear down as quickly as standard USB ports.
Of course, being that it’s built for students, the bezels are huge. That’s just something to get used to. As a professional, you can use this to your benefit if you travel a lot and need a beater Chromebook. No more worry about bumps and drops ruining your presentation.
List of Chromebooks with SIM card slots
If you want to insert a SIM card, check these out:
Dell Chromebook 11 3120 (SIM card support)
This Dell is cheap and has a SIM card slot so you can pop one in and go.
If the SIM card is tied to a data plan, it’ll utilize it to power the Chromebook.
If you’re looking for a Chromebook with a SIM card slot, the Dell 11 3120 is affordable and can get online without relying only on WiFi as its sole data source.
You can find this model on eBay or Craigslist sometimes for cheap.
Of course, buying it used is the way to go if you want to keep it affordable. If you own this particular model, you could sell it used for some nice cash.
The secondhand market for hard-to-find Chromebooks is in demand. Note that there are multiple variants of the Dell 11 3120, so make sure you look at the model number before you buy. For SIM card support, there really aren’t too many.
ASUS Chromebook C300
The ASUS C300 comes with a micro SIM card slot, which is bingo. You can buy SIM card converters to convert from “regular” to normal or nano, so the size doesn’t matter in this case.
The C300 Chromebook is powered by an Intel Bay Trail Dual Core CPU N2830, with an optional upgrade to a Quad Core Celeron N2930. The base variant has a 16GB SSD, while the upgraded model has a 32GB. Both models have 4GB DDR3L MHz SDRAM.
It has a basic 13.3″ display with a 1366 x 768 pixel resolution. Connectivity comes with a combo audio jack, 1 USB 3.0 port, 1 USB 2.0 port, 1 HDMI, 1 SD card slot, 1 micro SIM card slot.
HP Chromebook 14 F0H09UA (SIM card support)
This particular model is dated by now, and the support for Chrome OS updates has ended. However, if you’re able to pick it up used, you can utilize the SD card it’s equipped with.
Since it was released back in 2014 (when I last checked), you can expect a dated spec sheet as well. The HP F0H09UA comes with a 1.4GHz Intel Celeron 2955U CPU, 4GB RAM, and 32GB SSD. The WWAN modem radio is a HP cr3124 HPSA+ Mobile Broadband Module.
The display is a 14″ LED 1366 x 768 pixel screen. There are basic external ports, such as 1 HDMI, 1 audio jack, 2 USB 3.0 ports, 1 USB 2.0 ports, and an SD card reader for SD cards.
When it first released, it came with a free SIM card from T-Mobile. But you can use any card from other providers, like Verizon, Cricket, FreedomPop, Straight Talk, AT&T, etc. to my knowledge.
The HP came with a card that allowed for 200MB of free T-Mobile data per month, which was awesome- as you can see in the featured video for this section of the guide.
However, that’s very hardy to find nowadays. So you’ll have to use your own SIM card, but at least it has the ability to insert one, right?
So which is the “best” LTE Chromebook?
This comes down to personal preference.
The list of complete models isn’t that big, so it’s easy to choose since your choices are so narrow. That’s a good thing IMO.
However, if the need for LTE is 100% necessary and you can do without it, you open yourself up to a TON more options.
Perhaps just tethering to your phone is enough? What if you could trade LTE ability for a bigger, crisper display? Or touchscreen support?
Consider the following to help you make the best purchase decision.
Will you be traveling a lot (which is why you need an LTE connection)?
Then perhaps a lighter Chromebook with a smaller footprint works well rather than a giant one that you need to lug around.
Also, consider weighing a larger screen with more real estate for productivity vs. a tiny screen.
It all comes down to what you need to do.
- Video calls and conferences?
- Presentations and sales pitches?
- Digital creative work?
- Or does touchscreen support make your fingers tingle?
- Don’t forget the battery life
Do you need a big screen?
Depending on your line of work, you may or may not benefit from having more real estate on the display.
If you’re a multitasker and have multiple apps running at the same time, it can benefit you to use Chrome OS’ built-in split-screen function.
Additionally, having a bigger display helps for spreadsheets, documents, research, etc.
It can reduce strain on your eyes, reduce switching between tabs or programs, and help you get things done quicker than wasting a few seconds here and there from constantly scrolling the page.
Those seconds add up and it’s what mastering productivity is all bout.
See this list of Chromebooks with the biggest screens.
Do you need a high-performance screen?
Screen size aside, some models pack more pixels into their screen (know as pixel density) which makes it look crisp and clear.
Having a higher resolution allows for those stunning graphics when viewing video, images, or even reading text.
Check out some of the Chromebooks with the highest resolution displays.
Or do you just need raw processing power?
If all you’re doing is slideshow presentations, typing documents, or editing PDFs, screen size, and resolution don’t matter as much.
But the speed of the Chromebook does. It’ll launch your saved files quickly, let you multitask between different programs, apps, documents, Excel files, emails, tabs, research projects, PDFs, without having to constantly close them because your Chromebook starts to slow down.
Getting a Chromebook with a good amount of RAM and a high clock speed CPU will keep up to your pace.
See a list of the most powerful Chromebooks.
Bonus: Chrome extensions
In addition to just having the right Chromebook for your needs, you may also benefit from Chrome extensions which can greatly enhance your workflow:
- Tips and tricks to increase productivity
- Best apps for students
- Best apps for writers
- Video conferencing
- Staying productive with no WiFi
- View, edit, and sign PDFs
If you’re on the go, look for a cell phone data plan that includes tethering.
This will make it more affordable if you plan on using it to power your Chromebook often, rather than constantly draining the data cap “unlimited” plans commonly hide.
Your phone service provider should offer some kind of tethering plan for those that use it extensively.
Following that, some Chromebooks have an “instant tethering” feature, which automatically connects your Chromebook to your cell phone as a hotspot when it gets out of WiFi range.
It works really well and can offer you a seamless experience.
The Samsung Chromebook Plus has this ability off the top of my head. Lenovo’s Flex 5G also will offer instant tethering with 5G support.
Of course, 5G Chromebooks will be expensive given that it’s the latest gear, but if you’re working in the field and don’t always have WiFi, it can work for you.
Otherwise, the current and prevent 4G Chromebooks will do the trick. For any casual user, 4G should be enough for basic usage scenarios. Current LTE Chromebooks support 4G just fine.
LTE Chromebooks are sparse
Given that Chromebooks are made to be cheap and affordable, LTE technology isn’t commonplace.
There are only a handful of Chromebooks on the market that are capable of using a data plan, but at least they exist?
As the world becomes more mobile, perhaps having a data connection to your phone company’s cellular network will become the norm in the future.
If you have any questions about these particular models, feel free to drop a comment and ask away. Or if you found this guide somewhat helpful and got some value out of it, please let me know as well!