Review: Karma Go by Karma (Mobile Hotspot / Cellular Data Plan)

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UPDATE (December 2017) - Karma Black Coming:

The new Karma Black hotspot claims to help hide your activity online. In the future Karma may even offer even more security features.

Karma is (surprisingly) still alive and kicking, and is back with a new Karma Black hotspot with a few interesting twists:

"Karma Black is a Personal Security Appliance (PSA) that will encrypt and anonymize your online activity, protecting your identity from invasive tracking, unknown surveillance and sale of your private internet habits."

In other words - it is a basic Karma Go hotspot painted black with a built in VPN service, and you can actually use it both over Karma's Sprint-powered cellular network or bridged through any public Wi-Fi network.

The Karma Black is slated to ship mid-January 2018, and costs $149 during the pre-order sale and $249 after shipping starts.

It also requires a $19/mo security services fee on top of whatever Karma cellular data plan you choose.

Karma's current data offerings are the $3/mo "Drift" plan where data is billed as you need it at $10/GB, or the monthly subscription "Pulse" plan which ranges from 5GB/mo for $60 to 10GB/mo for $100.

Read more about Karma Black on the Karma blog.

Would You Bet On Black?

Overall Karma still has not recovered from its disastrous 2016, and many former customers claim to still be waiting on promised refunds. Karma has done little in the year since to improve its very tarnished reputation.

The Karma Black itself seems likely to continue Karma's history of over-promising, already teasing about future features:

"Possible upcoming features include Tor services, virus protection, malware filters, parental controls and ad blocking."

Our advice - don't buy into the Karma Black pre-order, and wait for Karma and the Karma Black to earn your trust.

Original review follows:


The small Karma Go hotspot lacked basics like a removable battery or antenna ports . But more concerning has been the lack of refunds for dissatisfied customers.

The small Karma Go hotspot lacks basics like a removable battery or antenna ports . But far more concerning has been the lack of refunds for dissatisfied customers as Karma has struggled to stay in business.

Purchasing a proprietary Karma Go hotspot is required to be able to sign up for the unique Sprint-powered MVNO Karma.

Karma made headlines late in 2015 when it announced an unlimited data plan called 'Neverstop' for $50/month. Though speeds were capped at a modest 5Mbps, this plan generated a huge amount of interest from those desperate for a truly unlimited cellular data plan - and Karma sold a lot of hotspots.

It only took Karma a few weeks to discover that the usage demands of the Neverstop plan were higher than it could deliver, and in February 2016 Karma canceled the Neverstop plan entirely and introduced the Pulse plan instead.

Karma's original pay-as-you-go Refuel plan with non-expiring data was discontinued in late 2016 as well.

Get the Book

In late 2017, Karma changed it's plans again, with prices ranging from $50 for 5GB of data, to $150 for 20GB of data.  The purchased data lasts for three months before it expires.

 

Many of the customers who signed up for Neverstop sent their Karma Go's back for an "unconditional" refund. Unfortunately, even by the end of 2016 many of those refunds reportedly still have not been fulfilled, generating a whole lot of bad karma for Karma online.

The Karma Go however is still available - just know what you are getting into before purchasing it.

Specifications

  • Battery Life: 6hrs (non-removable)
  • # of Connected Devices: 8 - Wi-Fi Only, No USB Tethering
  • Cellular Networks Supported:
    LTE Bands: 25, 26, 41 (Sprint)
  • LTE-Advanced Carrier Aggregation: No?
  • Cellular Antenna Ports: None
  • Wi-Fi Technology / Frequencies: 802.11 b/g/n - 2.4GHz
  • Dimensions: 2.9" x 2.9" x .47"
  • SIM Card Type: 2FF / Mini SIM
  • Retail Price:  $199 (Frequently on sale for less)

Testing Status: We purchased a Karma Go when the very promising "Neverstop" plan was announced in November 2015, and we have used it sporadically since.

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WARNING: Before buying a Karma, be sure to read our article "Is Karma Kaput?" and make sure that you are comfortable with the company's current long-term prospects.

Karma Go Rating
  • Overall

Quick Take

Karma's promising Go hotspot has brought nothing but trouble to customers who have felt abandoned by the struggling firm.

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