Netgear Nighthawk 5G mobile hotspot (MR5000) review – what is the WiFi range?

Netgear Nighthawk 5G mobile hotspot (MR5000) review
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The device is simple to set-up, has fast LTE connectivity, numerous ports and can connect to up to 35 devices.  If you need ultra fast broadband speed on the move, know you can get excellent 5G coverage and price is not an issue, then by all means, purchase it. The Netgear Nighthawk 5G mobile hotspot (MR5000) is expensive but it is also the best 5G hotspot money can buy right now. You will need to do your homework first though; check 5G coverage in the area(s) where the hotspot will be deployed. Discover details in Netgear Nighthawk 5G mobile hotspot (MR5000) review.

Pros & Cons

FOR

  • Simple to operate
  • Fastest mobile hotspot on the market
  • Very well built
  • Three ways of connecting

AGAINST

  • Very expensive
  • No support for multiple SIM
  • No support for onboard storage.
  • No LAN cable bundled
  • Rather large power adaptor

Specs – Netgear Nighthawk 5G mobile hotspot (MR5000)

Wi-Fi 6 technology1
Touch screen
Connect up to 32 Wi-Fi devices
Fast charging capable battery
Manual and tutorial
Size (inches): 4.14 x 4.14 x 0.85
Weight (ounces): 8.64
Display size (inches): 2.4
Resolution (pixels): 320 x 240
Battery capacity: 5,040mAh (removable)
Use time (hours): Up to 8
Standby time (days): Up to 11.3
Time to charge to 50%: Up to 150 minutes
Time to charge to 100%: Up to 300 minutes
Chipset: Snapdragon X55 5G modem-RF system
Cores: 1 at 1.5Ghz
Internal memory storage: 1GB
5G: Yes
4G LTE: Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 14, 17, 29, 30, 46, 66
3G – UMTS 850/900/1900/2100
Mobile hotspot: Up to 32 devices

Device Eco-rating
The AT&T Eco-Rating 2.0 system gives you environmental and social details about this device. The system uses a total of 20 performance criteria across 5 different attributes, for a total rating of 1 to 5 stars: 19-20 (5-star), 16-18 (4-star), 13-15 (3-star), 10-12 (2-star), 8-9 (1-star)
Substance of Concern: 1/4
Environmentally preferable materials: 0/3
Energy efficiency and charging: 1/1
End of life and recycling: 2/2
Environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing: 10/10
Total Eco-score: 14/20 (3-stars)

Subscription

Hotspot plans start at 15GB of data for $60 per month or 35GB of data $85 per month (you can save $10 per month if you sign up for automatic payments and paperless billing). There is, however, an overage fee of $10 for each additional 2GB of data if you go over your chosen allotment, making the hotspot a less compelling option as a home internet replacement. 

AT&T’s hotspot plans are less expensive than Verizon’s, and more expensive than Sprint’s or T-Mobile’s. Its best deal is a $95 unlimited plan that deprioritizes you after 22GB. There’s also a $50, 5GB prepaid plan where each additional GB costs $10, or a $75, 8GB prepaid plan where each additional GB costs $5. Verizon’s best deals are all for limited bucket rather than unlimited plans: 10GB for $80, 14GB for $100, or 20GB for $120, for example. Sprint’s 23GB unlimited plan costs $70, but also throttles video to standard definition at all times. T-Mobile charges $75 for 50GB if you also have another line of service, but it also throttles video, and T-Mobile’s Alcatel Linkzone hotspot hardware isn’t very good.

What is good in Netgear Nighthawk 5G mobile hotspot (MR5000)?

You can blacklist or whitelist devices and sites, and flag some devices as able to avoid your site blacklist. You can block the entire internet on a time schedule. You can do port forwarding or filtering, UPnP, DLNA, or a DMZ. You can set up separate 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks, and a guest network.

You can use the microSD card slot under the cover or a USB stick to turn the hotspot into a media server. The My Media function shares media files to either PCs through the hotspot’s web interface, or phones with Netgear’s mobile app. You can play the media on phones, and also download it on PCs. Unlike other hotspots I’ve seen with this function, it isn’t slow.

The router supports dual-band 802.11ac. It can use AT&T’s LTE network as backhaul, an Ethernet connection, or another Wi-Fi network, although if you’re using it as a Wi-Fi extender, it’s single-band only. Wi-Fi range is excellent; at 5GHz, I didn’t see much degradation at 100 feet.

Netgear Nighthawk 5G mobile hotspot (MR5000) review

Build & stylish design

We liked the build quality of our review unit too. The bottom of the router has a grippy finish so it should not slide about on a table. Likewise, the router looks expensive despite being made from plastic. The Nighthawk M1 measures 105.5 x 105.5 x 20.35 mm (~4.15 x 4.15 x 0.8 in), which is compact enough to fit in a bag without taking up too much space, although it is too bulky to fit in most pockets. The router also weights 240 g (~8.5 oz), which is rather light.

Display

The router has a round LCD display too, which you can configure with a corresponding app. The screen displays important information such as the volume of data that has been consumed, the number of connected devices and signal levels. Helpfully, the router can display the password for its Wi-Fi network on its screen too. NETGEAR flanks the display with two status bars that display the battery level of the router and how much data it has used.

Ports

NETGEAR has equipped the Nighthawk M1 with USB Type-A and Type-C ports, the latter of which charges the router. Both ports can be used for connecting media servers or NAS drives though. The router also supports microSD cards and can read FAT16, FAT32, NTFS, HFS and HFS+ file systems. Moreover, the Nighthawk M1 can be used as a base station for Arlo surveillance cameras.

The Fast Ethernet mode only operates at up to 100 MBit/s, unfortunately, while PoE is unsupported. NETGEAR hides two TS-9 connectors under two flaps, to which you can connect external antennas. These must be purchased separately though.

Hardware

The Nighthawk’s Qualcomm X16 modem is the best in the business right now. It’s certified for gigabit performance on AT&T’s network, which AT&T calls “5G Evolution.” (It isn’t 5G, that’s just marketing.) Gigabit LTE combines up to four different channels of spectrum, with 4×4 MIMO antennas on two of them and 256 QAM encoding on all of them.

The X16 is one generation newer than the X12 modem, which is in the AT&T Unite Explore as well as Verizon’s Jetpack AC791L and 7730L. The newer modem moves from three-channel to four-channel aggregation, and increases the 4×4 MIMO flexibility from one frequency band to two.

Battery life – can you watch Netflix?

The Nighthawk M1 has a 19.78 Wh lithium-ion battery (3.85 V/5,040 mAh/W-10a). NETGEAR sells replacement batteries for less than €20 (~$23), which is a fair price. You can switch between batteries on the move, which makes the Nighthawk M1 even more versatile.

Battery life depends heavily on how many devices you have connected. The Nighthawk M1 can last for two weeks on standby with no devices connected to it. However, our test router only had around 30% charge left after 16 hours of a tablet and a smartphone being permanently connected to it. We also disabled automatic updates to limit background data usage and improve battery life.

Streaming Netflix in high quality for 100 minutes also resulted in a 10% drop in battery life, which equates to around 16:30 hours. We did not experience any signal dropouts during this test though.

Setup

Activating the Nighthawk M1 is relatively simple. Theoretically, you could insert a micro SIM card and switch on the router, but we would recommend configuring the router first. You can do this with the NETGEAR Mobile app, which you can download on Android and iOS.

NETGEAR has laid the app out clearly and has provided numerous network details along with configuration options. The company allows the M1 t to be used as an Arlo base station too or with NAS drives, as we mentioned earlier. Likewise, the app contains settings for Offloading, which we shall cover in the Connectivity section of this review.

Netgear Nighthawk 5G mobile hotspot (MR5000) Performance review

The Nighthawk M5 is the first (and only) mobile router to feature Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon X55 mobile platform. In a nutshell, it supports (as per the marketing literature) 5G NR Sub 6 GHz (NSA), LTE CAT 22, LTE Advanced, 4×4 MIMO, 256QAM plus all the latest 802.11ax technology (AKA WiFi 6).

We tested the device using an unlimited 5G data SIM from Three. As always, your mileage will vary and results may not apply to you given the large amount of variables involved – including the number of devices you connect to it (up to 32).

Using the popular – and usually reliable – Fast.com speed testing website, we achieved speeds of up to 570Mbps using the Blackview BL6000 Pro which uses a Mediatek Dimensity 800 chipset – as a baseline. The slowest of the 20 or so quickfire readings we took – sitting next to a window, on the first floor of our dwelling – was 240Mbps.

Netgear Nighthawk 5G mobile hotspot (MR5000) customer review

NETGEAR – Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot – Black

We wanted to upgrade our 4g LTE HOTSPOT, although 5g is still rolling out in 2021, when we travel, we need high speed broadband to upload project files, images, videos. We chose single line plan, $75 40gb, which is sufficient for our needs. We travel each month for about two to three weeks. Once plan is absorbed, you will be throttled. We choose hotels that do have high speed TV, and utilize their cable to our nighthawk, to save data. Option if your get your hands on a 5g nighthawk.UNLOCKED, you will have the option to any carrier. Hotspots are the new travel accessory for vlogging, video upload, live feeds. Greate for family connections on the go. Will set you back some if your purchase outright ( we did it for the AT&T hotspot plan ) in areas, with no open 5g map, you still get a decent 4g LTE coverage.

By Megaboom3 at Best Buy

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