Netgear Nighthawk M2 – Fastest LTE Router Test

Earlier this year, Netgear introduced the Nighthawk M2, a new mobile hotspot that transforms UMTS or LTE-based Internet access into a Wi-Fi hotspot to provide wireless network for multiple devices such as smartphones, tablets or laptops. The successor of the Nighthawk M1 supports LTE Cat. 20 and in theory allows data transfer rates of up to 2 Gbit/s downstream and 150 Mbit/s upstream.

Netgear Nighthawk M2 MR2100 LCD Screen

In practice, there are hardly any 4G networks supporting such high data transfer rates. Is still worth the purchase of the mobile hotspot, which is not a bargain with a purchase? We had the opportunity to put the heavy square device to a thorough test.

Netgear Nighthawk M2 MR2100 back cover

The Netgear Nighthawk M2 mobile router comes in a convenient package. In addition to the router itself, there is the battery and a quick start guide with the power supply and connecting cable. The supplied battery has a capacity of 5040 mAh. The WLAN standards 802.11a, b and g are supported. The 4G mobile hotspot is working on 2.4 and 5 GHz. The Netgear M2 has a USB-A and USB-C as well as an Ethernet interface. There are also connection options for external antennas (Buy Netgear Nighthawk M2 External Antenna). The LAN port can be used to use a wired Internet access instead of the mobile modem and to redistribute it via WLAN.

Netgear Nighthawk M2 MR2100 interfaces

 

Good workmanship and shiny surface

The processing of the Netgear 4G mobile router is impeccable. You can argue about the shiny surface. Here you can see very clear fingerprints very quickly, especially since the Nighthawk M2 has a touch screen, so it regularly gets into the embarrassment of touching the display. The complete initial setup can also be made via the touch-sensitive screen. A separate app or the web-based access to the M2 pocket WiFi router menu is possible, but not mandatory.

Netgear Nighthawk M2 MR2100 external antenna connectors

We have set up the router right on the touchscreen made, which was not easy. For one thing, the virtual keyboard is quite small due to the display size. So you always catch the wrong letter when typing. In addition, the screen does not respond as well to inputs as used by higher quality smartphones. If the setup of a network identifier (SSID) and the associated password worked quite well, then setting a (somewhat complicated) administrator password was not possible on the second attempt, so we skipped this step and later have made on the configuration via the Netgear Mobile App.

Netgear Nighthawk M2 MR2100 side

 

After the initial setup, the Netgear Nighthawk M2 mobile hotspot was immediately ready for use. The configuration for SIM cards is made automatically. As soon as the MiFi was set up, the availability of a firmware update was already displayed. We have installed this over the existing LTE data connection. In the process, around 160 MB of data was transferred. What changes the update brings is unknown. The internet connection via the Netgear Nighthawk M2 was very stable in the test for several hours. It did not matter if we used an Apple iPhone XS Max, a Samsung Galaxy S10+ or an Apple MacBook Pro.

Netgear Nighthawk M2 MR2100 SIM card slot

 

The display of the router shows the current data consumption, the ID of the SIM card provider and the network technology used. There is also a small S-meter, which provides information about the quality of mobile reception. The battery level is also displayed. By default, you can also find the names of the Wi-Fi hotspot and the password via the touchscreen. This display can be deactivated if desired.

 

Numerous settings are possible via the touchscreen menu. First, there is a WPS function. Then the user can limit the hotspot to one of the two WLAN frequency ranges (2.4 or 5 GHz). The connected devices can be displayed and, for example, you can specify whether the hotspot is put into standby mode after a period of non-use to save battery capacity.

 

Netgear Nighthawk M2 MR2100 data used

Other features

Other possibilities are the restriction of Wi-Fi hotspots to a smaller reception area in order to save battery capacity or the automatic WLAN detach when USB tethering is used. The brightness of the display can be adjusted and the user can decide whether he wants to use the Internet access only in the home network or in international roaming.

 

SMS messages can be sent and received via the Netgear Nighthawk M2. As we have already mentioned regarding the initial setup: The touch screen does not always respond reliably to inputs and the virtual keyboard is quite small. Apart from that, the menu is functional and intuitive to use.

Netgear Nighthawk M2 MR2100 settings options

 

Good performance even in mobile operation

With a SIM card from Vodafone, we have achieved data transfer rates of up to 110 Mbps in the downstream and 61 Mbps in the upstream. This is far from the peak speeds that the Netgear Nighthawk M2 allows, but is more or less equivalent to what the mobile telecom Internet access does with the smartphone. Even in mobile mode, such as a Wi-Fi hotspot in the car, the router performed well in the test. At speed 120Mbps on the highway, the performance of Internet access was still fine. Compared to a WLAN adapter such as the Huawei E8377 CarFi, the Netgear device earns more scores by the possibility to connect an outdoor LTE antenna. In regions with bad LTE coverage, a magnetic base antenna on the car roof provides a significant improvement in reception, which also affects the performance of Internet access.

 

 

Conclusion: Good hotspot with slight weaknesses

Although Netgear Nighthawk M2 is well-made and provides stable Internet access for up to 20 devices, flaws such as the only moderately good touchscreen provides bad experience for users. For almost half of the purchase price, the Netgear Nighthawk M1 is available, which supports data transfer rates of up to 1 GBit/s via LTE, more than what the nets usually give out, so this model offers the much better price/performance ratio.

 

Netgear Nighthawk M2 VS M1

To meet the requirements from 5G network, Netgear presented a new mobile WiFi hotspot Nighthawk M2 for the Australian network provider Telstra and carriers in Europe. Netgear Nighthawk M2 is an ultra-fast portable WiFi router with next-generation Gigabit 4G LTE connectivity with a download speed of up to 2 Gbps. The Netgear Nighthawk M2 5G router is upgraded from the predecessor Nighthawk M1, so you may ask what’s the difference between Netgear Nighthawk M2 and M1?

In the table below, you will see the details specs of Netgear Nighthawk M2 unlocked and Nighthawk M1 unlocked for your reference:

Model Netgear Nighthawk M2 Netgear Nighthawk M1
Product type 5G Mobile Hotspot 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot
Category LTE Cat.20 LTE Cat.16
Chipset Qualcomm Snapdragon X24 Qualcomm MDM9x50
Data rates DL 2Gbps/UL 150Mbps DL 1Gbps/UL 100Mbps
Supported 4G LTE frequency bands Telstra Nighthawk M2 MR2100-1TLAUS: Band 1/3/7/8/28
Nighthawk M2 MR2100-100EUS: Band 1/3/7/8/20/28/38/40/41
Hong Kong Nighthawk M2: LTE Band 1/3/8/20/29/30/38/40/41
Telstra Nighthawk M1: Band 1/3/7/8/28
AT&T Nighthawk M1:  Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/12/29/30/66
Hong Kong Nighthawk M1: LTE Band 1/3/8/20/29/30/38/40/41
WLAN 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band 2.4GHz & 5GHz 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band 2.4GHz & 5GHz
Max support users 20 users 20 users
MIMO 4 X 4 MIMO 4 X 4 MIMO
Connector for external antenna Two, TS-9 jacks Two, TS-9 jacks
Buy Antenna Netgear Nighthawk M2 Antenna Netgear Nighthawk M1 Antenna
App management Netgear Aircard APP Netgear Aircard APP
SIM type Micro SIM Micro SIM
Battery Removable, 5040 mAh Removable, 5040 mAh
Dimensions 105.5 x 105.5 x 20.35 mm 105.5 x 105.5 x 20.35 mm
Ethernet Port * One port for LAN port(RJ-45)
* One port of USB-A
* One port of USB-C
* One port for LAN port(RJ-45)
* One port for USB 2.0
Datasheet download Netgear Nighthawk M2 Datasheet Netgear Nighthawk M1 Datasheet
User Manual Netgear Nighthawk M2 Manual Netgear Nighthawk M1 Manual
Other features 3GPP, Rel. 14, 5 band CA, 256QAM DL / 64QAM UL, JumpBoost 3GPP, Rel. 12, 4 band CA, 256QAM DL / 64QAM UL,  JumpBoost
Firmware download Nighthawk M2 Firmware Nighthawk M1 Firmware
Drivers Nighthawk M2 Driver Nighthawk M1 Driver
Reviews Netgear Nighthawk M2 Review Netgear Nighthawk M1 Review
Price 999.00USD 459.00USD

 

Here you can check the general comparison of Nighthawk M2 and M1:

 

Nighthawk M2 Mobile Router (MR2100):

 

– LTE CAT 20, DL support up to 2Gbps speeds

– 3GPP, Rel. 14

– 5CA with 20 simultaneous Downlink layers

– 4×4 MIMO

– 256QAM DL / 64QAM UL CA 3C, 7C

– 11ac Dual band dual concurrent

 

 

 

Nighthawk M1 Mobile Router (MR1100):

 

– LTE CAT 16, DL support up to 1Gbps speeds

– 3GPP, Rel. 12

– 4CA with 10 simultaneous Downlink layers

– 4×4 MIMO

– 256QAM DL / 64QAM UL CA 3C, 7C

– 11ac Dual band dual concurrent

 

We can see that, based on the technology improvement, Netgear Nighthawk M2 is more advanced than M1, M2 can achieve download speed up to 2Gbps while M1 only half of it. And the Nighthawk M2 has larger touch screen to 2.4 inches. Other features are very similar.

 

 

Netgear Nighthawk M2 MR2100 Review

Netgear Nighthawk M2 MR2100 Mobile Hotspot is a latest LTE pocket WiFi router which not only can connect more devices than regular Wi-Fi router, but also has enough power to operate all day, and can be connected to a power outlet for a long time. The Netgear Nighthawk LTE mobile hotspot has a LAN, which can make it connect with an Ethernet cable to provide WiFi network coverage, and the USB port, which can let it charge other electronic devices.

Netgear M2 is the fastest 4G LTE mobile hotspot and equipped with Qualcomm Snapdragon X24 LTE Modem, it supports 5CA carrier aggregation technology, up to 2Gbps download / 150Mbps upload speed.

Up to 20 devices can be connected with the Netgear Nighthawk M2 MR2100 at the same time, and WiFi high-speed Internet access is available at any time, whether traveling for a large group of people, or for meetings and venues.

The body comes with a LAN socket, and you can change into a Wi-Fi transmitter when connecting with an Ethernet cable at hotel. Even if the hotel does not have free Wi-Fi, it can provide wireless Internet access only if you had a valid SIM card. It also supports VPN function to make it easier to travel.

 

Here now the Netgear Nighthawk M2 router is available in Australia and Europe and it has two variant models: MR2100-1TLAUS and MR2100-100EUS. They support different LTE frequency bands as below:

– MR2100-100EUS: LTE 700/800/900/1800/2100/2300/2500/2600 MHz

– MR2100-1TLAUS: LTE/4GX 700/900/1800/2100/2600 MHz

Netgear Nighthawk M2 Highlight Features:

  • Fastest LTE mobile WiFi hotspot
  • 5CA carrier aggregation technology, up to 2Gbps Download
  • High-speed AC WiFi 2.4/5GHz synchronous dual-band
  • High-speed Internet access for up to 20 devices
  • Easier to use LCD touch screen
  • Up to 16 hours of battery life
  • Removable battery connection indoor power supply fixed point operation
  • 1*Gigabit LAN/WAN socket
  • 1* USB-C / 1* USB-A socket
  • JumpBoost function can provide charging for mobile phones or other devices

 

Netgear Nighthawk M2 MR2100 Specifications:

  • LTE Modem: Qualcomm Snapdragon X24
  • LTE network speed

– support 5CA carrier aggregation

– 2Gbps down

– up to 150Mbps

  • Operation screen: 4 inch LCD touch screen
  • Connection socket

– 1*Gigabit LAN/WAN socket

– 1*USB-C / 1*USB-A socket

– 2*TS-9 external 3G/4G antenna socket

  • Battery: 5040mAh replaceable lithium battery
  • Body size: 105.5 (L) x 105.5 (W) x 20.35 (H) mm
  • Weight: 240g (with battery)

Telstra Presents Netgear Nighthawk M2 5G Mobile WiFi Router

As the successor to the Nighthawk M1, Netgear presented a new 5G mobile router Nighthawk M2 for the Australian network carrier Telstra at CES 2019. The new mobile hotspot supports 4G LTE Category 20 and could provide faster speeds for surfing. The appearance of the new 5G mobile hotspot is very similar to the first 5G mobile router Netgear Nighthawk M5, which is available for the AT&T 5G networks in the USA.

The Nighthawk M2 is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon X24 modem, and the theoretical data rates are 2Gbps for download and 316Mbps for upload. It’s possible to achieve 7 carrier aggregations for download and triple carrier aggregation for upload. The 4 × 4 MIMO antenna technology is supported on up to 5 carriers simultaneously. The 256QAM modulation is supported not only in the downlink but also in the uplink. Combining the mentioned technologies, the device reaches the mentioned 2 gigabits per second – but only if the mobile networks support these technologies as well.

Like the predecessor M1, Netgear M2 could also support maximum up to 20 wireless devices to access the internet. What’s more, the Nighthawk M2 has one RJ45 Ethernet port, one USB-C Port and one Type-A USB port. And two connectors for external antennas are available, but what’s the connector type is unknown yet. More details of the Netgear Nighthawk M2 is waiting for the official specs from Netgear or Telstra.

 

According to the Telstra news, the Nighthawk M2 is the world’s fastest 4G device on Australia’s fastest mobile network, and it’s said the M2 was already under test and it would be available in the market in early 2019. However, the price of Netgear Nighthawk M2 is not yet known, but we will keep updating the news.