AT&T is calling the Nighthawk the first "5G Evolution" capable hotspot, and it is indeed very technologically impressive - though don't let the name fool you, this device does NOT incorporate a 5G cellular modem.
The Nighthawk, however, is a major technological jump beyond AT&T's former flagship Unite Explore mobile hotspot in raw LTE capability, but on most of AT&T's existing network, you will only actually see an advantage in a limited number of cities where AT&T has deployed the "5G Evolution" technologies.
But if future-proofing is your goal - the Nighthawk is the new king in town.
And thanks to the integrated ethernet port, unlike most other hotspots it is easy to use the Nighthawk paired with any traditional router - not just specialized mobile routers that support USB tethering.
October 2018: AT&T has announced that the Netgear Nighthawk 5G is in a limited release. The LTE capabilities of the 5G device look similar to the MR1100 minus some key features like an Ethernet port - however, the 5G Nighthawk is $300 more expensive and is not yet available to the general public.
The Nighthawk 5G does not seem to be a worthwhile replacement for the Nighthawk MR1100 other than for those who really want to be on the bleeding edge.
- Model Number: Netgear Nighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot Router (MR1100)
- # of Connected Devices: 20 Wi-Fi / Supports USB Tethering & Ethernet
- Control Panel and Default Password:
Control Panel: http://192.168.1.1 or http://attwifimanager/
Default Password: "attadmin"
- USB Tethering Support:
WiFiRanger Tethering: Works Great
Pepwave Tethering: Works Great
- Supported Networks and Bands:
AT&T LTE Bands: 2, 4, 5, 12(17), 14 (see note #1), 29, 30, 46 (see note #2), 66
Global Roaming on LTE Bands: 1, 3, 7
4G/3G: HSPA+ 850/1900/2100MHz - Global roaming supported.
2G: GSM EDGE: No
- LTE-Advanced Carrier Aggregation: Yes (4x 20MHz channels)
- MIMO Support: 4X4 internal, 2x2 External
- LTE Performance Category: Category 16
(Max Theoretical Speed: 1,000Mbps Down / 150Mbps Up)
- Cellular Antenna Ports: 2x TS9 External Antenna Ports
- Other Ports: Ethernet, USB-A, USB-C, micro-SD (internal slot)
- Wi-Fi Technology / Frequencies: 802.11 b/g/n/a/ac - Simultaneous 2.4GHz and 5GHz
- Claimed Battery Life: ~24hrs
- Can Be Powered Without a Battery: Yes
- Battery Part #: W-10
- Battery Purchase: eBay
- Dimensions: 4.14" x 4.14" x 0.75" / 8.5 oz
- SIM Card Type: 3FF / Micro SIM
- Retail Price: $249.99 (discounted with 2-year contract)
Note #1: In early 2018 AT&T quietly released a slightly revised Nighthawk that adds support for LTE Band-14, the new FirstNet network for public safety use. This was a hardware update - and customers with the earliest Nighthawk's will not be able to use LTE B14. For more on FirstNet and B14, see our article here.
Note #2: In September 2018 AT&T pushed a firmware update enabling compatibility with LTE-LAA (aka LTE Band 46). This is a significant update, but it has a catch that we discuss in the member area below.
Review & Testing Status
We purchased a Netgear Nighthawk as soon as it was available at a local AT&T store in November 2017, and have been using it extensively since.
Our initial raw field testing results are available to our members:
- Cellular Signal & Embedded Router Field Testing – IBR900 | MAX-BR1 | Drive Sleek | MIMO Antennas (1st Quarter 2018)
- Cellular Equipment Field Testing Results – Netgear LTE Modem / USB730 / Nighthawk
Our review and conclusions below are based on this extended testing experience.
Here is our unboxing video and first impressions of the Netgear Nighthawk, filmed in November 2017:
Our more in depth hands-on take on the Nighthawk is available to our member's below.
Content Included Below:
- Favorite Features & Potential Downsides
- Hardware Features Explained:
- Hands on Testing Notes
- Software & UI Notes
- Performance Testing Results
- Conclusion: Last Stop Before 5G?
- Nighthawk Alternatives
- Video Overview & Tutorial
- Recommended Settings
QAM? LAA? Carrier Aggregation? MIMO? What does all this mean and how does it impact data performance?
Members, our exclusive guide to Selecting LTE Modems explains all these complicated technologies.
Potential Alternatives to Consider:
For other popular mobile hotspots on the market - here are our featured options:
This Review Contains Additional Member Exclusive Content
We are honored to be able to present the above overview for free without 3rd party advertising or sponsorships. We are not paid by the manufacturer of this product to provide this listing or review, and nor are we selling this equipment or plan (purchasing links are provided below as a courtesy and some may be affiliates).
Our members have funded this resource center and any extensive hands on time
we have spent with the product to review it.
The in-depth portions of this review are made available to them which might contain: hands on testing notes, field testing data, user interface tour, product analysis, comparison to alternatives, setup tips, video tutorial, insider tips, vendor discounts and fellow member experiences.
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NOTE: If future LTE B14 compatibility is important to you, make sure that you get a NightHawk that is labeled as "FirstNet Ready". These versions of the NightHawk began to appear on the market in March 2018, and older devices may still be found in most retailers inventory.
Battery Replacement Purchase:
The guides below have been hand-picked to help further your education about selecting mobile hotspots and best utilizing them in your mobile internet setup.