It turns out that the newer model is actually just a cost-reduced version of the Z-915, with the exact same specifications and internal electronics.
The key difference is that the older and more expensive Z-915 has an LCD screen for changing settings and checking status. But on the new Falcon model there is only a series of basic status lights - and all changes must be made via a web interface.
But this is not a high-end device, and it does NOT have advanced features or support for combining multiple bands via LTE-Advanced Carrier Aggregation. It also does not support T-Mobile's newest LTE frequency, Band 71.
UPDATE (October 2016): T-Mobile has seemingly replaced the Falcon Z-917 in its lineup with the newer Alcatel LINKZONE - which has nearly identical specifications and capabilities.
ZTE in the News:
ZTE is a Chinese company that produces a variety of electronics, including consumer cellular devices as well as network equipment which can potentially be used by cellular carriers and other internet service providers.
Beginning in 2018, the US government restricted the sale and support of ZTE products in the US due to security concerns and at one point, it seemed like ZTE could be forced out of business.
Currently, however, ZTE is still able to directly sell and support consumer devices in the US, but US telecommunications companies cannot use federal telecom subsidies for ZTE gear or services because the US government considers ZTE to be a security threat.
While unlikely at this point, ZTE could be subject to further US government actions that could affect the availability of and support for ZTE consumer devices.
Members, our further analysis and detailed updates are in the Special Announcements forum:
- # of Connected Devices: 10 Wi-Fi / Supports USB Tethering
WiFiRanger Tethering: Tested & Confirmed
Control Panel: http://mobile.hotspot/ or http://192.168.0.1/
Default Password: "admin"
- Networks supported:
LTE Bands: 2, 4, 12 (17)
4G: HSPA+ 850/1900/2100MHz
3G / 2G: Global Roaming NOT Supported
- LTE-Advanced Carrier Aggregation: No
- LTE Performance Category: Category 4
(Max Theoretical Speed: 150Mbps Down / 50Mbps Up)
- Cellular Antenna Ports: None
- Wi-Fi Technology / Frequencies: 802.11 b/g/n - 2.4GHz Only
- Dimensions: 4.13" x 2.36" x 0.63" / 4.23 oz
- Battery Life: 6hrs
- Can run without battery? Yes
- Battery Part #: Li3720T42P3h704572
- Battery Purchase: Generic
- SIM Card Type: 3FF / Micro SIM
- Retail Price: $79.95
Review & Testing Status
In addition, we have included this unit in our several other rounds of testing. Our field testing results can be found here, for our members who want to follow along:
- Cellular Signal & Embedded Router Field Testing – IBR900 | MAX-BR1 | Drive Sleek | MIMO Antennas (1st Quarter 2018)
- Cellular Equipment Field Testing Results – Netgear Modems / USB730 (Late 2017)
Potential Alternatives to Consider:
For other popular mobile hotspots on the market - here are our featured options:
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Mobile hotspot devices are small, self-contained units that receive a cellular data signal and transform it into an internet connection. They are a cellular modem and router combined. Most can create their own personal Wi-Fi network.
They are typically designed with a specific cellular carrier in mind and require a suitable cellular data plan of their own to operate. You might see them called Jetpacks (Verizon's term for them) or MiFi (Inseego's name for them).
Here's a quick video going over the features of a hotspot, and what makes one better than another:
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.